Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Cars" (1980)

83. Gary Numan, "Cars" (March 29, 1980, #9)

Along about the time this creased radio airwaves I happened to be a big personal champion of new wave—I desperately wanted to believe that Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Iggy, Bowie et al. could, given the right circumstances (read: exposure), wreak the same kind of cultural earthquakes that Elton John did, if not the Beatles or Elvis Presley. Heck, they had already done so with me. My fondest dream then was to see the Ramones score a hit. I was probably wrong about the potential there, but that doesn't mean any of it ever got the fair chance it shoulda coulda woulda. The industry at that moment was just then entering a distinctly innovative and higher plateau of corruption, and new wave acts almost by definition tended to be either too naïve or plain too poor to work the pay-to-play routes (which alone pretty much puts the lie to all their smug poses of knowingness—at bottom most of these acts were plain innocents, probably one of the reasons I liked it all so much in the first place). Which brings us, in extremely roundabout fashion, to the androidish syntho extravaganza of Gary Numan and his lumbering, robotic, and ever-so ironic love poem to the alienation and isolation wrought by the automobile: "Here in my car / I can only receive / I can listen to you / It keeps me stable for days / In cars." I think, when all is said and done, that we're going to have to go with "novelty" on this when it comes to explaining the success. Who knows anyway what he's going on about? Who cares? It sounded just weird and just catchy enough that everybody wanted another listen at it, and so here we are now.

No comments:

Post a Comment