Monday, September 16, 2019

The First Time Ric Parked the Cars

As mentioned on these pages in 2016, the Cars were one of my favorite bands in middle and early high school. What I liked most about them was how they were common ground for every clique in class. Hoods and new wavers were especially in agreement on the first two albums. The self-titled debut is perfection. The biggest hits were on the A-side, but the B-side trifecta of "Bye Bye Love," "Moving in Stereo" and "All Mixed Up" was where I always went. A kid at a summer camp I went to when I was 13 had the cassette and played it on his boom box several times a day. I was hooked.

With the passing of Ric Ocasek, the accolades have been pouring in, and rightly so. I'm pleased so many are remembering him as a crack producer as well. There has been talk about how he influenced the sound of those he worked with behind the glass, and it got me thinking about a song where I think the opposite occurred. In 1982, between the 'Shake It Up' and 'Heartbeat City' albums, Ocasek released his first solo album. 'Beatitude' featured the safe single "Something to Grab For," and the song sounded a lot like, well, the Cars. It was album opener "Jimmy Jimmy," however, that I hope will be remembered. It has a real Suicide vibe, and I imagine it's no coincidence that Ocasek had produced 'Suicide: Alan Vega · Martin Rev' in 1980.

Jimmy Jimmy

I saw the Cars once, and it was at the band's zenith. It was on Aug. 6, 1984, at an outdoor theater in Chicago. A friend's mom took us. Wang Chung opened. What I will always remember was that they played "Jimmy Jimmy." It was a bold and surprising choice that I learned much later was a mainstay throughout the 'Heartbeat City' tour. Playing 'Beatitude' again today after so many years was special, but I wish the circumstances for remembering it was different. Rest easy, Ric.


The Swede said...

Fascinating. I can certainly hear the Suicide vibe in 'Jimmy Jimmy'. My own Cars collection might only have ever ran to a handful of singles, but 'Moving in Stereo' featured on many a home-made compilation tape back in the day. RIP Ric.

Charity Chic said...

I was never really a fan of the band but sad to hear that he has passed on