Cars – You Might Think

Another Cars release and another catchy song. This song was released in 1984 on the album Heartbeat City. The song was written by Ric Ocasek. The album was produced by Mutt Lange who was an in-demand producer in the 1980s.

You Might Think peaked at #7 in the Billboard100, #8 in Canada, #88 in the UK, and #27 in New Zealand in 1984.

The album Heartbeat City peaked at #3 in the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in Canada, #25 in the UK, and #1 in New Zealand in 1985.

The video won the first-ever Video of the Year award at MTV’s Video Music Awards. It beat out “Thriller” by Michael Jackson and Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” among others.

The video took months to make. The effects seen in the video can be created with a basic program these days, but in 1984 creating and rendering this stuff was extremely tedious and time-consuming.

Jeff Stein directed the video. in 1979 he had directed The Who’s documentary The Kids Are Alright.

From Songfacts

The video was very advanced for the time and was one of the first to use computerized effects. Singer/guitarist Ric Ocasek’s image appeared in various animated scenes – he would show up as a fly, climbing the Empire State Building, just about anywhere to get the attention of the girl. The object of his affection was played by model Susan Gallagher.

Weezer recorded this for the 2011 movie Cars 2 – their version was used in a scene where Lightning McQueen and Mater go to Japan. The actual Cars had reunited by 2011, but apparently weren’t contemporary enough for the kids’ movie.

The antecedent for the video were commercials for the American gossip magazine National Enquirer, which featured goofy cutout animations of the celebrities the magazine would feature. These spots were produced at Charlex studios, so Jeff Stein, who directed the “You Might Think” video, commissioned them to work on it after pitching The Cars on the idea, which was putting the band in pop culture scenarios and having an animated Ric Ocasek stalk the girl. Getting the band on board wasn’t easy. Stein explained in the book I Want My MTV: “I met The Cars and told them, ‘The band’s in the medicine chest, and then on a bar of soap, and Ric’s a fly,’ and one of them said, ‘Why don’t we all just play on a turd in the toilet bowl?’ That was the prevailing attitude.”

Stein was famous for his live videos like what he did with Billy Idol on “Rebel Yell,” but he thought The Cars were a boring live band so he used digital trickery to get around that.

This song was used throughout the CBS TV series BrainDead, which ran for one season in 2016. The show was about ants that take over the brains of politicians. The song played to indicate a character who has been infected.

This was used on the series finale of The Office in 2013. It plays while Erin dances with her biological father at Angela and Dwight’s wedding reception.

You Might Think

You might think I’m crazy
To hang around with you
Maybe you think I’m lucky
To have something to do

But I think that you’re wild
Inside me is some child

You might think I’m foolish
Or maybe it’s untrue
(You might think) you might think I’m crazy
(All I want) but all I want is you

You might think it’s hysterical
But I know when you’re weak
You think you’re in the movies
And everything’s so deep

But I think that you’re wild
When you flash that fragile smile

You might think it’s foolish
What you put me through
(You might think) you might think I’m crazy
(All I want) but all I want is you

And it was hard, so hard to take
There’s no escape without a scrape

You kept it going ’till the sun fell down
You kept it going

Well you might think I’m delirious
The way I run you down
But somewhere sometimes, when you’re curious
I’ll be back around

Oh I think that you’re wild
And so uniquely styled

You might think it’s foolish
This chancy rendezvous
(You might think) you might think I’m crazy
(All I want) but all I want is you
All I want is you
All I want is you

Big Star – #1 Record…Desert Island Albums

This is my third round choice from Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days.
2020 ALBUM DRAFT-ROUND 3 PICK 6- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- BIG STAR- #1 RECORD

“Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1971 but didn’t arrive until 1985.”
Musician Robyn Hitchcock 

I never travel far, without a little Big Star
The Replacements

“We’ve sort of flirted with greatness, but we’ve yet to make a record as good as Revolver or Highway 61 Revisited or Exile on Main Street or Big Star’s Third.”
Peter Buck

The band didn’t chart a record when they were active. I still hold their music up along with The Who, Beatles. and Kinks…they never had the sales but they did have a giant influence. They released this album as their debut in August of 1972.  I had to stop myself from writing an open love letter (I may have failed) about this band. Was it the mystique of them? Was it the coolness factor of liking a band that not many people knew? No and no. It’s about the music. Mystique and coolness wear off and all you are left with is the music…We are fortunate to have 3 albums by Big Star to enjoy.

