Huey Lewis on suffering hearing loss and having suicidal thoughts leading up to his latest album 'Weather'
The release would be the band's first album featuring original songs in 18 years, but we may never hear them perform it live
Huey Lewis and the News are set to drop their latest album, 'Weather', but unfortunately, we may never get to hear them perform their first original music in 18 years live. In fact, it may be the last album we get from them ever again.
In 2018, Lewis revealed that he was diagnosed with Meniere's disease and suffered from hearing loss as a result. This forced the band to cancel all upcoming tour dates — 40 shows in total.
This was particularly traumatizing for the singer who said, "The disturbing part is that even though I've never been a great singer I always was reliable. I'm a workhorse — always have been. It's a big disappointment, I must say. I feel like I let the boys down a bit."
He added, "But Bill (Gibson, the News' drummer) said it best — 'It's a good thing it didn't happen 20 years ago'."
Speaking about when the hearing loss first began affecting his ability to sing, Lewis said, "As I walked to the stage, it sounded like a jet engine going on...I knew something was wrong. I couldn't find pitch—distorted—nightmare. It's literally noise. It's a cacophony."
Martha Graham's famous quote, "A dancer dies twice — once when they stop dancing, and this first death is the more painful," comes to mind when Lewis speaks about the horrible mental space he found himself in when he realized he might never sing again.
"You know at first it was—suicidal, tormenting... I have loud tinnitus, I lose my hearing, I realize I can't sing, I'm miserable, I'm laying in bed all day, I'm contemplating my demise. Horrible stuff, just awful," he said.
"I can hear you, we can talk, I can talk on the phone... But I can't sing. I can't hear music. The bad news about Meniere's is they don't know what it is. It's a syndrome based on symptoms and it affects people differently. And all they can come up with as a treatment is a diet: No caffeine, lower salt and, you know, keep your fingers crossed."
For Lewis, hearing loss has been a lifelong struggle. As a child, he experienced ear infections frequently. His father, a doctor told him that his eustachian tubes (which start in the middle ear and end in the opening of the throat) were vulnerable. By the 80s Lewis had already lost most of the hearing in one of his ears.
Despite it all, Lewis is not deterred. On the contrary, he is as optimistic as ever, stating "I finally came to the conclusion that I just have to think positive, be creative, and hope my body will take care of things."
"But I'm not giving up. I think if I can stabilize, then maybe I can figure out how to sing again," he added. He credits his family and especially his children for continuing to be the inspiration behind his music.
Speaking about his music, he added, "I'm a major-key guy. Most of our songs are major key, they're happy songs. I've always been that way. The music that I love is happy music."
And he remains eternally positive about being able to sing again, stating "The good news is, it can get better...I'm just hoping I can get better."
Lewis' positive attitude combined with the prospect that this might be the last Huey Lewis and the News album, at least for a while, makes the upcoming album 'Weather' a bittersweet release — both for the band and for fans who eagerly awaited their return.