The Meaning Behind “Do You Believe in Love” by Huey Lewis and the News and the Unlikely Source of Their First Top 10 Hit

Huey Lewis and the News delivered time after time as one of the most consistent hitmaking groups of the ’80s. But they needed a jump start from an outside source/old friend to help set them on that path, which they received when they recorded the Top 10 smash “Do You Believe in Love” in 1982.

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What is the song about? Who wrote it? And how did it help the struggling band get on their feet on the way to bigger and better things? Let’s go back to find out the story behind “Do You Believe in Love,” as well as the song’s meaning.

Forgotten News

Huey Lewis and the News stood out somewhat among ’80s superstars in terms of their ages when they broke big. Lewis was already 31 when “Do You Believe in Love” gave the band their first hit in ’82, and most of the rest of the band had already reached 30 or were pushing it. Most other pop/rock bands had either established themselves by that time, or had already peaked and were on the downside of their career trajectories.

Lewis and company were a bit older because they had kicked around throughout the ’70s with various bands, most notably Clover. Clover was made up of San Francisco natives, but they relocated to England in the hopes that audiences there would take to them. That didn’t happen, although several Clover members did make an impact by backing up a budding singer/songwriter named Elvis Costello on his debut album.

After heading back to San Fran, a few members of Clover joined up with a some members of a competing band called Soundhole, and they were rebranded as Huey Lewis and the News. But the name change didn’t help their success rate, as their debut album made little impression on the national scene. They went into their second album in ’82 knowing that without a hit, they would likely be dropped from their record contract.

Mutt Lange Enters the Picture

As time would prove, Huey Lewis and the News scored hits with many songs written by members of the band, usually with Lewis spearheading the writing. But because they hadn’t yet proven themselves in that department, they were obliged to listen to the record company’s demands to record an outside song that had hit potential for their album Picture This. The writer of the chosen song was someone they knew quite well.

By 1982, Mutt Lange had already assumed the mantle of rock’s most in-demand producer, thanks to his work with AC/DC. Before that breakout, Lange had produced a pair of Clover albums in 1977. To tie everything together, he had also produced and performed in a band called Supercharge, for whom he wrote and sang lead on the song “We Both Believe in Love.”

That’s right: Albeit with a few tiny changes to the lyrics, the song that Huey Lewis and the News would use for their first big hit was written by their former producer. Of course, the News deserve credit for infusing the song with their R&B chops, especially courtesy of Johnny Colla’s impassioned saxophone part. It was also the first time most of the world heard Huey Lewis’ powerful, engaging vocals as well. Once they did, well, they may or may not have believed in love, but they certainly believed in Huey.

What is the Meaning of “Do You Believe in Love”?

“Do You Believe in Love” paints a picture of a new romance, one where the guy knows that he’s absolutely smitten and in it for the long haul. Yet he has to proceed with caution, because he doesn’t know if the girl feels the same way. Hence, the question posed in the refrain: Do you believe in love / Oh you’re making me believe it too.

The verses speak about how the narrator was once a lonely guy, only to have it change in an instant. Lewis’ innate charisma helps him sell lines like I want to love you all over without sounding like a creep. And there’s something touching about how this guy puts himself out there with everything he has: If you believe it, take my hand and I’ll take your heart.

The success of “Do You Believe in Love” gave Huey Lewis and the News the success story they needed to hold on to their record deal. And would they ever make the most of that when their next album Sports (1983) turned into one of the biggest of the decade.

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Photo by David Redfern/Redferns

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