Huey Lewis laughs and says, “Let’s face it — too much ambition at too ripe of an age is a very ugly thing.”
But that doesn’t mean he and his band, the News, are out of ideas — or a desire to act on them.
Last year the group, which has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide since 1980, released the Memphis R&B tribute album “Soulsville,” which Lewis notes “got the best (reviews) I’ve gotten, ever.” And now the troupe has “six or seven” new original songs in the works, although Lewis only classifies two as “really good” — and says that at this juncture the group has the time to make sure they all live up to that standard.
“Nobody is waiting on your next record anymore — I don’t even know how you get paid for music these days,” Lewis, 60, explains. “So you get to a really critical stage of your career, because you’ve done a lot of stuff. But you’re still writing songs and even if they are not very good, you gotta keep working on them and get them better. And then there’s other songs that pop right out, and they are fabulous.
“The difference now is you can wait until you have a big bunch of songs that’s fabulous, whereas before we had record companies wanting something now, now, now and you didn’t have time to make ’em all great.”
That means quality becomes its own reward, he says. While he’d certainly like to add to the News’ track record of a dozen Top 10 Hot 100 hits — including the chart-toppers “The Power of Love,” “Stuck With You” and “Jacob’s Ladder” — the music industry’s current, download-dominated circumstances let the group pursue things on its own terms these days.
“I think what happens is you have to do it because you’re a storyteller, and you need a new story every now and then,” says Lewis, whose acting résumé includes a recurring role on TV’s “Hot in Cleveland.” “You’ve got to have a new story to keep you interested. Forget the crowd; they want to hear ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll,’ which is fine, but you always need a new song, too.”
Huey Lewis & the News and Jill Jack perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 12, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $37.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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