Monday, September 05, 2011

Reminisce Like This



Well, kids, there used to be a thing called AOR, and Album Oriented Rock radio stations would play entire albums from beginning to end, particularly in the late evening, and I used to stay at my grandparents' house as a teenager when my mother and I weren't getting along. This combination of factors led to my hiding between the window and the bed to muffle the sound and taping the entirety of Candy-O from the radio, after discovering that my grandparents' ancient, half-broken boom box would miraculously do so.

The year was probably 1983 or 4. There I huddled, on the floor, right against the knotty pine window ledge, trying to turn the music up as loud as I thought I could manage without waking my early to bed, early to rise grandfather, or alerting my night owl grandmother. The doing involved some sacrifice, too, as I had to tape over something else I'd captured on the used-and-reused thirty-three cent cassette. How did I know about The Cars? My brother (nine years older than me) had a 45 of "Let's Go." I'd seen Fast Times at Ridgemont High and witnessed "Moving In Stereo's" precisely prudent placement in that. Maybe I'd seen them on the Midnight Special or something. My sense of "this is something I don't understand but I sense that it rules" had kicked in. So I lay there, listening, being astonished, lying on the floor and just absorbing the record into my consciousness, though there wasn't even a cover to stare at, just the capstans moving the tiny white teeth round and round and round. It was new wave, but it was rock. It was spare but melodic. It was futuristic, even, as Double Life segued into Shoo Be Doo, crashed into Candy-O. It enchanted my young, stupid heart, and it hasn't ever stopped.

Fast forward to the present day: I still have Candy-O on my iTunes. I buy Ric Ocasek-inspired sunglasses. I tear up when I watch the video for "Drive" and see Benjamin Orr singing. I am still awed by the quiet style and substance of this collective from Boston. I even know a guy who claims to have mowed their drummer's lawn as a youth. So I knew they'd put out a new album, and I feared to listen. I feared any descent from the glossy black pedestal upon which they sat. But I ran across an article in Rolling Stone, and I read it, and I got curious, so I fired it up. With trepidation, I searched for Move Like This on Grooveshark. With trembling I pressed "Play All." By the second track, "Too Late," I developed a curious lump in my throat, made of collected realization that even though Benjamin Orr was gone, they'd done it. They'd made another Cars record, and by the last track, I knew that again they'd distilled again, in new iteration, the optimistic longing.

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"Lift me from the wondermaze, alienation is the craze." -- R. Ocasek

1982 Ocasek interview

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