In the early eighties, I heard stories from an older brother of a friend about Big Star out of Memphis…but their records were hard to come by.  I loved what little I heard and it got lost in the shuffle but it planted a seed for later. 

By the mid-80s I heard more of their songs. In 1986 The Bangles released “September Gurls” and I knew it sounded familiar…and the DJ said it was a Big Star song…then came the song, Alex Chilton, by The Replacements and  I’m ashamed to say it wasn’t until the early nineties, I finally had Big Star’s music along with the Raspberries and Badfinger. My power-pop fandom kicked into high gear and I have never left that genre.

Big Star was the best band never heard. Such a great band but a long frustrating story. They made three albums that were among the best of the decade that were not heard until much later. They signed with Ardent which was a subsidiary of Stax Records.

A power-pop band on the soul Stax label doesn’t sound like a good idea now and it wasn’t then. Stax was failing at that time and could not distribute the records to the stores. Kids loved the music on the radio only to go to a record store with no Big Star records. Rolling Stone gave them rave reviews…but that doesn’t help if the album is not out there to purchase. They were through by 1974 after recording their 3rd album.

When their albums were finally discovered by eighties bands, they influenced many artists such as REM, The Replacements, Cars, Cheap Trick, Sloan, Matthew Sweet, KISS, Wilco, Gin Blossoms, and many more. They influenced alternative rock of the 80s and 90s and continue to this day.

Listening to this album with each song you think…Oh, that could have been a single. Alex Chilton and Chris Bell wrote most of the songs and wanted to emulate Lennon/McCartney and they did a great job but with an obvious American slant to make it their own. After the commercial failure of this album, Chris Bell quit but the other three continued for one more album and then bass player Andy Hummel quit after the second album, and Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens recorded the third.

I could have gone with ANY three of their albums. I picked this one because of Chris Bell. The songs are a bit more polished on this one than the other two but it fits the songs they present. Chris Bell added a lot to Big Star and after hearing his solo song I Am The Cosmos you see how much. Radio City, their second album, with Chilton in charge many consider their best and their third album, Third/Sister Lovers is not as commercially accessible but I still love it. All three are in Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time.

I’ll go over four songs.

The Ballad Of El Goodo  A song about Vietnam conscientious objector…but it is much more than that. It is one of the most perfect pop/rock songs recorded to my ears. This would make it in my own top 10 songs of all time. The tone of the guitars, harmonies and the perfectly constructed chorus keeps calling me back listen after listen. This is when pop music becomes more.

In The Street is a song that everyone will know. It was used as the theme of That Seventies Show. Cheap Trick covered it for the show. I was not a teenager in the early seventies but with this song, I am there front and center. Steal your car and bring it down, Pick me up, we’ll drive around, Wish we had, A joint so bad.

Thirteen is a song that Chilton finds that spot between the innocence of childhood and the first teenage year where they meet and intertwine with confusion. Won’t you tell your dad, “get off my back” Tell him what we said ’bout “Paint It Black”

When My Baby’s Beside Me has a great guitar riff to open it up. This is power pop at it’s best. A nice rocker that should have been blaring out of AM radios in the 70’s.

I’m not going over every song (but I could easily) because reading this won’t do it…you have to listen if you haven’t already. You will not regret it. Not just these songs but the complete album.

