Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Heart and Soul

Mrs. Nitmos came across tickets to a Huey Lewis and the News concert recently. Who’s that you ask? He was big in the 80’s. He’s in the "We Are The World" video making the rounds during all the Michael Jackson tributes. Really, he’s there. Take a look. He’s the dude with the feathered hair and natural chin dimple that looks like one of your hip L.A. uncles.
The stage is a hop, skip, and 800 meter jump from my wife’s office so we decided, what the hell, let’s go. So, Monday night, we went. I’ve mentioned Huey several times before in this space. The fact is – though I like him well enough – there’s about 50% tongue-in-cheek in those reverential comments. As much as M.J. defined pop music in general, nobody defines “80’s pop” to me more than Huey Lewis. “Heart and Soul”, “Heart of Rock n Roll”, “I Want A New Drug”, “Hip To Be Square”…you know the tunes. You’ve tapped your toes to the infectious melodies. Don’t lie. I’m not the only Newshead (Hueyhead?) out here.

Huey was also the first concert I ever attended circa 1986 (?) as a gawky, pimple faced 15 year old.* He was HUGE then. I bought a concert t-shirt that I wore periodically at first until it developed holes. By college, I wore that t-shirt almost every evening to bed, collapsing in a drunken heap of sweat, beer, and, occasionally, vomit. Mrs. Nitmos was there. She endlessly mocked my Huey t-shirt and its permanent yellow crusted armpits and ever increasing gaping hole across the abdomen. It was washed about three times in four years of college. I believe I “let it ride” my junior year. I still have it, in fact. It’s locked away in a trunk with my college paraphernalia. Who gets rid of a t-shirt once your (future) wife has spent so much time hating on it? Not me. You should know that about me by now.

I had an epiphany of sorts while standing at the port-a-potty line waiting for Huey to take the stage. Kenny Wayne Shepherd was finishing his opening act (doesn’t he realize that the only people who go by three names are serial killers and assassins?) and 32 ounces of overpriced keg beer needed to make its way out. The last several times I’ve waited in line at a porta-a-potty I was surrounded by physically fit marathoners talking about PR’s and training regimens. Here, I was boxed in by frayed jean shorts, bulging skirts, fish net stockings – all strained to their limits - and all varieties of smoke. And fat always finds a way out. Mullets? Check. Inappropriate t-shirt slogans? Check.** The strong, overpowering smell of b.o. and fried dough? Check. Safe to say this was not the same type of crowd milling about the Boston Marathon rent-a-johns.

Huey and the News have been touring for thirty years. Their glory years have come and gone. Are they getting any better as a band? Probably not. Are there more hits to come? Most likely not. So why are they still out here playing to increasingly smaller audiences? Certainly, part of the motivation is financial. But there has to be a love of the music - of performing before an audience- to energize a nearly 60 year old man to continue his favored activity after the hits and crowds have stopped coming.

And this is where the epiphany comes in through the acrid deep fried Twinkie stand odor, the gray haired 250 lb hippie with size medium t-shirt from 1992 dancing back and forth in front of me, and the slow, step by step waltz to the front of the urinal line: Will I still have the love to run - just for the fun of it - when my PR days are behind me? When I’m 50, 60, heck, 70 years old?

Though I feel like I have plenty of PR’s in my future, the fact is that I’m nearing the age where there is a certain diminishing returns to my training. The amount of effort it’ll take to continue to set a PR at a given distance needs to be balanced against longer recovery times, less flexible limbs, increased aches and pains, and, ultimately, a body that might not be able to crank out the “hits” anymore. And I’m a competitive, numbers oriented person. Others derive their fun simply by running. I’ve always derived my fun by running against my past self. The thrill of the PR chase. This isn’t a woe is me tale; I’ve got plenty of hits to come. But it is a reality in all of our futures. At some point, I’ll need to put on the moisture wicking apparel, body glide my tingly spots (trim my ear hair), lace up the shoes, and run purely for the enjoyment of the activity. The younger, hipper, squarer runners will pass me by. My Garmin 12005 will no longer report PR’s.

