A Very Special Concert

The enduring bond between Huey Lewis and the developmentally disabled

A bunch of people from a group home had set up camp on the opposite side of the stage, laying out blankets and picnic food. Bobbi recognized some of her friends and waved. "Huuuuueyyyy!" they all yelled back. It was just like people who yell "Bruuuce!" at a Springsteen concert, only more retarded. In fact, Huey Lewis is a retarded version of Bruce Springsteen. Think about it. All of his songs are three-chord chug-a-lugs about working-class schlubs trying to make it through this crazy thing we call life. "Workin' for a Livin'," "Walking on a Thin Line," and "I Want a New Drug" are all slightly less soulful embodiments of the Springsteen ethos. (Communists will note that Huey himself is actually not middle class, but grew up privileged in Marin. He attended private schools and even went to college at Cornell.)

After waiting for a few hours, we finally heard what I knew was coming, the thump-thump, thump-thumpthat signals the intro to "Heart of Rock & Roll." (It's still beating, you see.) "Heart" was the perfect first song for a band celebrating its silver anniversary. Immediately everyone rushed in front of us and packed the front of the stage. Bobbi couldn't see anything, so I had to tell her that Huey looked great. Jesus, he did. He looked and sounded exactly the same. A group of developmentally disabled guys to our right were pumping their fists in the air and clapping out of time. Prim and proper Marin gentry in their folding chairs were tapping their feet. And, inexplicably, teenage girls with bare midriffs and too much makeup were elbowing their way up front. Once again, no one seemed to pay attention to the short woman with Down syndrome who was trying desperately to see, but then again, the crowd mentality at concerts always turns all Darwin anyway, with the fittest pushing forward to the front while the weaker stay behind.

The island that the News were performing on had long since been sealed off and was packed to the gills with revelers. The band burned through all of its hits, like "Heart and Soul," "Do You Believe in Love," and an a cappella version of "It's Alright." Let's face it, whatever it is that makes a song "catchy," Huey Lewis & the News have it. Even I have to admit a certain affinity for the driving keyboards on "Workin' for a Livin'."

"I tell you, that guy can really play the harmonica," said Sean the next day. We never caught up with any of our friends; there were just too many people. I trusted that they were having just as good a time as the people who surrounded us.

Bobbi was ecstatic at the show, especially when I found a place for her to stand on a chair behind the stage where she could see everything up close. This angered a middle-aged woman with frosted lip gloss. "If you put her up there, no one will be able to see around her," she sneered, referring to Bobbi's ample roundness, doing so as if Bobbi weren't even there to hear it.

"I'll be sure and take that into consideration," I shot back at her with a look that would have melted the polar ice caps.

I helped Bobbi up onto the chair and put my arm around her. We sang along to "Doing It All for My Baby." The bitch-cake lady with the lip gloss had stomped off. Before long, a woman with an American Idol baseball hat and a speech impediment joined in on the song we were singing, followed closely by her male friend with something like Asperger syndrome.

Then it happened. Huey noticed us. He acknowledged our presence by strolling toward us and singing into Bobbi's camera lens.

"Huey!" she cried. "It's me!" He seemed to smile in recognition, then did a backward shuffle step to the center of the stage again.

That's when it hit me. My clients all have one thing in common: They want people to "see" them. Huey Lewis sees them. Huey Lewis has gone out of his way to spend time with them. Huey would have given Bobbi a chair if she needed one at a show, or he would have put her on his shoulders so she could see. I just knew it.

Before long Bobbi's knees were really starting to ache from all the standing, so we left during the encore. She never did get her DVD signed, but she didn't seem to care. There would be other opportunities.

"Oh, Huey," sighed Bobbi on the way home, "my Huey."

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