It’s a mixture of songs on the album…rockers, mid-tempo songs, and ballads. Even the weaker song called The India Song is very listenable. My favorites besides the ones I listed are  Watch the Sunrise, Don’t Lie To Me, Feel, and Give Me Another Chance.

I now have rounded out my albums on my island. The variety of The White Album, The rock of Who’s Next, and the ringing power-pop beauty of Big Star…swim or use a boat and come over to my island and we will listen…the Pina Coladas and High Tides (hey it’s an island) are flowing… let’s drink to BIG STAR.

On a side note. If you want to learn more there is a good documentary out about them called: Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.

Feel
The Ballad Of El Goodo
In The Street
Thirteen
Don’t Lie To Me
The India Song
When My Baby’s Beside Me
My Life Is Right
Give Me Another Chance
Try Again
Watch The Sunrise
ST 100/6

  • Chris Bell – guitar, vocals
  • Alex Chilton – guitar, vocals
  • Andy Hummel – bass guitar, vocals
  • Jody Stephens – drums

 

 

 

Cars – Shake It Up

Shake It Up was the title track to The Cars’ fourth album. This was their first top 10 hit which is surprising with all of the well-known songs they had released to this point.

They had been playing around with this song for a few years but they didn’t like the sound of it. They basically started all over and changed the song completely and then worked it out.

The Shake It Up album came out in 1981, just a few months after the first MTV broadcast. The release became a big hit for the Cars, a top 10 album that would eventually go multi-platinum… aided by this song.

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #7 in Canada, and #26 in New Zealand in 1982.

The album peaked at #9 in the Billboard Album Chart.

The song is typical Cars…catchy chorus and full of hooks. Ric Ocasek wrote the song but did say he was never too thrilled about the lyrics.

Drummer David Robinson: “We recorded [‘Shake It Up’] a couple of times in the studio and dumped it, and we were going to try it one more time, and I was fighting everybody,” “So we thought, let’s start all over again, like we’ve never even heard it – completely change every part – and we did. Then, when it was through and all put back together, it was like a brand-new song.”

 

From Songfacts

Written by frontman Ric Ocasek, it’s an outlier in that it’s very straightforward, simply encouraging us all to get on the dance floor and boogie like nobody’s watching. Ocasek’s songs were generally far more enigmatic.

This song has some throwback elements, like the “ooo ooo ooo” backing vocals and references to a “quirky jerk” and “night cats” – lingo that was hep in the ’60s when songs about dancing were in vogue. At the same time, “Shake It Up” as a futuristic sound, with synthesizers and drum machines that were part of the new wave.

Released as the lead single from the album, “Shake It Up” was a big American hit for The Cars, getting them into the Top 10 for the first time. Some fans accused them of “selling out,” but the band insisted they were simply progressing (one point in their defense: they continued to live in Boston instead of relocating to New York or Los Angeles). The jabs came mostly from the UK, where the band got lots of positive press early on but faced the wrath of a finicky press when they released this song about dancing. In the UK, “Shake It Up” wasn’t released as a single.

The Cars are one of the groups who can be credited with opening the New Wave sound up to the mainstream. As noted in Seventies Rock: The Decade of Creative Chaos, “The fact that new music was getting airplay at all – New Wave or not – was somewhat remarkable.” When The Cars came on the scene in 1978, the Bee Gees and all the disco craze they brought with them dominated the charts. While mainstream radio was reluctant to put a punk record on the air, it found New Wave less intimidating.

Meanwhile, Ken Tucker muses about the New Wave movement in The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll: “Kids all over the country decided to play Record Promotion: if the big boys wouldn’t sign up their local bands, the fans would, with a vengeance. Mimeographed manifestos and homemade rock magazines multiplied as ways to push burgeoning local scenes; they plugged cherished unknowns and finessed an ad hoc network for distributing their records.” Notice any similarities with 1978 music culture and the Internet-fostered music scene now?