Huey played a pretty good concert. His voice sounded clear and strong. Guess what? The “Heart of Rock n Roll” on this night was in…Lansing, Michigan. Go figure.*** He played all of his old PR’s hits. Though he had less energy than I remembered - a byproduct of 30 years of touring and sold out arena versus local festival dynamics I’m guessing – there was clearly a relaxed joy emanating through the speakers and moving about the stage. He was doing what he loved.

When my PR days are gone, I hope I can find a way to continue to run with the same Heart and Soul.

Happy trails.

* I was primarily a forehead zitter which is ironic because this was the FORE! Tour.
** My favorite being the stick figure with a little tiny head over the caption “A little head never hurt anyone.”
*** In the song, the heart of rock is in Cleveland. Cleveland?! Ever hear of Motown? I’m guessing Motown has produced more hits and artists than Cleveland. Quick, name one recording artist from Cleveland.

30 comments:

Jamoosh said...

I am guessing the good "News" is that at least the 250 pound hippie was dancing. Normally in these setting I find it is less dancing and more a balancing act.

Viper said...

Let's see ... the James Gang, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Tracy Chapman, Trent Reznor, Polka king Frank Yankovic ... and that's not including nearby cities like Akron, which has quite a few as well. Besides, Motown isn't famous for Rock. It's famous for ... Motown R&B. Dummy.

Vanilla said...

You two are funny (Nitmos & Viper).
"Detroit's Better!"
"No, Cleveland's better!"

Hey, they both suck!

Betsy said...

1. Did you wear the t-shirt to the concert? Because that would have been awesome.
2. The rock & roll hall of fame is in Cleveland, so it would be safe to say that its heart beats there.

Marlene said...

On one hand, I have a hard time running 'just to run' - always have that next race (PR) in mind.

On the other hand, sometimes I long for a time when I am NOT constantly striving for a PR. No pressure running - wouldn't THAT be something else!

(Love the analogy, by the way)

BrianFlash said...

At the Willie Nelson, John Mellancamp, Bob Dylan show I recently attended (click for show review!) I saw many of the same types of items you mentioned.

While I didn't have the same epiphany, I can relate to the old vs. the young you. I was good way back when, but after taking 20 years off, my speed and stamina have evaporated. So, all PRs now are based on the 'modern' me, and not on the young fleet dude I was long ago.

Draw the line in the sand when it makes sense, and compete against your new self!

Jess said...

Even if you don't love it, you better run anyway so that you're not the person whose fat is finding its way out of the holes in your old concert t-shirt and grossing out the next person in the port-a-potty line.

Robin said...

As a Clevelander, I can name Joe Walsh and Trent Reznor as artists. Of course, we have Halley Berry and who can top that!

RazZDoodle said...

I'm amazed you could keep a t-shirt alive for that long. The most I could keep one around (due to quality issues) was about 5 years.

Roisin said...

Cleveland...Detroit...whatever, Chicago still wins.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

concert crowd not the same as marathon crowd? huh. go figure.

Lily on the Road said...

*I wore that t-shirt almost every evening to bed, collapsing in a drunken heap of sweat, beer, and, occasionally, vomit. Mrs. Nitmos was there...

I think this is where I lost consciousness reading your post...I can't believe Mrs. Nitmos would have be in bed with you....YOU WEREN'T married (were you?) LOL

*I was boxed in by frayed jean shorts, bulging skirts, fish net stockings – all strained to their limits - and all varieties of smoke. And fat always finds a way out.

Please tell me those were the women....

I think I'm going to faint again, where are the smelling salts...

LMAO...

Ace said...

Umm you lost me at deep fried twinkies...mmmmm....fried..chemical products...

