Huey Lewis and the News’ 1985 hit “The Power of Love” made the California rockers international pop stars due to its appearance in “Back to the Future,” but what exactly is the power of love?
Being Valentine’s Day, we asked Lewis what was behind the song.
“That’s a big question,” he says. “First and foremost: family. My kids inspired me to write that song.” At the time, he says, one was a toddler and the other was on the way. Now the “kids” are in their 30s.
Lewis, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and now lives on a ranch in Montana, will be in New York City Monday to talk about his band’s first new album in 10 years, “Weather,” out Friday. It’s most likely the last album. And he’ll talk because he can’t really sing.
He suffers from Ménière’s disease, an inner ear disorder. Lewis lost his hearing in his right ear about 35 years ago but he soldiered on — inspired by artists like Brian Wilson. However, onstage in Dallas in January 2018, he lost hearing in his other ear, so he can’t perform or listen to a band — it’s a “cacophony,” says Lewis, who wears Bluetooth hearing aids.
Lewis hasn’t written off singing again, but no matter what, he will stay creative. He’s heavily involved in a musical, “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” which had a sold-out run in San Diego in fall 2018 and is built around Huey Lewis and the News tunes. He’s working with Tony-winning producer Hunter Arnold (“Hadestown”) and, the singer says, “We will be bringing the show to Broadway next season.”
When his hearing first collapsed, Lewis says, “I was amazingly depressed and was in bed for two months, basically.” “I fasted and lost 18 pounds. It was just horrible. I thought my life was going to end.”
It helps that his hearing does fluctuate — he has good days and bad days.
“It turns out you can get used to anything,” he says. “I’m kind of indomitable. I don’t know why. I probably should be more miserable than I am.”
With touring off the table, Lewis misses his rock ’n’ roll family the most. “I don’t miss doing five shows a week, but I do miss the camaraderie of the 25 of us — a nine-piece band and the crew,” he says. “These guys have been with me forever, some 35-40 years. I do miss the fellas.” He tries to stay in touch: They had a reunion in Northern California last month.
On Monday, Lewis will discuss his music and more at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y with original MTV VJ and current SiriusXM host Mark Goodman.
“I’ve been doing a lot of talking because I can’t do much singing,” Lewis says. By speaking about his work, Lewis says, “I’m trying to give these songs a good send-off.”