A Huey Lewis Nerd

I’ve made the transition from geek to nerd. Or, as my wife likes to say, “loser”. Why? Well, you see, on Saturday my concert tickets arrived for Huey Lewis and the News. They’re going to be playing at MusikFest in Bethlehem, Pa. on August 15, 2004.

I’ve been a Huey fan for decades, going back to around 6th grade (around 1984 or so). My favorite album is easily Sports, which included “Heart of Rock’n’Roll”, “Heart & Soul”, and “I Want a New Drug”, followed by Fore (with its excellent track “I Know What I Like”, which appealed to the fledgling libertarian in me). At the time, I though Huey was the height of coolness, a fact that was confirmed for me when they did songs “Power of Love” and “Back in Time” for the Back to the Future soundtrack. Hell, Huey even appeared in the movie!

Imagine my surprise in high school when I learned that well … Huey was not, in fact, cool. Imagine further still, me sitting in an art studio surrounded by proto-Goths and suffering artists busy listening to The Cure, Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd while I happily sketched along to Huey.

Denial. It ain’t just a river in Egypt folks.

Years later, my tastes have changed. After high school, my tastes drifted more towards metal, though recently I’ve been listening to a lot more Rush than anything else. But there’s still a part of me that enjoys Huey Lewis, and every few weeks I’ll have a Huey Fest at work, and listen to nothing but his tracks.

Why am I still listening to music that’s earned me nothing but ridicule for twenty years? Well, because I still like it. Huey’s music is — buy and large — optimistic and upbeat, with a touch of naive romanticism. It’s the music of my youth, and for the most part, it still resonates with me own values.

When Huey sings “I like believing in what I want to / Don’t like no one to tell me what to do” in “I Know What I Like”. I can’t help but smile. Same goes for “Jacob’s Ladder” and the lines “Coming over the airwaves, the man says I’m over due / Sing along, send some money, join the chosen few / Well mister I’m not in a hurry and I don’t want to be like you. / All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today”. Those lyrics resonated with me long before I read Atlas Shrugged, and they still do today.

Now I’m not going to say that Huey’s a libertarian front man and he’s far from an Objectivist (“Tell Me A Little Lie” would send most Objectivists into a frothing fit about self-denial) But his music’s always kept me smiling, and I’m not embarrassed to say that I’ve occasionally belted out “Hip to Be Square” while flying down I-78 on my way home from work (though admittedly, not while stopped at traffic lights). And when Jordan’s fussed at 3 a.m., it’s Huey’s songs that I’ve song to her, because even now, they’re the lyrics that I know best.

Despite this life-long devotion to Huey’s music though, I’ve never seen him and the News in concert. When I saw he was coming to MusikFest, I had to go. Yeah, it’s nerdy, and yeah, I’ll probably be surrounded by hundreds of other nerds happily singing two-decade old pop songs … but I don’t care. Like the man said … I know what I like — and I like Huey.

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