Ric Ocasek died yesterday at the age of 75, and it made me very sad. The Cars are a quintessential American rock band from an era that is long gone- with short singable songs and good guitar with a nice mix of synth, and when I listen to them it always brings me back to a good place when I was a kid and listening to them on the jukebox at the college inn or listening to their albums while lying on the floor of the college radio station. They are probably best known for their 1984 album Heartbeat City which featured the song Drive, among others, but for me The Cars, Candy-O, Panorama, and Shake it Up are a pretty amazing four album stretch, and there is literally not a bad song on their debut self-titled album The Cars.
I’ve always considered myself a closet Cars fan, as I have all their albums and frequently have them on my iphone rotation. When I say “secret,” I don’t mean out of embarrassment, but because no one ever comes out and says “OH MAN I LOVE THE FUCKING CARS THEY ARE THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD” because everyone, including me, will look at you and say “No, they’re not.” But what they were was a GREAT band that really fit the time and the zeitgeist, and after listening to five albums from The Cars (1978) to 1984’s Heartbeat City, it is a timeless sound that will still be worth a listen in another 30-40 years. That’s something pretty impressive, and there is something to be said for music like the Cars, which is very accessible to the masses (Marshall Crenshaw comes to mind). You don’t have to be a pretentious music snob to like the Cars- you just have to have ears.
RIP, Ric. Thanks.