September 16, 2019

Goodbye to Ric Ocasek.



The Jon Pareles tribute at the NYT is "Ric Ocasek, New Wave Rock Visionary and Cars Co-Founder, Is Dead/The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee updated classic sounds for a broader pop audience, making polished songs with sonic depth."
From 1978 to 1988, Ocasek and the Cars merged a vision of romance, danger and nocturnal intrigue and the concision of new wave with the sonic depth and ingenuity of radio-friendly rock. The Cars managed to please both punk-rock fans and a far broader pop audience, reaching into rock history while devising fresh, lush extensions of it.
Pareles doesn't mention Talking Heads, but it always seemed to me that The Cars were like Talking Heads but easier — like The Monkees to the Beatles. And I don't mean that in a bad way.
[A]fter the Cars disbanded, he produced music for Weezer, Bad Religion and No Doubt.... After two previous marriages, Mr. Ocasek married the model and actress Paulina Porizkova in 1989; they met in 1984 while the Cars were making the music video for “Drive.”
Yes, he had a very beautiful wife (and she announced last year that they'd separated, in this Instagram message that I'm going to read as a statement of eternal love). Here's the video that brought them together, "Drive":



Who's gonna tell you when/It's too late?/Who's gonna tell you things/Aren't so great?/You can't go on/Thinking nothing's wrong, ohh no/Who's gonna drive you home/Tonight?

56 comments:

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The Cars: Candy-O

Best. Album. Cover. Ever.

rehajm said...

I loved The Cars and Ric Ocasek. They were in the sweet spot of my youth where music was (nearly) everything. Ric deserves a lifetime achievement award in ugly guy overachieving for Paulina. A ray hope to ugly guys everywhere I will miss him...

What's Paulina's status? Anybody know? I'm here for her...

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Benjamin Orzechowski - Benjamin Orr
He sang Drive.
He died in 2000.

RIP Ric Ocasek. Music genius & superstar.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

Paulina is so much better looking as a brunette.

SDaly said...

34 years is a very successful rock star-model marriage.

MadisonMan said...

The first Cars album was the perfect party album for a bunch of drunk kids.
I recall that Ric and Paulina married soon before/after(?) Billy Joel/Christie Brinkley, and that was a source of comment about models and musicians.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

It is funny that Althouse highlighted the one hit they had that was NOT sung by Ric Ocasek. The video for "All I Want is You" would have been better for featuring Mr. O.

Wilbur said...

I liked the song "Let's Go". A lot.
The rest? Meh.

AustinRoth said...

What Ignorance is Bliss said.

And Candy-O, played LOUD with Shoo be Doo leading in, is one of the great transitions in rock.

Ann Althouse said...

"Best. Album. Cover. Ever."

I had a friend who looked so much like that woman that to this day I have a hard time believing that wasn't her.

CWJ said...

Is that a sharpie in her hand?

Ann Althouse said...

"It is funny that Althouse highlighted the one hit they had that was NOT sung by Ric Ocasek. The video for "All I Want is You" would have been better for featuring Mr. O."

Huh? That's the video at the top of the post. I put "Drive" in the end because of Paulina Porizkova, Ocasek's wife.

rcocean said...

I'd be sad - if I knew who he was.

Ann Althouse said...

As for the "Drive" lyrics, they are written by Ocasek.

stever said...

They emerged during the years when disco had become big. They helped me stay sane. Ric was good. Alas it seems we lose a musical figure of our youth very often these days and we have Facebook to remind us multiple times.

Wilbur said...

The best album cover to me was "Luxury Liner" by Emmylou Harris.

Nonapod said...

The Cars are one of my favs. Like Cheap Trick (another one of my favorites), they played catchy-as-hell new wave power pop, they had that nerdy guy/good looking rockstar guy dynamic, and were so popular when I was a little kid the songs ended up being sort of woven into my DNA.

Ocasek produced Weezer's first few albums and Guided by Voices' best album.

RIP

Limited blogger said...

Cars kind of came out of left field for me.

But, it was just what I needed.

David Blaska said...

