Song 145: Huey Lewis and the News, “The Power of Love” (1985)


As anyone who knows me can tell you, when I was a kid, I was obsessed with Back to the Future. I watched it a million times, especially when I was sick or especially bored. I loved it the way some kids were super into Star Wars, which I always found a little cold and overly complicated. Like Star Wars, Back to the Future has action, adventure and sci-fi, but it’s also very funny, and very silly, and very clever. (Sorry, George Lucas, you’ve never been any of those things, except for the genuinely funny American Graffiti. And I’ll give you  “Laugh it up, Fuzzball.”)

I also loved the soundtrack to Back to the Future, which, like many ’80s soundtracks, contained songs that had nothing to do with, and were barely in, the movie. There were songs from Eric Clapton and Lindsey Buckingham that were only played on radios in a given scene. However, the soundtrack also features what we can consider the movie’s theme song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News.

Why this song plays such a pivotal role in Back to the Future is beyond me. It’s a good song, and the team behind the movie wanted a popular rock star for obvious reasons (and Lewis and his band were still riding high off their record Sports), but “The Power of Love”? Unless the original title was “The Power of Love (Is Strong When You’re Trying To Seduce Your Future Son)”, I don’t get it. Nevertheless, it’s a really fun song, and everything about it is a little ridiculous. That synth, that vocal style, the line “don’t need no credit card to ride this train” (what does that mean?!), the fact that it provides a song to which Marty McFly skateboarded behind a jeep (driven by a guy wearing a Mountain Dew hat!). Oh, the ’80s. You were kind of terrible, and we didn’t notice until it was too late.

All of the above makes it sound like I don’t like “The Power of Love,” but I kid because I love. The synth is really glorious, and the bridge provides a sweet respite from the surrounding bombast. My friend Claire, well aware of my McFly obsession, asked me to play this at her wedding, as a surprise for her groom Tom. After my performance, someone asked if I wrote it. I wanted desperately to say yes.


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