RANDOM RAMBLINGS OF THE MUSICAL MIND

A peak into the mind of John Hampton

Have you heard “The News”?

“It’s hard to go wrong borrowing from “The Memphis Songbook,” as I call it, when you’re crafting a record. One thing about Memphis’ music is how the listener can wrap him/herself up in the pain of the writer, or in the joy of being rescued from that pain. Whether it’s discovering a new love or letting go of an old one, the trials and triumphs of life are the intangible places where that lyric gets born. So who better to relate to these trials and triumphs than veteran songster Huey Lewis, Hughie Louis, or even Hugh Anthony Cregg III (all the same person), who has written a truckload of hits himself!

“When Jim Gaines, who has made records from Journey to Santana, Steve Miller to Tower of Power, Stevie Ray Vaughan to George Thorogood, … asked my involvement with his upcoming Huey Lewis record, I immediately started hearing “The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “I Want a New Drug,” “If This is It,” and even having visions of Marty McFly and Doc Brown in Back to the Future, a movie forever interlocked to Huey and vice versa in 1985, when “The Power of Love” became HLN’s first #1 single, and “Sports,” their third album, started it’s slow burn to the #1 Billboard spot. It eventually ruled there for a bit, and Huey and the News had made it to the top of the pile. Before it was over, and it still ain’t, the record had sold over 10 million copies in the US alone and spawned nine top 30 hits, 4 bound for the top ten, and some of those for the #1 spot.

“In their career, Huey Lewis and the News has sold 19 million records worldwide… and counting. Wow.

“So how do you follow an act like that? You kick back and do whatever you want, that’s how! And Huey wants to take a dip in the river of the Memphis Songbook. But you better watch it, because that magic book has been known to launch new careers! And re-invent to established careers. Just ask The Black Crows about “Hard to Handle;” Toots and the Maytalls about one of their big ones, “Take me to the River,” or any other on his Toots in Memphis record. Or ask ZZ Top if “I Thank You” helped them along. And how many danced to Amii Stewart’s version of “Knock on Wood” … the list goes on. These timeless pieces, just like the American Songbook, refuse to be “bagged.” They fight category. And the Memphis Songbook feels like it has always been and always will be.

Just exactly like Huey Lewis and the News. Oh! And I hear Huey is a mean harmonica player.