Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler...Former teacher... Scientist... Published author... Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published September 15th 2019
RIP to a fine talent
It was with some degree of shock that I read that Ric Ocasek, lead singer and guitarist of US band The Cars, passed away on September 15, 2019.
Ric Ocasek in 2009.
The Cars were a very good band, and so I thought I would take a moment to remember some of their better songs. The thing is, they were a great singles band – some of their songs were fantastic – but their albums generally left me a little cold. A deal of filler, shall we say. However, they knew their best work, and the best was generally released as a single, so all of these songs are probably very well-known to lovers of that classic rock/pop genre that so dominates my own writings here.
This, essentially, is just going to be some good Cars songs (and one solo track) to remind us of the talent we have lost. 10 songs, a nice list. Listen and enjoy.
'Just What I Needed' (1978)
In complete defiance of the prevailing punk ethos of the late 70s, and anticipating the electro-pop-rock to come in the 80s, this early song by The Cars is a fun bit of sing-along. The quiet verse, then shoutable chorus was great, and yet it still had time to fit in the guitar solo.
'My Best Friend's Girl' (1978)
Another bit of fun! This is a semi-popular trope in music ("She's my best friend's girl/ And she used to be mine…"), but they deliver a great take on it. Short anecdote: I dated a girl at the end of year eleven, the ex-girlfriend of a mate. Fine. But I went to his house one afternoon because we were going to be going out somewhere, and his mum let me in, and I heard this song coming from his bedroom, him singing along to it. I later told my girlfriend, she confronted him and, long story short, they ended up back together. So, The Cars helped their relationship…
'Let's Go' (1979)
This was the first The Cars' song I ever heard, on a compilation record (probably put out by K-Tel, you know the sort) and it suckered me in straight away. I didn't really get what it meant (I was 8 years old in 1979!), yet I do remember a few of us liked to sing, "I like the night-life, baby!" without any comprehension whatsoever. Some fun memories come with this track.
'Shake It Up' (1981)
Another song that is a lot of fun. I remember this song being on the radio a fair bit in 1981, so I clearly wasn't the only one who thought it was a great song. Again, I got this on one of those compilation albums (1981 The Something probably…) and it was one of the better tracks on that album, that was for sure.
'You Might Think' (1984)
I admit it – this song stuck in my head initially because of the really weird video clip. This was 1984, when the art of making strange video clips for MTV was at its peak, and The Cars did it so well. But then I heard the song on the radio and, you know, it was actually quite a good track as well, not just aural background for a visual feast. And, come on, who else hasn't thought: "You might think I'm crazy/ But all I want is you…"
In recent years this has become my favourite The Cars track. At the time, I liked it, don't get me wrong (1984 was a great year for the band), but there is something about it – the keyboards, the harmonies, the rather weird lyrics ("Summer turns me upside down…" Really?) – that has struck a chord as I've got older. So, yeah, at the moment, my favourite The Cars song.
I'll admit, when I first heard this track (in 1984), I was not that keen on it. But as the years went on, by 1987 I really got into it. One of the better ballads of the time, the sentiment of "Who's gonna drive you home tonight?" is something I probably didn't quite get until I was older. It's almost an update on 'Save The Last Dance For Me' by The Drifters. Doesn't matter; with the value of hindsight, it is a fine track.
'Hello Again' (1984)
I first heard this song at a Blue Light Disco, and so it is one of the few songs where I heard the 12" mix before I heard the actual single. I think it was the opening that got me from the word go, and then the stabbing keyboards. The thing about the 4 songs from 1984 by The Cars that I like is that they are not the same as one another. That is something quite rare – no resting on laurels here!
'Tonight She Comes' (1985)
Another piece of glorious pop-rock. The double entendre of the title was something I did not pick up on until it was pointed out to me by a mate a few years later when he heard me singing along to it on the radio. Oh well, who cares? I still enjoy the song, and still sing along to it when I hear it.
'Emotion In Motion' (1986)
And my favourite Ric Ocasek solo track, this is a fine piece of pop balladry. "I would do anything/ To hold onto to you…" spoke to 15 year old me, but because the person I was aiming my heart at didn't return the sentiment, I had a hard time listening to this song for a few years. It still brings up weird memories. Yeah, I know – I'm strange.
And so there you have it. Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek, and thank-you for the music.
But I have to disagree with you about them being just a singles band.
Suggest you have a close listen to the first two albums - they're crackers!
The Cars & Candy-O were all killer - very little filler.