I decided I would try to post the most famous 5 star song in my collection. At first I thought it would be easy since I consider “I Will Always Love You” a perfect song…and it’s pretty much the biggest song of all time! But it’s Dolly’s not-so-famous version that gets all the stars. Whitney, um, 3 ½ stars (don’t be a hater!)
Then I started thinking that big hits from the past may not be as recognizable to today’s kids as I might think. Some oldies are so embedded in my memory that it’s hard to imagine someone young today not knowing, say “Manic Monday” by the Bangles or “Whip It” by Devo.
I could probably feature either one of those two, but instead I’m going with “Cars” by Gary Numan. Surely the cool factor of that song has jumped from one generation to the next…and well, another generation after that (how time flies!)
The 1979 song was a big hit all over the world, and is considered an early new wave classic. Writer, producer, and singer Gary Numan explains how it’s based on an actual driving incident in London:
“I was in traffic in London once and had a problem with some people in front. They tried to beat me up and get me out of the car. I locked the doors and eventually drove up on the pavement and got away from them. It’s kind of to do with that. It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world. When you’re in it, your whole mentality is different…it’s like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.”
Sounds about right, even 35 years later.
So whoever is reading this, do you recognize “Cars?” Is it still famous??
There’s not a lot of info online about this song, so I need to quote directly from the CD compilation that the song comes from. It’s a bit of an honor to do so since the liner notes are written by Bob Stanley of the magnificent British pop band Saint Etienne, who are tied with Pet Shop Boys as my favorite band of all time.
Bob Stanley is quite the expert on pop music. So much so that he recently released a book about it called “Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop.” He also has a long career as a music journalist in England, writing for Melody Maker, NME, The Guardian and The Times, when he’s not crafting beautiful pop songs with bandmates Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell. (Post on them coming soon).
It was in 1994 that Stanley worked with R.P.M. Records to compile and write notes for the first Dream Babes brit-girl CD. It was a smash hit for me. I awarded it best album of the year, an easy choice with TEN five star songs. And probably most importantly it gave me a new genre of music to obsess over for years to come.
Here’s what Bob Stanley wrote about the 1966 song “Cry To Me” by The Track:
“The Track were a two girl/four boy bunch drawn together from all over Britain, apparently formed exclusively to play at Tiffany’s in Manchester. Their one and only single for Columbia featured a so-so “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” on the topside, with a splendid Don Paul song “Cry To Me” on the flip. The girls sounding most Breakaways-esque here were Leeds-born Sandra Stevens, and a Scot called Eve Eden, who - as Eve Graham - would later become a multi-million selling New Seeker.”
If you’re old enough to remember the classic 1971 Coca Cola commercial (with the hillside of people singing “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”) than you actually know the New Seekers. Eve Graham sang lead on the original version of the song, which you can see on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWKznrEjJK4
But let’s turn the clock back even further to 1966, before Eve was famous, and take a listen to a lost gem brought back to life for a new generation. Thanks Bob!
I joked with a blog friend that my next post would be something short and easy “like an ABBA song” after the hard work I put into my all-time favorite song post last week. And then I realized it was the perfect idea! Everyone knows and loves ABBA, the Swedish sensation that at one time ranked 2nd only to automaker Volvo as Sweden’s biggest money making export. I love that statistic. I also love that their music is still as popular today as it was in the 70’s. Thank you Anni-Frid, Benny, Björn, and Agnetha for the absolutely perfect “The Name Of The Game” from 1977.