A little recording update for you: we have two or three new songs that are in the works, two of which are really very close to being ready to be released. I will continue, as ever, to ask for your patience, but I hope that you end up loving them as much as we do.
#3 – The Cars (The Cars, 1978)
This is the album that made me pick up the guitar when I was ten years old, and I’m really glad that I’m writing this at the very beginning of summer, as that’s the time of year I first heard this. My neighbor Willie K had The Cars’ first album on vinyl, and I brought over my little cassette tape player, put it on one of his stereo speakers, and recorded “Good Times Roll“, “Best Friend’s Girl”, “Just What I Needed“, “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight”, and “Bye Bye Love“.
“Don’t keep playing them over and over,” Willie said. “You’ll get tired of them.” I didn’t but maybe the rest of my family did. Those five songs on a $.99 cassette got played over and over and over again – hundreds of times – that summer of 1978.
The songs are frighteningly catchy, in terms of both lyric and music. The music itself was easy enough to play, but very difficult to master. The solo to “Just What I Needed” was the first I ever learned all the way through. Eliot Easton’s incredible facility with the guitar was mind blowing, and only looked all the more mystical when you watched him play left-handed.
The whole album presaged what eventually would become new wave, and The Cars themselves toned down and simplified their musical style over the following albums, but this first album remains an incredibly memorable classic, and one that significantly affected how I approach playing and songwriting.
Tunnel 18 played “Best Friend’s Girl” as part of its live set in the early days, and it was one of those songs that absolutely got the crowd into the show.* Our version as a three-piece was even simpler than the Cars original, but I still love going back and listening to how that the folks that came out to listen to us responded.
(*Nirvana also covered the song in 1994. Clearly, we gave them the idea.)