Thursday Thoughts: Since You’re Gone, Mr. O

Thursday Thoughts: Since You’re Gone, Mr. O

The week started with another sad musical note and the latest installment of heartbreaking Celebrity Death News. I always enjoyed The Cars music, still do, but I’ve been surprised at how often this week I have been reminded and reflected on news of the the group frontman Ric Ocasek’s death. I knew I was a fan of the group but I didn’t realize just how much of a lasting impression their music had on me in terms of my memories growing up as a child of the 70s and teen of the 80s.

 

If memory serves correctly, I was first introduced to the music of The Cars on the late night show FRIDAYS, a subpar take-off of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE that did not have anywhere near the longevity or talent of SNL but did springboard a few big names from the show – heard of Larry David? Or Michael Richards? While FRIDAYS wasn’t as entertaining as SNL, it did offer up a window to some musical acts I otherwise would not have met then. I didn’t see bands like The Cars showing up on AMERICAN BANDSTAND or those rare TV variety specials.

 

But thank you, MTV, because you did give me ample opportunity to get my fill of Mr. Ocasek and the guys, especially when their album “Heartbeat City” emerged. Being a teen and tween of the biggest age of music video, the 1980s when MTV launched and stole the hearts and attention span of every boy and girl within arm’s length of a television. It left me with such a soft spot for certain bands who knew so well how to best use the medium to support their music, groups like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Def Leppard and other bands that did NOT start with the letter D…like The Cars. To this day, much like hit records and video classics A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” I cannot hear “You Might Think” without re-imagining its Beauty & the Beast / King Kong homage. I love The Cars of the 80s but certainly their late 70s tracks off their early releases left quite an impression, too, including one song “Moving in Stereo” that every prepubescent boy will recall from its use in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH during a memorable swimming pool fantasy of Judge Reinhold featuring a Phoebe Cates exit from a pool that s has left young boys squirming in their seats.

 

I think what I love most about music from The Cars is that it was exactly what played before you — just good, fun rock and roll music. Nothing with some grand message or mission behind it only memorable instrumentation, infectious melodies, clever lyrics and distinctive vocals.

 

I was really surprised to learn that Ric Ocasek was 75 when he died. I had no idea he was in his 30s when they experienced their first success. He never struck me as being older than the peers who were on the charts with them. Much like some of my other favorites who have gone over the past five or six years like Tom Petty, Prince, and David Bowie, The Cars music has a timeless, effortless quality about it, even when upon closer inspection, we see that its composition might be more complex than we realized.

Photo of Ric OCASEK and CARS and Greg HAWKES and Elliot EASTON
The Cars photo from Rolling Stone Magazine

I love continuing to run into their music in the unlikeliest places. Just the other day the song “Magic” was being used in a commercial, and I thought, it might be just a promo, but I’m glad younger generations may continue to run into their music, much the way younger fans have gotten to know groups like The Who, Journey and The Beatles through TV, film and other vehicles. I hope their music will continue to be enjoyed by the generations after me for years to come.

As for me, I know The Cars will always be part of an extremely pivotal chapter of my life growing into myself as of a teenager in the 80s.¬†Thanks, Ric, for all the uh-oh, it’s Magic.¬†And as always thank YOU for reading. ~ Chris K.

P.S. For an extra hoot, here is The Cars as they accept their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as part of the 2018 Class.

CarsInduction

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES OF ALL OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CARS.

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