When it comes to deep fried twinkies, I Know What I Like and Back in Time I Was Workin' for a Living and I Wanted a new drug. So I said to the concert vendor Give me the keys, and also give me a couple twinkies. I took a bite of that Little Bitty Pretty One and let me tell you that baby was Some Kind of Wonderful.

p.s. I no longer have my t-shirt... :(

aron said...

I believe there is a Huey song on my running playlist :)

Irene said...

"Because it's hip to be square."

If it wasn't for a stupid thing like a broken bone and surgery, I'd still be in contention for seriously shattering any prior PRs, and I just turned 50 last month. My brother (54) is still shattering PRs and he's been running since high school. The guy just doesn't know how to stop. (Adrenaline junkie)

I take this to mean you really read my blog post. LOL.

Have a good one!

Rural Runner E said...

I remember being a big fan of HL&N in school. Mom and Dad came home from a Cardinals baseball game saying some news group sang the National Anthem....they had no idea, I had to explain this to my "out-of-touch" parents.

This post makes me LMAO.

HEATHER said...

I can almost smell that t-shirt over here, eww. haha. Great post!

Kevin said...

I once read a good article in RW about aging and PR's, I think by John Bingham (penguin?) it was a really good article and he recommended at some point as we age, it may be a good idea to "reset" our PRs maybe every decade or so

Marci said...

Well once your ability to PR wears off you can always delve into the world of tris.. yes I got it, poor Mrs. Nitmos!

Al's CL Reviews said...

I thought you would definitely reference Back to the Future in this post.


So did you get a new T-shirt to irk Mrs. Nitmos?

Katie said...

In "Run Less, Run Faster" there is some magic formula that you can use to compare your younger and older running self. See if you are still the same or would even beat your younger self!

Question: Have you (or anybody you know) ran the Capitol City Half-Marathon. I'm trying to find a good first half and that one is vying for the spot.

Spike said...

I am a Newshead, how can you forget the way that band made me dance, but I was 8.

Marathon Maritza said...

I saw Huey Lewis and the News about 3 years ago at a winery concert and I LOVED it...they were so much fun and so full of energy, you just know they were playing for the love of music (yeah and maybe the paycheck, I'll give ya that.)

That's the power of loooooveee! Don't need money! Don't need fame! Don't need no credit card to ride this train!

Hope we both still have that spirit when we're 70 :)

Denise said...

Oh my gosh...I just found your blog. Too funny that it's about Huey. I used to LOVE him.

Jessica said...

Well, hopefully all the running made your legs rock the tight frayed jean shorts you probably wore.

theloosemoose said...

Really interesting, thought provoking post.
I saw another big name from the '80's - Cyndi Lauper - at the State Fair a couple of years back. She was still awesome, if a bit haggard.
I've only been running for a few years now, so even though I'm fast becoming decrepit, I still think I've got some PRs in me. It'll suck to slow down, but it'd suck worse to give up trying.

Phil said...

Is the News the same guys? Not that I remember their names, but they were originally (pre-Huey) known as The Clovers, and were Elvis Costello's backing band on 'My Aim Is True' and first tour. It's been downhill for those guys for over 30 years now.

Kristina said...

I was going to write something about how impressed I am that you've managed to work Huey Lewis into 2 blog posts about running. But then it occurred to me that I blog about Bruce on a weekly basis, so never mind.

word ver: "herness"--a royal title if ever I heard one; please call me that from now on

Adam said...

What does it say about my musical preferences that I "found" Huey when I was like 14.... in 1994. It was supposed to be my peak music loving years and I found a pop band that was well past their prime. Awesome.

I too have wondered about the PR question. Luckily I still have a few years to try to crank out a BQ, but I think that the realization that I can no longer get faster will be a tough one.

Serious Running:Chris Barber said...

Don't need money, Don't need fame, don't need no credit to ride this train...to PR-ville! It doesn't cost anything to get a PR, just will and a willingness to work hard. Huey is such a philosopher.