Last week I started a new feature called retro Friday, where I introduce readers younger than me to some of what I consider the classic rock music of my teen years. I always liked rock. But I don’t think I really started paying attention to the bands themselves until I was maybe in seventh or eighth grade. I think maybe my interest at that time came from how much you were identified by your music. You were either a metal head, and listened to Metallica, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, etc. A punker—the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, The Clash. A discoer which required you to be a better dancer than I ever was. Or you listened to Barry Manilow and got beat up a lot.
Mostly I leaned toward heavy metal. (Okay, I might have had a Carpenters album or two, and I thought Billy Joel was pretty cool.) But I had a lot of friends who had the whole spiked hair, safety pin through the cheek thing going on. I honestly was not a huge fan of most of the music they listened to. It sounded like a bunch of screaming for the most part. But every once in a while, I’d hear a song that I really liked.
About the time I started high school, a new phrase was becoming more popular. New Wave. A lot of time it still referred to punk bands. But over time New Wave bands started to separate themselves. The cool thing about New Wave was that it didn’t sound like anything else out there. It wasn’t metal. It wasn’t punk. It wasn’t the slick rock of bands like Styx, Queen, and Boston. It had its own sound. Bands like the Knack and Talking Heads had a combination of interesting lyrics, a cool new sound, and an attitude that was still punk anti-establishment, but with less of a head banger mentality.
Right about then, a friend of mine whose dad owned what seemed to be a million real estate offices in Northern California introduced me to a band called The Cars. I loved them as soon as I heard them. There are a few bands whose sound is so unique you know a song is by them as soon as you hear it. The Cars were one of those bands.
Here’s one of my favorite songs off that first album he played for me that day.
This video was made by a fan, but I love it because it captures exactly who amazed I felt when I first heard the song. Here's the URL, in case the actual video doesn't come through on all of my links.