1986 was definitely not a great year in my life. Aside from my default from being 17 and facing that semi-adult rite of passage that involves finishing high school (at my local school, where the likelihood of successfully completing high school in six years, from when you started six years earlier, was about 12.5% at best). my father, who was a smoker and a former coal miner (from his late teenage years), got sick at the start of the year and departed this life in mid July.
I would have to say that staying stable and sane and trying to successfully finish high school at first attempt gave me a few challenges, ones that I realised not too many years later had ripple effects on the person that I was that had taken several years to fully manifest themselves.
Staying sane, and trying to get through the stress of exams and the aftermath takes some doing. To this day, Suzanne Vega remains my favourite singer, even though I am not too thrilled with much that she has recorded in the past 20 years. At the time, I played a copy of her self-titled debut album over and over again as I studied for my Math exams and all the rest (is not everything Math if you are doing science?).
But that is not all, from that time, that I feel fondly about, in terms of remembering the barely sane not quite 18 year old I was, who was starting on his first steps into the jungle and inviting stupidity that is adulthood. For example, Paul Simon put out Graceland, an album which was a tad controversial at the time, but which had a great song (and filmclip with Chevy Chase) which resonates with me at the time that I was drawing a deep breath after the ordeal of those final exams.
And there is Huey Lewis and the News, at the height of their success.
Ok… Fore! is not exactly a classic album from any era, and it sure is nowhere near Graceland if we are just looking at music from that year. But it was a popular album, a hit if you will, of honest middleweight rock from the mid eighties.
I doubt that ‘Happy to be stuck with you’ is going to be a bridal dance at many weddings, but perhaps ‘Power of Love’ might be.
But Huey Lewis is a bookmark in time – he and his band represent a point in my life when I was starting to recover from the first major calamity in my life at the same time as I was summoning all that youthful hubris needed to embark on the scary entrance into adulthood. I survived that time. Looking back, I am rather surprised that I have actually thrived as much as I have since then. I have faced and slain several dragons since then, so to speak.
And now, over 33 years later, I discover that they are back, with a new album “Weather”, and a single ‘I’m there for you” with the same mellow tones and middle weight rock that I loved back then, when I was on the northern edge of seventeen.
Thank you Huey, thank you!