I just know there are tapes of the Monkees that will be released as "Hey Hey! The Monkees sing Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters."

Tom T. said...

He may be gone, but life's the same. Except for my shoes.

Wince said...

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...
It is funny that Althouse highlighted the one hit they had that was NOT sung by Ric Ocasek. The video for "All I Want is You" would have been better for featuring Mr. O.

Not to minimize Ric Ocasek, but song for song, I think most of the Cars hits were sung by Ben Orr.

That said, I found the voices of Ocasek and Orr to have a rare complementarity that made it hard to tell where one voice started and the other began.

Bono and Edge have a similar quality, but Edge doesn't take the lead.

CJinPA said...

The Cars achieved a special distinction: A band with more than one lead singer.

Beatles
Eagles
Fleetwood Mac
Monkees
Cars
???

Rick.T. said...

"It is funny that Althouse highlighted the one hit they had that was NOT sung by Ric Ocasek."

The internet says no. Ben also sang "Just What I Needed" and "Let's Go." To my ears, they sounded a lot alike.

Rick.T. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Sad fact is that people die. That's not news.

What is news (or at least a bit shocking to learn) is that Ocasek was 75. And Eddie Money who died last week was 70.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

It was early out here when I mis-wrote that! Agree with Wince on their voices.

Also since Cheap Truck came up, they were the same era. Saw them up close last year and was amazed that Zander now handled a lot of the rhythm guitar parts AND he could still sing the high parts ("The Flame" for example) at nearly 70. Outstanding show, even with a few missed notes.

Robert Cook said...

Years ago I saw Ric Ocasek and Paulina Porizkova walking on upper Broadway. They were a visually striking couple, both tall and slim.

Jack Klompus said...

Candy-O is underrated. The title track is fantastic. Ocasek produced some great albums including Rock for Light by Bad Brains. Sad loss. I never get the motivation of a commenter whose only motivation is to say "Who?" As pointless as the YouTube commenters who write out the lines from the video clip.

Jack Klompus said...

Yes, we're all aware that you live in New York.

Known Unknown said...

"Eddie Money who died last week was 70."

Money had esophageal cancer. Most of the time, people get sick but you don't hear about it until they're dead.

William said...

The differential in their looks was staggering. It was far more than the divide between even Billy Joel and Brinkley. This was possibly the greatest divide ever. It wasn't a Beauty and the Beast kind of divide either. Ric was skinny and kind of nerdy. One of the most inspirational love stories in the history of mankind.

William said...

I have no objections to celebrities dying. Still, I find it worrying that so many of them turn out to be younger than me. I'd prefer celebrities to die in their eighties or nineties. I guess rock stars live on a different time table though. Seventy five is extremely old for a rock star.

Browndog said...

I wore out the Cars debut album. Candy-O was a good album, with the song Candy-O being the worst track on it....in my opinion.

Gusty Winds said...

Read and interesting piece of info last night. Ocasek and Benjamin Orr were close friends, but the falling out was basically because Orr wanted to include songs his girlfriend wrote on a few albums, and Ocasek insisted 'that's not The Cars'. Strange dynamic in bands that those that get to go along for the ride with the main songwriter, can't just enjoy the ride.

Rich, famous, women, parties...and they still long for validation.

Orr did sing a lot of their great songs. "My Best Friends Girlfriend", "Just What I Needed", "Bye My Love", "Let's Go".

I thought Ocasek's best song was "Touch and Go" off Panorama.

Kevin said...

My son went to pre-school with Jonathan, Ric and Paulina's first son, in NYC. We went trick or treating in lower Manhattan with Jonathan and mom (and grandma) and spent time with them in their country house. In NYC, you have "play-dates", and there were lots of them. Paulina graciously arranged for one of her Czech family to take portrait pictures of our son when he was 5, and they are gorgeous. These were taken in the town house they had in the Gramercy area of NYC. Ric was very nice (cordial), and one weekend in the country apologized to my wife for showing up in his black robe in the afternoon (he slept usually until 2 or 3PM, having gone to bed habitually in the wee hours or later), but then said that, 'well, I guess, this is how you have always seen me!' Like I said, Ric was cordial, but Paulina and her family were extremely warm.

