Wednesday, December 13, 2006

45s I used to own: Huey Lewis and the News

Probably the first copied cassettes I ever got were in Mrs. Herbert's advanced fourth grade class (Social Studies?), the one in the trailer at Wrights Mill Road Elementary. It was a pretty cool class (the highlight was making a working Native American village and operating it for a day--it always made the papers), and it offered a brief respite from the tyranny of Mrs. Phillips, an "old school" (as in pre-integration), teacher who made us pray in class (even in 1984 in Alabama this seemed problematic and poor Chhavi Vig, who was Hindu, I think, was always put in an awkward position) and separated the black students by a barricade of cubicles.

But, anyway, in Mrs. Herbert's class she let us listen to music occasionally, and Allen Ensminger, always up on stuff like this, brought in Don Henley and Huey Lewis cassettes that he made himself. The dubs were terrible, of course, but I don't even think my family had a proper cassette player beyond one of those one-speaker-record-things-for-your-grandparents kinds, so this was all pretty amazing to me. I had some friends with boomboxes that copied tapes, but he even made his own covers and stuff...a very "profesh" effort.

I can't really remember the Don Henley album, but I think it was Building the Perfect Beast, the one with "Boys of Summer" on it. All I really wanted to listen to was Huey Lewis and his magical News. After weeks of bugging people about playing it, someone just gave me the damned thing. I still have that tape somewhere.

But those crappy cassette player/recorders can only put out so much fidelity, so, of course, I had to gather up my allowance money and buy some 45s:

"If This Is It"

Why I gravitated towards the more ballad-y pop songs of Mr. Lewis is a mystery to me because I remember liking the super-poppy songs the most, particularly "Heart and Soul." But, yeah, I was into this video when I was allowed to watch MTV, and I don't think I had a problem with owning it on cassette and 45. The single was just such a perfect format for a rambunctious, ADDled young man such as myself: jitter around the room for four minutes, return the needle to the starting position, and jitter some more. What is up with this video, by the way? Huey Lewis was waaaay into the long-form storytelling it seems, predating the Sopranos by some 15 years.