I Want A New Drug

Album: Sports (1983)
Charted: 6

Songfacts®:

  • The "drug" that Lewis sings about in this song is women. They don't have the side effects most drugs do: dry mouth, red eyes, make your face break out, etc.

    Huey Lewis offered this explanation in a Rolling Stone interview: "The whole meaning of 'I Want a New Drug' is that drugs aren't a part of life. They're just superficial. They're nothing about life. Life is love. Love is the answer, man."
  • Lewis wrote this song with his guitarist, Chris Hayes. They were the primary songwriters in the band along with multi-instrumentalist Johnny Colla.
  • This was one of five hit songs from the Sports album, an '80s landmark that sold 7 million copies in America. It was one of just five #1 albums in 1984, claiming a week in a year dominated by Thriller, Born in the U.S.A., Purple Rain and the Footloose soundtrack.

    None of the five hits were huge, but they were each released about three months apart, starting with "The Heart of Rock & Roll" in late 1983 and ending with "Walking on a Thin Line" late in 1984, keeping Huey Lewis & the News on the charts and on the air for well over a year with a single album. "I Want a New Drug" was the second single, peaking at #6 in March 1984.

    When the Sports singles ran out, the band released the biggest hit of their career: "The Power of Love," a #1 smash in 1985 from the movie Back To The Future.
  • Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for stealing the melody from this song on his hit "Ghostbusters." They settled out of court, but Parker sued Lewis in 2001 after Lewis revealed in a VH1 Behind The Music special that Parker paid him as part of the agreement.
  • In the video, Lewis wakes up bleary-eyed from a hangover, gets dressed, and drives his sports car to an awaiting yacht. He then takes a helicopter to a concert where he's performing. The joke is that Lewis was never into the hedonism available to a rock star such as himself. Where he finds happiness is on stage, performing his music.

    MTV was three years old at the time and had become a crucial marketing vehicle. Huey Lewis & the News understood its influence and made videos for all their singles, becoming one of the most popular acts on the network. The iconic shot from "I Want A New Drug" is the one where Lewis sticks his head in a sink full of ice water and we see him from below with his eyes open, singing the song while submerged. Who needs special effects!
  • Huey Lewis explained in the book Playing Back The '80s: A Decade Of Unstoppable Hits that "I Want A New Drug" came to him, understandably, in the midst of a hangover. "I had a long night, shall we say. I woke up and I had an early appointment with Bob Gordon, my then-publishing attorney, at like nine in the morning. I got up and I remember I had a headache. I drove to his place and I had the idea on the way. I walked in and I said, 'Bob, do you have a pen and pencil?' I wrote down most of the song."

    Lewis also explained in that book about the struggles that the band had finding the right feel for the song. "I shared it with some of the guys. We made a couple false starts with the song, to be honest with you. People thought it was gonna be OK, but I didn't. I remember really believing in the lyric, and thinking this song wasn't good enough. So I finally got up the nerve to tell the guys that I didn't think that we were going in the right direction. Finally, I remember I was at home and Chris Hayes (the News' lead guitarist at the time) called me up on the phone and he said, 'I got it. 'I Want A New Drug,' I got it. I got a great riff.' I said, 'Come on over.' So he came over and we had a little cassette player, he played it and I sang it and that was it."
  • Weird Al Yankovic did a parody of this song titled "I Want A New Duck." When Al appeared in a parody of American Psycho, he is killed by Huey Lewis, who exclaims: "try parodying one of my songs now, you stupid bastard." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Matthew - Milford, MA
  • The movie Back To The Future went into production with "I Want A New Drug" as a temporary track until a more suitable song was written, which turned out to be "The Power of Love."
  • An animated variation of the video appears in the 2005 episode of The Simpsons, "Midnight Rx" when Marge and Lisa visit a shady prescription drug manufacturer and watch a video with this voiceover:

    The mighty Amazon river. The natives had a word for it. Then we got rid of the natives and no one remembers that word. But here are some words everyone remembers by Huey Lewis & the News.

    At this point, the "I Want A New Drug" video comes on, offering a pleasant distraction from the realities of the prescription drug market.
  • According to Lewis, his record company was wary of the track's title. "They were afraid of it, the record company, because it had the word 'drug' in it," he told Jim Beviglia. "I remember we played Roseland Ballroom in New York City and the label came out and everybody went crazy to that song. Because of that, I convinced them to make it the second single. But they insisted on the record, on the little 45, and I still have one, that it's called 'I Want A New Drug (Called Love).'"
  • Lewis has a special affinity for "I Want A New Drug" because of how it showcases the News. "It was a band song," he said. "It's all about the band. There's no way a bunch of LA songwriters write a song like that for somebody. Whoever sings that song, wrote it. That's what was so good about it for us. It didn't fit a hit single formula."

