When I trace the roots of my love and appreciation for a variety of styles of music, I first credit my parents’ record collection. My mother, a lover of melody and harmony who was once part of a doo-wop-inspired quintet in our hometown of Columbus, Ohio – was a massive fan of Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach, Johnny Mathis and The Carpenters, while my father introduced me to The Beatles’ “Abbey Road”.
From my vantage point, The Beatles were really the first eclectic rock group, pushing the boundaries of the rock form beyond it’s blues roots, integrating Paul McCartney’s fondness for music hall (the Brit’s answer to American vaudeville), George Harrison’s love of Indian sitar music, and George Martin’s classical prowess, for starters.
But those early loves of mine were all from a previous generation.
The Cars were my first favorite band of my time.
Looking back, they were a worthy successor to The Beatles’ eclecticism, what New York Times critic Robert Palmer described as an appealing blend of punk minimalism, the labyrinthine synthesizer and guitar textures of art rock, the ’50s rockabilly revival and the melodious terseness of power pop.”
At the heart of their success of course were the songs of Ric Ocasek, and the guiding hand of producer Roy Thomas Baker. But it was the elemental arrangements and Ocasek’s endearing voice, with its tenuous pitch, straining with emotion that distinguished them.
I’ve never met Ric. But today, I will. And you can too.
I’ll be hosting a Q&A with him to celebrate the release of his new book, Lyrics & Prose, a collection of his song lyrics starting from his band’s 1978 debut, continuing on through his solo career and up until 2011’s Move Like This, which was the first new album from The Cars in 25 years. The book also features early handwritten notes, set lists, doodles and photographs.
Feel free to join us. The event starts at 6pm tonight in the jazz room at Amoeba. Amoeba Music in Hollywood. Details are here.
— Chris Douridas