Remembering The Cars; Pinegrove tonight…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , — @ 12:42 pm September 17, 2019

Ric Ocasek at the office.

by Tim McMahan,

You never think that these people will one day be gone: Tom Petty, Eddie Money, Ric Ocasek. Just like you can’t remember a time when their music wasn’t around. But there was a time before The Cars. I know. I was alive then. The first record came out in 1978. Its music was plunked onto FM radio and was something totally different but at the same time very similar to the sounds that came before it.

To me, the primary ingredient was the band’s persona. They were cool and a little weird, part of the punk rock scene, but accessible to the masses. Their songs were insidiously dark, the opposite of cock rock, and they were songs sung by a bunch of nerds who were as strange and ugly as the rest of us who didn’t identify with the hair metal of the day. The Cars were cool because they looked and sounded different, and you just assumed that’s how they were, that they weren’t trying to be different.

I loved the band. Their music played a big role in my high school and college years. We all know how great their first two albums were, but Heartbeat City was just as cool and notable and probably spent more time in my cassette player than any of the others. There were rumors the album was as much about drugs as it was about love. I loved that mystery. I was lucky enough to have seen them live when they came to the Civic Auditorium on tour supporting that album in 1984. Wang Chung opened.

Anyway, The Cars always were there, even when they weren’t. And when they had a sort of comeback a few years ago (in 2011) with Move Like This, it made me wonder if they could repeat their success in the digital age without Ben Orr, who had passed away the year prior, but it ended up being a one-and-done event.

And now Ocasek’s gone and it’s hard to think of a world without The Cars. But here we are.

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Is there a band more opposite of The Cars than Pinegrove? I can’t think of one. The New Jersey indie band, which plays often somber indie folk music, headlines tonight at The Waiting Room. Their latest album, Marigold, was released this past March on Rough Trade. Stephen Steinbrink and Common Holly open at 8 p.m. $25.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2019 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.