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Monday, September 19, 2011


Gary Numan - Cars (1979)

Well, I think I found the break. This song was released in the summer of 1979, but is clearly remembered as an "80s" song. I'm marking it at 70s as far as the labels go, because it's a date, not a genre.

Beginning with an ominous oscillating electric mid ranged sound, this song quickly kicks into the well known synth heavy riff that even Homer Simpson can sing along with. Outside of the percussion, (hey there tambourine solo!) you would think the entire song is recorded on keyboards. You would be wrong. The production notes mention bass guitar. I think it must of been doubled by keyboard, because even the bottom most notes in every groove have that synthesized sound. Even the vocals are intentionally "robotic" sounding like they've been compressed.

Lyrically the song reminds us that when we are inside of our cars, we in the modern world feel safely cut off from everyone else. Reading the lyrics as a poem, it sounds like a mentally unstable homeless person that lives in a run down part of town in their bombed out car is slowly beginning the process of healing. I'm imagining an "80s movie" with Jodie Foster as the psychologist trying to heal the protagonist, and bearded Robin Williams as the homeless crazy. It would be a bust at the box office, but a critical success. Siskel would have hated it, but Ebert would have talked about what a great serious role it was for Robin Williams. It would mostly be remembered as one of the early film roles of Leaf (soon to be Joaquin) Phoenix.

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