Rich Wilhelm

“The Night Juice Newton Waved to Me” and Other Juice Newton Stories

In 1980s, 1983, Cheap Red Wine, country music, family, Juice Newton, memoir, Music/Memory on July 30, 2016 at 11:41 am

I was reminded early this morning that I have several Juice Newton stories. Everybody knows that I once walked Debbie Harry to her car, but did you know that Juice Newton once waved to me?

Way back in 2009, I recorded the video shown above. It was the first official episode of my now-dormant “Cheap Red Wine” video series, and it was about the night Juice Newton waved to me. Not to my dad. To me.

Here is the basic story, though you are welcome to watch the video. It was a September night in 1983. Our family had gone to see country music superstars Alabama at Philadelphia’s Spectrum. Juice was one of the opening acts. At one point during the show, I screamed “JUICE!!!!” and she looked up in our general direction. She waved, presumably to me, though in subsequent years, Dad would humorously note that it was actually him to whom Juice Newton waved.

Later that evening I happily purchased a “Juice on the Loose!” t-shirt.

So, that’s one Juice Newton story. But there are several more.

Like the time I was in church more than 30 years ago and the priest brought Juice Newton into his sermon, citing Brenda Lee’s “Break It To Me Gently,” but noting that Juice Newton’s more recent version was pretty darn good and we ought to check it out. I think the point of the sermon was that Jesus never broke anything to anybody gently, but my  takeaway was that there was at least one priest in the world who listened to Juice Newton, and that had to be a good thing.

Then there was that time in college. I was sitting with friends in the dorm cafeteria when another friend, Ed Masley, bounded in, as only Ed can bound. He was wearing a Juice Newton t-shirt (the “Juice on the Loose” edition? I don’t think so.) and extolling the virtues of a Juice Newtown show he had just seen, I think at the now-long-gone Valley Forge Music Fair.

Years later, Juice played a show at a water park, right here in Phoenixville. I strongly considered going, but it was 2003, the summer Dad was sick and ultimately, my heart wasn’t into going to a concert, especially since Dad wouldn’t be able to go. But if you watch the video, you’ll see that I invited Juice to come back to Phoenixville anytime. I promised Juice that I’d personally attract big crowds to the Colonial Theater, should she want to perform there. That offer stands, as long as the Colonial is OK with it.

As for the “Cheap Red Wine” video, my late friend Tommy loved it, and told me so. He particularly liked how I demonstrated the way I yelled “JUICE!!!!” at the Spectrum that night so long ago.

A few months before Tommy died of cancer, I sent him some of my Really Cool Notebooks, which are made from old record album covers. One of the notebooks was made from a Juice Newton album cover, and he told me in a thank you note that when he opened it and saw a “JUICE!!!!” notebook, he smiled and actually laughed, for the first time in months. Imagining the moment Tommy — who I never met in real life — opened that package, found the Juice Newton notebook, and smiled and laughed is something that has always made me glad I got to know Tommy to the extent that I did. We touched each other’s lives, if only for a few years, and Juice Newton played a part in that.

So those are my Juice Newton stories. Do you have any?

 

 

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Patrick F. O'Donnell

writer, editor, general wordsmith and scribe

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