Shake It Up Demo

Shake It Up Studio Version

Shake It Up

Uh well, dance all night, play all day
Don’t let nothin’ get in the way
Dance all night, keep the beat
Don’t you worry ’bout two left feet

Shake it up
Shake it up, oo yeah
Shake it up
Shake it up

Dance all night and get real loose
You don’t need no bad excuse
Dance all night with anyone
Don’t let nobody pick your fun

Shake it up, oo, oo
Shake it up, yeah yeah
Shake it up, oo, oo
Shake it up

That’s right, I said
Dance all night
Go go go
Dance all night
Get real low
Go all night
Get real hot
Well, shake it up now, all you’ve got, woo

Dance
Oo dance

Uh well, dance all night and whirl your hair
Make the night cats stop and stare
Dance all night, go to work
Do the move with a quirky jerk

Just shake it up, oo oo
Shake it up, oo yeah
Shake it up
Shake it up

Uh well, dance all night
Go go go
Get so light
Get real low
Dance all night
Get real hot
Shake it up, with all you’ve got, woo

Shake it up, make a scene
Let them know what you really mean
And dance all night, keep the beat
And don’t you worry ’bout two left feet

Just shake it up, oo, oo
Shake it up, oo oo, yeah
Shake it up, oo, oo
Shake it up, oh, yeah

Shake it up, shake it up babe
Shake it up, oo, oo
Shake it up, shake it up babe
Shake it up, oo, oo

Shake it up, shake it up, yeah yeah, shake it up
Oo oo, shake it up
Shake it up, shake it up babe
Shake it up, oo, oo

Gary Numan – Cars

This song was released in 1979  was one of many signs a change was coming in music. The song peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100,  #1 in the UK and #1 in Canada. The song was keyboard driven with a synth riff.

Gary Numan on the inspiration of the song. “A couple of blokes started peering in the window and for whatever reason took a dislike to me, so I had to take evasive action. I swerved up the pavement, scattering pedestrians everywhere. After that, I began to see the car as the tank of modern society.”

Numan has stated that he has Asperger syndrome, which is a mild form of autism, but until he was diagnosed, he had a lot of trouble relating to other people.

From Songfacts.

Even though the message of this song is that cars lead to a mechanical society devoid of personal interaction, it didn’t stop automakers from using it in commercials. Both Nissan and Oldsmobile have used it in ads.

A more clever approach came from Diehard, who created a commercial where Numan played the song on 24 car horns powered by just one of their batteries. Numan has no problem with his song being used in commercials, telling us, “I’m up for that, actually. I think any use of it at all. It would be great if it happened again.”

In the UK, this was used in an American Express commercial in the ’80s, as well as an ad for Carling beer that ran in 1996. The beer commercial gave the song new life in the UK.

TV series that have used this song in some form include The SimpsonsFamily GuySouth Park and Two and a Half Men.

Numan made a video for this with special effects that look ridiculous now, but were cutting edge in 1979. When MTV went on the air in 1981, it was one of about 200 videos they had, so they played it over and over. This made the song a hit in the US.

Numan explained to Rolling Stone how he came up with this song’s synthesizer hook: “I have only written two songs on bass guitar and the first one was ‘Cars.’ I had just been to London to buy a bass and when I got home the first thing I played was that intro riff. I thought, ‘Hey, that’s not bad!’ In 10 minutes, I had the whole song. The quickest one I ever wrote. And the most famous one I’d ever written. More people should learn from that.”

Numan took his surname from a plumber in the telephone directory called Neumann Kitchen Appliances. He told NME he tried to find a two-syllable name, “because my real name Webb didn’t seem very cool.”

Cars

Here in my car
I feel safest of all
I can lock all my doors
It’s the only way to live in cars.

Here in my car
I can only receive
I can listen to you
It keeps me stable for days in cars.

Here in my car
Where the image breaks down
Will you visit me please
If I open my door in cars

Here in my car
You know I’ve started to think
About leaving tonight
Although nothing seems right in cars.