Big Innings From The Outfield: R.I.P. Tony Lewis

I don’t even know where to start. What I do know is that I have had to write too many pieces like this over the past few years. When a musician who has touched my life and helped create so many memories passes away I just can’t sit and be idle. I need to let the world know how much this person means to me, and hopefully other music fans can get something from that. I dunno, maybe it makes them smile, or bring them back to a different time. All I know is that this, writing this, well it is my therapy. It’s how I cope. So hopefully you’ll come on this journey with me. Earlier this week we lost Tony Lewis, singer and bassist for THE OUTFIELD, a band that has left an indelible mark on my soul since I was 12 years old.

So what is this exactly? Is it Classic Albums? Well…kinda. But also not really. We’re just jamming Big Innings: The Best of The Outfield tonight, like we’ve done every single night since we learned of Tony’s passing. Released in 1996 this is a perfect time capsule that showcases the band’s fantastic work. I can still remember where I was when I heard every single song. Man, rock and roll is a drug like no other. There is no feeling like the one you get from a song that can lift you up high over the mountains, or one that can reduce you to a crying mess in a matter of minutes. The power of music, my friends… that is what this band did and does for me.

Right from the start “Voices of Babylon” had me back in the day. Was it slicker and more polished than earlier stuff? Absolutely. But hot damn was it catchy, and I played the shit out of it. It’s crazy, because at random times that hook will pop into my head out of nowhere; it has for years. And now it’s residing there until further notice. “For You” is an absolute masterclass in just how amazing and powerful Tony’s voice was/is and that hook is fantastic. If we’re being honest, like I pride myself on being, this one has hit me really hard, dear readers. When I found out he died it hit me like a ton of bricks. Why do the best ones get taken from us too early??

“Josie’s on a vacation far away…” These words coupled with an iconic guitar riff make up the beginning of one of THE greatest rock songs ever written, and that is simply not up for debate. Mrs. Amps knows that if this track comes on the radio while we’re driving, then whatever she’s gonna say will be drowned out by my loud (and not very good) singing along to it. Holy fuck, the very first time I heard it I was like, “Who are these guys and how do I get more of them in my veins??” I was like a goddamn crackhead. But that just goes to show you just how powerful a great song can be. It can change someone’s attitude, altitude, and outlook on life. Because that’s what this one did for me, make no mistake.

“Say It Isn’t So” is a killer rock anthem, and Tony’s voice shines like a diamond. Some of you might remember “Winning It All” as a tune used during the NBA Finals in the 90’s, which is pretty cool, no? Okay…so let’s talk “Everytime You Cry.” This one is kind of rough for me. It really came on my radar in 1992 and since then has been a go-to when it comes to make ups and break-ups. Honestly, the song made its way onto quite a few mixtapes for girls I dated back in the day. Whoa, hear me out! If I put it on someone’s tape, I meant it at the time. Hey, I fell in love hard in the 90’s, and I usually showed that through a tape that I painstakingly made for a young lady. Still, this song can reduce me to tears now just like it did then, and fast.

Elsewhere you’ll find tunes like “Closer to Me”, which was a big hit on WDJC Radio, aka my room and car. I was like, “Hell yeah, they’re back!” in 1992, and I still love this one hard. “All the Love” is a song that I probably won’t be able to do justice but I’ll try. Tony’s vocal line is just so incredibly fantastic, and John Spinks’ guitar is magical. Drummer Alan Jackman plays the perfect beat, resulting in the band’s second best song behind “Your Love.” I always loved “Alone With You” but the acoustic version on this compilation is out of this world. You can hear it in Tony’s voice, the pure and raw emotion. Plus he’s knocking it out of the park when he sings!

“Since You’ve Been Gone” is one helluva tune with a hook that’s as infectious as a cold. I still have to punctuate that chorus in the air every time I hear it, I just can’t help it. Then the record ends with “One Hot Country,” which was on the soundtrack to some dogshit Richard Grieco movie back in the day. But yeah, I fucking love this song!! It is so goddamn peppy that I can’t help but bop till I drop when it comes on. And yeah, THE OUTFIELD comes on a lot in my home. I have loved this band for over 30 years and I will continue to do so. I hate that you left us far too early, Tony. But we have a beautiful catalog of music to remember you by. Thank you for a lifetime of memories. Sending your family all the love in the world…   ~dc 

In Loving Memory of Tony Lewis (21 December 1957 – 19 October 2020)

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