Despite having loads of commercial success, Huey Lewis hasn’t exactly been popular among critics. They might begrudgingly admit that “The Power Of Love” or “The Heart Of Rock ‘N Roll” are highly catchy, but you rarely see him praised as a particularly strong songwriter. But Lewis should get more credit than he deserves.
Throughout his ’80s heyday, Lewis presented himself as a quintessential everyman. Much like Bruce Springsteen, he wrote songs about working-class life, demonstrated on hits like “Workin’ For A Livin'” and “If This Is it.” Unlike Springsteen, however, there was never a political angle to these songs. Huey Lewis was never trying to write about the destruction of the American Dream; he was just writing about ordinary life that people might relate to. When considering why he never got much critical respect, he might have been too much of a regular guy. To the untrained eye, it might seem like Lewis’ songs are mere fluff, but in many cases, there’s a lot more to them than one might notice at first glance.
Consider the 1986 single “Stuck With You,” his second song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard charts (the first being “The Power Of Love,” from the Back To The Future soundtrack). The song tells the tale of a presumably married couple who have “thought about breaking up,” but have essentially resigned themselves to life with each other. In the chorus, the narrator claims that he’s “happy to be stuck with” his current partner, but one might wonder how true that is. On the surface, it just seems like a song about a couple that overcame the odds and stayed together, but lingering underneath that are two people who have become stuck in a rut and, rather than trying to free themselves, have simply decided that staying together is the safest option. After all, as the first bridge points out, they have “all the same friends/and the same address.” Why screw that up? What might seem like a typical Adult Contemporary love song is actually a surprisingly thoughtful commentary on both the safety and the boredom that monogamous relationships provide.
Of course, the same album that featured “Stuck With You,” (1986’s Fore) also included “Hip To Be Square,” which might be the band’s most infamous song, if only because of this scene from American Psycho: