Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Since You're Gone" by the Cars - February 17th 80's Quest Song/Band of the day

Boston band that made the big-time, The Cars, are the 80's Quest band of the day.  The Cars debut album hit the airwaves in 1978 and rocked everyone's world.  In my opinion it is one of the best albums ever released, as every song on it became a hit.  Can't go wrong with that one!  If you had to be stranded on a desert island and could only take 5 CD's of music with you, this might be one of them you want to pick so you would be guaranteed a big smattering of great songs.  The Cars were a band that sounded like something completely new and different back then because they were mixing classic rock-and-roll songs with a more synthesizer-based new wave kind of feel.

"Since You're Gone" is one of The Cars songs from 1981's Shake it Up album.  I remember it well, because when I was learning to play the drums my senior year of high school, my teacher told me to pick a song that I had heard on the radio to learn (so it would be something fun that I wanted to learn), but it had to be very simple to start.  "Since You're Gone" fit the bill, and I played it over, and over, and over and over again in my basement trying to get it down on my drum set.

The Cars were also my very first real concert that I went to.  This was back in 1984 in support of their Heartbeat City album.  It was my friend's absolute favorite band so we got tickets and drove down to the Worcester Centrum in Massachusetts to see them.  We had a deal going, because the next month we were on the road again for my second real concert, and this time my absolute favorite band, Duran Duran on the Seven and the Ragged Tiger tour.  The things I remember most about The Cars concert was that they did not move around very much on stage (They are not all that exciting live, but excellent to listen to!).  Prior to the concert my friend (the big fan) and I had driven to the funky, cool vintage shops that were all over Portsmouth, NH at the time, and she bought this vintage white sequined dress to wear to the concert in hopes that the lights would glint off of her dress, and the lead singer Ric Ocasek, would see her.  She had a big crush on him.  Not my type...but I think his robins egg blue suit is looking pretty cool in this video, that's for sure!  He does have a sense of coolness about him, for sure.  I don't know how it all started andcame to pass, but I do remember that after the concert we somehow ended up following The Cars limousine at a high rate of speed on the highway.  We were desperately trying not to lose them, and were riding really fast.  We didn't even know where we were going, but when they rolled down the window we could see Ric Ocasek inside the limo, and we were freaking out.  We ended up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and a big gate opened and the limo drove up the driveway to a big fancy house, and that was that.  We drove back to our modest homes in New Hampshire!

Ric Ocasek (vocals, guitar) and Benjamin Orr (bass) met in Columbus Ohio and started performing together.  Boston was a great place for bands to "break" in the 70's and 80's, so they decided to move there and better their chances.  They met Greg Hawkes (keyboards) who had studied at Boston's Berklee College of Music and formed a folk band that they played around in for awhile, and which Hawkes left for awhile.

Ocasek and Orr teamed up with Elliot Easton (guitars), another former Berklee student, in a band called  Cap'n Swing.  Orr was acting as the lead vocalist at this time.  Cap'n Swing was a little jazzy sounding, and Ocasek wanted to play rock-and-roll, so he formed a new band, The Cars, and took Orr and Easton with him.  They got David Robinson to play drums, and got Hawkes back in the fold again...and voila!  Musical magic!

The band toured all around New England in 1976-1977 and began writing and working on the songs that would become their debut album.  They had a demo for the song "Just What I Needed" which they submitted to famed Boston radio station WBCN, which was known for being one of the first stations to break new bands because their DJ's could play whatever they wanted on their shows, and not have to stick to some sort of pre-formatted playlist like most other stations did.  DJ, Maxanne Sartori began playing "Just What I Needed" on her show, and the band blew up!  They were signed to Elektra Records and released their self-titled debut album in 1978.  All the other hit songs on that album included:  "Good Times Roll", "My Best Friend's Girl", "I'm in Touch With Your World", "Don't Cha Stop", "You're All I've Got Tonight", "Bye Bye Love", "Moving in Stereo" and "All Mixed Up".

Their next album Candy-O was released the following year (1979) and again charted a number of hits including "Let's Go", "It's All I Can Do" and "Dangerous Type".  The cover of the album was a commissioned piece of art by Alberto Vargas, famous for his "Vargus Girls" drawings.  It featured a long-legged red head woman in a black mesh leotard sprawled out on the hood of a car, and became one of the quintessential rock-and-roll album covers.

Their next album, 1980's Panorama did not do poorly, but only charted one hit, "Touch and Go".  By 1981 The Cars purchased a recording studio on Boston's Newbury Street (right around the corner from Berklee College of Music), which was formerly known as Intermedia Studios.  They renamed it
Syncro-Sound Studios.  During the 80's it went on to become a real big deal around Boston, and many bands recorded there.  I remember whenever we would go down to Boston to hit all the great record and clothing stores, we would always walk past the studio (with it's brightly painted mural on the exterior) hoping that we might happen see The Cars or some other cool band going in or out.  Though many bands recorded there, and members of The Cars did their production work, the only Cars album recorded there was 1981's Shake it Up.    That album spawned two hits "Since You're Gone" and the song "Shake it Up".  The band went on hiatus after that and worked on some solo projects Ocasek's album Beatitude and Hawke's Niagra Falls.

After the break The Cars reunited and released their most successful album, 1984's Heartbeat City, which spawned numerous hits such as "You Might Think" (which won video of the year at the very first MTV Video Music Awards), "Magic", "Drive", "Hello Again" and "Why Can't I Have You".   They released a Greatest Hits album which contained a new song that became a hit single too, "Tonight She Comes", then took another break so members could pursue solo projects - this time Easton's Change No Change, and Orr's The Lace, and another by Ocasek, This Side of Paradise.

In 1987 The Cars released their last album together under this line-up.  The album, Door to Door did not approach the success of prior albums, but did have a hit song in "You Are the Girl".  The band broke up in 1988. 

In 2000 Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer.  Robinson retired from music, opened a restaurant, and worked in the restaurant business instead.  Ocasek continued performing as a solo artist.  Easton and Hawkes united with Todd Rundgren, Prairie Prince (of The Tubes) and Kasim Sulton (Utopia, Meatloaf) and formed a band they dubbed The New Cars.  They toured performing The Cars songs, some of Rundgren's solo works, and some new material. 

In 2010 the surviving members of the original Cars decided to reunite.  They did not feel they could replace their buddy Benjamin Orr, so Ocasek, Easton and Hawkes did all of the guitar and bass playing on the album they released entitled, Move Like This.  The album's first single, "Sad Song" received a lot of play and recognition on people's Facebook pages, and the band toured in support of the album.


Since you're gone the nights are getting strange
Since you're gone nothing's making sense
Since you're gone i stumble in the shade
Since you're gone everything's in perfect tense

I can't help it when you fall apart
I can't help it i guess you better start
That is forgetting about you

Since you're gone the nights are getting strange
Since you're gone i'm throwing it all away

I can't help it everything's a mess
I can't help it you're so treacherous
When it comes to tenderness

Since you're gone
Since you're gone i miss the peak sensation
Since you're gone i took the big vacation
Since you're gone i never feel sedate
Since you're gone the moonlight ain't so great

1 comment:

  1. One of the best of that class of bands that awkwardly straddled the 70s and 80s, though for a band that made such interesting music, they couldn't have a more standard story of struggle to notoriety, rise to fame, and fall from grace. Anybody who likes 90s rock would be doing themselves a favor to not ignore the Ocasek solo album from the middle part of that decade, Troublizing, it's really fantastic and was painfully missed.