This is where things get a little weird. “Cars,” Gary Numan’s hit single from 1979, is a synth-drenched oddity, apparently more an excuse to have a band composed of four keyboardists and a drummer than an actual song. There are barely any lyrics (just four verses, with no chorus), and really, the song seems to be about hitting that slamming riff that opens the song as many times as possible, while throwing in the only other melodic figure in the song every once in a while just to mix things up. It’s one of those tunes I can’t really understand as a hit – it’s like “She Blinded Me With Science” – not a novelty tune, but certainly not what you would expect the public to latch on to. Give the original a listen and see if I’m being too harsh on it:
Weird, right? In any case, for some reason (perhaps just perverse curiosity), I decided to pick this as the fourth one-hit wonder I’m covering for the challenge. This one was definitely tricky, and I’m not sure it was entirely successful. I re-tuned my guitar to an open D tuning (D-G-D-G-A-D) to try and get a bigger sound, with lots of open strings ringing out to support the melody. Then, I picked up the main riff and the second part and expanded them a little. Finally, I swapped in sort of a chordal solo for the extended synth orgy that ends the original tune, and there we have it. I’ll go back to something more traditional tomorrow, but I’m glad I made the attempt here, even if it’s a little wacky.
And the video (I put some cars in there, just to vary things up a little. If you like cars, this one’s for you.)
(The suggestion here came from Irene Vavulitsky, a longtime friend and colleague. I never would have picked it in a million years, so thank you Irene! I still have the back four slots open, although I’ve gotten a ton of suggestions. I’m probably going to decide which ones to do tomorrow, so that I can record the tunes over the weekend. Should be fun!)