Don't Need No Credit Card To Ride This Train
The news that I would be attending the Huey Lewis and the News/Chicago concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey, was greeted with responses that included the following:
* "I can't figure you out."
* "Did you lose a bet?
I am used to this, and there was a time when I might have felt some shame at my concert selection. But no more.
(Well, OK, I'm a little ashamed at seeing Chicago. But at least they didn't sing "You're My Inspiration." Or at least I think they didn't. There were a few times when I heard that grating Lite-FM keyboard intro and I zoned out. In fact, I honestly thought that they did play "You're My Inspiration" until a post-concert conversation with my friend where he assured me they didn't. Whatever. They did play "25 or 6 to 4," though, which is good because it's the one Chicago song I unabashedly enjoy. Unfortunately--but wisely--it was the last song in their set. But I digress...)
I come here today to declare that, yes, I truly enjoy a great deal of the music created by Huey Lewis and the News. And I have seen Huey and the boys in concert three times, enjoying each show. I own a Huey Lewis and the News t-shirt that I wear in a very unironic way. I believe that "Four Chords and Several Years Ago" is an exceptional album, one that I listened to on my Walkman throughout my freshman year of college (need I say that freshman year didn't go well?). "Sports" is also a classic. I have a signed copy of it. And of "Picture This." And the 45 sleeve for "Jacob's Ladder."
And I am not ashamed.
Now, do I enjoy Huey Lewis and the News as much as I enjoy, say, Marah or the Avett Brothers? Clearly, no. My devotion to Huey and the boys is, admittedly, based largely on nostalgia and summers spent hearing the hits of "Sports" on the radio and listening to "Hard at Play" on walks down to Ralph's Ices. But there are plenty of bands of the 1980s that evoke a nostalgic fondness that I wouldn't pay money to see. I was a really big fan of the Glass Tiger song "I Will Be There," but I have very little desire to see whatever remains of that band. The same goes for Billy Ocean, though I reckon I could be persuaded to spend a little money on seeing him if I were guaranteed that he would sing "Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car" and "When the Going Get Tough, The Tough Get Going."
Huey Lewis and the News, though, they're the real deal. And if that ruins my credibility as a music fan, so be it. I just think it's foolish to dismiss a band I liked when I was a kid simply because time has passed and it is no longer cool to be a Huey Lewis and the News fan (was it ever cool? Maybe not). Your musical tastes are, of course, always subject to change, but they're always based on the foundation of all the music you hear in your life, starting with what you hear when you're young. And I happen to think that Huey Lewis and the News--the first band I probably ever considered "my favorite band"--is a pretty strong foundation. Their music isn't particularly profound, but it's not meant to be (or at least I hope it isn't). It's just straightforward, easy-to-hum pop music. Nothing particularly wrong with that. And it's got a lot of harmonica in it, which is always a good thing.
I will admit that the last HLN (dig that hip acronym) album was kind of a poopfest. And I sincerely doubt that the boys will produce another album that will interest me. But that's OK. If I ever achieve relevance, I'll be stunned if I'm able to maintain it for 25 years. Huey and the boys have earned some time to coast on the hits. I still like hearing "Power of Love," "Heart and Soul," and, yeah, "Hip To Be Square" (alas, not played in Holmdel). And I likely always will.
So long live Huey Lewis and the News! A pox on the haters! And on Chicago (the band, not the city)!