Comments: 17

  • Seventhmist from 7th Heaven"I want a new ghost. One that won’t scare my wife. One that won’t haunt my house all night or make me fear for my life…"
  • Lauren from ChicagoAllison Colla, you probably won't see this but I just met your dad backstage when I went to see HLN play this past weekend in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and he was just so kind and wonderful. I let him know that listening to his music growing up was what made me decide to learn the sax, and he was so gracious. And fun! Please tell him I think the world of him and really enjoyed meeting him. And tell him I'm sorry my friend Jamie kept asking him weird questions and hugging on him! Lol! Take care, Lauren from Chicago :)
  • Frank Schnyder from Los AngelesHuey Lewis and the News performed this song on SNL, being the only musical guest ever to introduce all the band members during the performance. The song was used for that purpose in their live set at the time.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 8th 1984, "I Want a New Drug" by Huey Lewis & the News entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #68; and ten weeks later on March 18th, 1984 it peaked at #6 for two weeks...
    And on April 8th, 1984 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart...
    Between 1982 and 1994 the group had twenty-one Top 100 records; twelve made the Top 10* with three reaching #1; "The Power of Love" in 1985, "Stuck with You" in 1986, and "Jacob's Latter" in 1987...
    * They just missed having a thirteenth Top 10 record when "Couple Days Off" peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} in 1991.
  • Marc from -, MdInterview with/photos of the girl in this video (and also in "Heart and Soul," with a lot more screen time): http://noblemania.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-girl-in-video-heart-and-soul-1983.html
  • John from San Francisco, CaDoes anyone know who the actress that rides the bike, then she is seen on a boat and the last time front row of a concert and Huey sings to her. Thanks for the assist
  • Amara from Victorille, CaNever really been into Huey Lewis and the News, but this song does have an awesome beat to it.
  • Adam from Boulder Creek, CaI heard this on KFOX today(I don't know if this has ALREADY been posted) but at the end the song has a Riff as a Standoff to Jimmy Hendrix...It has the riff of Purple Haze at the end..so Hmm..did Huey STEAL ANOTHER SONG?
  • Dean from Louisville, KyThis songs chords structure is A-G/D-C/Resolve on E. It is Mony Mony by Tommy James. Also Gimme Gimme Good Loving by Crazy Elephant. I think that it's very familiar sound caused it to be such a big hit. Hum "Mony Mony" to it and you'll hear/see what I mean. Maybe Tommy James should have sued both Huey and Ray? :)
  • Robert from Houston, TxAs a sax player I love this song for its total but especially the sax part. I guess that's probably a big part of why I like Huey so much. The horns.
    Allison, I love your dad's work with Huey. I found this site while looking for some sheet music for the sax part in this song. I'm waaay to much of an amatuer to figure it out on my own.
    Can you point me somewhere?

  • Sugar Boy from Dallas, TxI think this song is about a natural intoxication between 2 people that drugs or alchohol cannot even touch! A chemical reaction in the brain that feels so unbelievably good brought on by wave upon wave of emotional intimacy and connection. Warning: This kind of high is very addictive and may lead to actually becoming addicted to that person and the constant need to be alone with them. In some rare cases this intoxicating high shared between 2 people can last for a lifetime and not lose one ounce of its addictive powers. Maybe some people are just lucky like that...
  • Michelle from Anaheim, CaIn Saturday Night Live:The Best of Will Ferrel, Will and an other woman sang this song at an assembly for drug awareness at a school, along with others.
  • Ace from Greensboro, NcI believe the song that plays on Marty's alarm clock in the movie "Back To The Future" is not "I Want A New Drug" but is another Huey Lewis song called "Back In Time" which was also recorded specifically for the movie.
  • Rodney from Mountain Home, ArHuey,
    You had every right to sue for the stealing of your song. All musicians borrow from other musicians, but this was way too obvious.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyThis is just another variation of the "love is a drug" theme used over and over again. A good example is Diana Ross' "Sweetest Hangover" and Robert Palmer's "Addicted To Love".

  • Allison from Kentfield, CaMy dad is Johnny Colla, the sax player/vocalist and huey's right hand man. The song, I Want A New Drug, is referring to the feeling he has when he's with his lover. That feeling of excitement and lust and love- which has no side effects!

    -Allison Colla
  • Elihu from Toronto, CanadaWeird Al parodied this song as "I Want A New Duck".
see more comments

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