I’ve been meaning to say on here for a very long time, but lemme get it off my chest right now: Gary Numan‘s “Cars” is not only a classic, but one of the greatest songs of all time. Easily. It’s right behind “Brooklyn Zoo.”
Just had to say that.
So this past week I’ve been diving into the music of the legendary British musician Gary Numan, who has forged a stellar career dating back to the ’70s, first as lead member of the band Tubeway Army and later as a solo musician. Numan’s style was pioneering for the era, embracing an androgynous look and employing futuristic, transhumanist themes to his sound and lyrics. Along with acts like Devo, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Kraftwerk, Numan was definitely heralding a new frontier for music at the dawn of the ’80s, and his early synthpop work has been crazy influential to popular music.
A massive international hit in 1979 “Cars” is an iconic track, and one of Numan’s best-known listens. This is a song I’ve heard more than a few times growing up, even hearing it prominently featured in a car commercial or two, which is wild because the song’s message is about the isolation and alienation of being in a car and driving. Whoops! But that’s neither here nor there, this track is flames! It sounds wonderfully robotic with those in-your-face synths, the incredible drums (peace to drummer Cedric Sharpley), and the soaring feel. Numan’s lyrics are simple and a bit stilted by design, which fits the tone well, but one of my most favorite parts of any song ever is when Numan steps aside and that incredible instrumental break goes off on the back half. It’s just….amazing. What a wonderful piece of music.