SDaly said...

I have no objections to celebrities dying.

Noted.

Yancey Ward said...

Drive was sung by Ocasek's fellow bandmember, Benjamin Orr, but was written by Ocasek. It is my favorite song by The Cars- it is intimately tied into my psyche because it was a hit in a particularly important time in my life- the day I started college.

Yancey Ward said...

And, of course, Moving in Stereo, from the band's first album, is music pretty much any boy who grew up in the early 1980s will recognize instantly, even if they never knew it was The Cars.

Yancey Ward said...

Ocasek was a giant- he wrote, or co-wrote pretty much every song recorded by The Cars. This is a sad day for people my age (53)- we basically grew up during The Cars' most successful period- 1978-1985.

Earnest Prole said...

The Cars' first album is the rarest of organic masterpieces: Every song the best version of its own greatness.

Yancey Ward said...

As for the albums- I rank this way:

(1) The Cars
(2) Heartbeat City
(3) Candy-O (the first of their albums I bought)
(4) Panorama
(5) Shake It Up
(6) Door to Door.

I bought all of them at one point or another. Definitely in my top 5 of favorite bands.

Earnest Prole said...

Pause for a moment to remember Ric Ocasek and his forgotten masterpiece Bye Bye Love.

Tomcc said...

According to Wiki, they had five children. Beautiful wife, successful career, children. Good life.
(I sincerely hope the kids have their mom's looks...)

Kay said...

The Cars were undeniably great, but I love him even more as a producer. He will be missed. His small role in the movie Hairspray is one of my favorites

Robert Cook said...

"Ocasek produced some great albums including Rock for Light by Bad Brains. Sad loss."

He was also a champion (and sometime producer) of the great NYC avant garde band SUICIDE. Giant kudos to him for that!

madAsHell said...

I'm looking at his wife, and I'm thinking he died of a broken heart.

Jim at said...

And, of course, Moving in Stereo, from the band's first album, is music pretty much any boy who grew up in the early 1980s will recognize instantly, even if they never knew it was The Cars.

Indeed. The night Phoebe Cates appeared on Letterman, good ol' Paul Schaffer and the boys played it as she made her entrance.

Anthony said...

I didn't really like them at first, they were too New Wave for me at the time. Still one of my 2nd- or 3rd-tier favorites, but either of the first two albums turned up to 11 are oh-so-much fun.

Worst concert ever though. I think it was like 1981/2. All they did was stand up on stage and play each song exactly like it was on the album. Didn't interact with the audience at all. Boring.

Wang Chung opened for them and they were vastly more entertaining.

Phil said...

Anthony, I saw that tour, and I'm certain they were pulling a Milli Vanilli. Absolutely awful show.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Paulina was sort of the "Elian Gonzoles" of her day when her family fled to Sweden.
She wrote a kid's book 'Ralphie the Roach' supposedly inspired by Ric.
We met her at Saks when she got the Lauder contract.
Shy, demure, and kind of a space between her teeth but nobody's perfect

Clyde said...

This was my favorite Ric Ocasek song off his second solo album, This Side of Paradise.

Ric Ocasek - True To You

This particular song had Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes and Benjamin Orr on it as well -- all of his Cars bandmates except for drummer David Robinson.

Clyde said...

I agree with those who noted that the debut album was just about perfect. I owned all the Cars' CDs, as well as solo albums by Ocasek, Benjamin Orr and Elliot Easton. I played the hell out of that debut album, but I loved them all.

Clyde said...

I also really liked the final track on Candy-O, which was sung by Ocasek:

Dangerous Type - The Cars

On a well-crafted album, there's a flow to the music, and the last song lets you know that the album is over. This song is a perfect example.

chickelit said...

The Cars' career roughly spanned the golden years of MTV. Here's how I remember them (or not).

Jim at said...

The Cars' debut is the only 'album' in which I had on LP, 8-track, cassette and later, CD.

Only the LP and CD remain.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Easton was sadly underrated/under used --

the fault of Roy Thomas Baker? Ric and Ben? Also almost never highlighted in vids