Concert Vault

Huey Lewis

Sep 17, 1984

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  1. 1 Interview 25:45
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Liner Notes

After being accepted to attend Cornell University, Huey Lewis deferred for a year in order to travel to Europe, where he would play harmonica for money. He later dropped out of college and moved back to San Francisco, where he became the Clover harmonica player for an 8-year tenure. Clover eventually disbanded and, in 1979, Huey Lewis and the American Express (later the News) formed. Four years later, the group released their third album: Sports. By September of 1984, when this interview was recorded, the album had sold over 3,000,000 copies and had seen 4 singles break into the top ten.

This story of paying dues to receiving dues structures this interview. Lisa Robinson, for her part, can't seem to stop implying that the band sold out. Huey responds intelligently, citing the current state of the music industry, the shallowness of media, and the importance of a strong band. As a whole, Huey comes across as a man who knows what rock n' roll is all about and who is willing and able to use current trends to his advantage. The interview itself is an excellent commentary on how the business of music shapes the creation of music.

00:00 - The current state of rock n' roll: non-offensive, safer
01:49 - Dying to sell out / making hits on their own terms
02:31 - Hits building on previous hits
03:11 - Live music vs. making a record
04:10 - Market's emphasis on execution (vs. conception)
04:50 - Double-crossing: hits giving you power, Hank Williams Jr.
06:32 - Taking commercial success with a grain of salt
07:29 - Sports is better than Picture This, but not quantitatively
07:46 - Being competitive, getting better at singing
08:19 - Good singers, good voices
08:40 - Playing a role in a band
09:19 - Success causes creative challenges
09:54 - Keys to success
11:04 - Compared to The Grateful Dead
11:17 - The media is shallow
12:27 - Writing songs with The News / no ego struggle
13:29 - More of the credit, more of the blame
14:19 - A solid success / staying motivated
15:07 - Financial motivations for breaking through
16:08 - "If This Is It" / how to write a hit
16:38 - Making records vs. wailing live
17:46 - Huey's parents / growing up in the San Francisco beatnik scene
18:16 - Being too commercial for his mom
18:35 - Coming close to getting a real job
19:14 - Raison d'etre
20:09 - Being original in a worn-out art form
20:53 - Other challenges / getting movie scripts
21:22 - When music hits a nerve
21:58 - "I Want A New Drug" / San Francisco cosmic consciousness
23:09 - First hearing "Do You Believe In Love" on the radio
23:50 - Music making the world smaller
24:14 - American rock n' roll, "speak before you think."

More

After being accepted to attend Cornell University, Huey Lewis deferred for a year in order to travel to Europe, where he would play harmonica for money. He later dropped out of college and moved back to San Francisco, where he became the Clover harmonica player for an 8-year tenure. Clover eventually disbanded and, in 1979, Huey Lewis and the American Express (later the News) formed. Four years later, the group released their third album: Sports. By September of 1984, when this interview was recorded, the album had sold over 3,000,000 copies and had seen 4 singles break into the top ten.

This story of paying dues to receiving dues structures this interview. Lisa Robinson, for her part, can't seem to stop implying that the band sold out. Huey responds intelligently, citing the current state of the music industry, the shallowness of media, and the importance of a strong band. As a whole, Huey comes across as a man who knows what rock n' roll is all about and who is willing and able to use current trends to his advantage. The interview itself is an excellent commentary on how the business of music shapes the creation of music.

00:00 - The current state of rock n' roll: non-offensive, safer
01:49 - Dying to sell out / making hits on their own terms
02:31 - Hits building on previous hits
03:11 - Live music vs. making a record
04:10 - Market's emphasis on execution (vs. conception)
04:50 - Double-crossing: hits giving you power, Hank Williams Jr.
06:32 - Taking commercial success with a grain of salt
07:29 - Sports is better than Picture This, but not quantitatively
07:46 - Being competitive, getting better at singing
08:19 - Good singers, good voices
08:40 - Playing a role in a band
09:19 - Success causes creative challenges
09:54 - Keys to success
11:04 - Compared to The Grateful Dead
11:17 - The media is shallow
12:27 - Writing songs with The News / no ego struggle
13:29 - More of the credit, more of the blame
14:19 - A solid success / staying motivated
15:07 - Financial motivations for breaking through
16:08 - "If This Is It" / how to write a hit
16:38 - Making records vs. wailing live
17:46 - Huey's parents / growing up in the San Francisco beatnik scene
18:16 - Being too commercial for his mom
18:35 - Coming close to getting a real job
19:14 - Raison d'etre
20:09 - Being original in a worn-out art form
20:53 - Other challenges / getting movie scripts
21:22 - When music hits a nerve
21:58 - "I Want A New Drug" / San Francisco cosmic consciousness
23:09 - First hearing "Do You Believe In Love" on the radio
23:50 - Music making the world smaller
24:14 - American rock n' roll, "speak before you think."