My Best Friend’s Girl by The Cars (Elektra, 1978)

cars

The Cars debut album released in 1978 is about as perfect a first impression that you could make as an artist. Produced by Roy Thomas Baker, every song on that album is a killer and it brought them instant fame and success, becoming a bridge from 70s arena rock to 80s New Wave. Not bad for a band that had only been together for two years.

Actually the musical partnership of Rik Ocasek and Benjamin Orr started more than a decade before when they met in Cleveland, OH in the mid 60s. It was only through perseverance, an eventual move to Boston and lots of luck that together they found the right group of guys to play Ric’s songs. Although Orr sang lead vocals on their first hit, Just What I Needed, Ric was the true front man of the group, a tall lanky guy in black leather and shades. His whole demeanor suggested that he didn’t give a shit, which made him infinitely cool. Without raising the temperature of his voice, he communicated his feelings deeper than any trained singer could, sliding his vocal tones around syllables unusually emphasized, sounding less nasally than Dylan, less dramatic than Bowie.  He could make the simplest phrases sound totally hip and the dumbest ideas sound tons of fun.

Case in point: You’ve got your nuclear boots and your drip dry glove. Ok, Ric help me out. Was your ex-girlfriend an extra in The China Syndrome? I’m not sure what that means but I’m not sure I’d break up with a girl with those items in their wardrobe.

Also, suede blue eyes. That sounds so much cooler than blue suede. Maybe she was an Elvis fan. Maybe she was hooked on a feeling.

This single peaked #35 during the last week of 1978 unable to surpass Foreigner or Styx, but able to open the door for bans like the Talking Heads who were debuting at #40 with Take Me To The River as well as open the door to countless synth pop rock bands in the 80s.

 

 

 

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