Backstage Buzz

Jack Black gives an accurate critique of Elliot’s “Just What I Needed” solo.

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Lyrics: (Wearing Down) Like A Wheel

(Wearing Down) Like A Wheel (written by Elliot Easton and Jules Shear ©1984)

 

Oh what can be done about you? You look so at home in blue

It’s easy to see what we’re coming through

Now you say you want to be alone and you talk in a funny tone

But the humor escapes…

 

Oh I see us wearing down like wheel, do you think it’s time to stop?

And I can promise your friends don’t know how this feels

I don’t care, the way they talk

 

So believe the life that you hated with your wheel alleviated

Resigned that your life was so faded

How could you hold back from me? And how could you act to me?

And how many times…

 

Oh I see us wearing down like wheel, do you think it’s time to stop?

And I can promise your friends don’t know how this feels

I don’t care, the way they talk

 

Oh I see us wearing down like wheel, do you think it’s time to stop?

And I can promise your friends don’t know how this feels

I don’t care, the way they talk

 

How could you hold back from me? And how could you act to me?

And how many times…

 

Oh I see us wearing down like wheel, do you think it’s time to stop?

And I can promise your friends don’t know how this feels

I don’t care, the way they talk

She’s A Lot Like You

My husband’s brother, D, has always been my rock-and-roll buddy. We’ve talked music from as far back as I can remember, and he is one of only two members of my large extended family that will talk seriously with me about The Cars without looking at his watch. His all-time favorite song of theirs is “Dangerous Type,” the last track on the 1979 Candy-O album.

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Photo by Ebet Roberts

One might not consider the lyrics of The Cars to be ‘seductive’ in the traditional sense, but when my brother-in-law sings, “Inside angel, always upset. Keeps on forgetting that we ever met. Can I bring you out in the light? My curiosity’s got me tonight,” my sister-in-law blushes and giggles like a schoolgirl.

Such is the provocative power of The Cars!

(Of course, her response may have more to do with the fact that after all these years they are still madly in love, and just about anything he does makes her blush and giggle! haha)

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From Ric Ocasek’s book, Lyrics and Prose

Rock critics agree that “Dangerous Type” is one of the true highlights from Candy-O. Written by Ric Ocasek and produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it was never released as a single but it received a lot of radio play and easily became a fan favorite. This is also one of those songs where, if you really tried to pull a specific message out of Ric’s lyrics, you would likely be left scratching your head. That doesn’t stop any of us from singing along, though, does it? I’m sure each of us has some sort of connection we make with it, which is exactly what Ric wants.

There’s no denying that this song has panache. With every individual element, the guys get in there, throw their punches and then get out. You feel it from the first beats of David’s kick drum, and all through those excellent fills. Greg’s skillfully crafted synth sounds couldn’t be more perfect; I would love to lie across his keyboards and have him play those notes along my spine.  Ric’s vocal treatment is flawless, and adds just the right attitude to his cryptic lyrics. Benjamin’s got that pulsing bass line moving things along, and Elliot’s guitar work is no-nonsense and effective…. on out the door, the band entirely locked into that addictive outro.

Take a minute — well, 17 seconds, actually — to appreciate that guitar solo. It emerges from the chorus so subtly: edgy, powerful, and perfectly symbiotic with the keyboards in the background. When he’s made his voice heard Elliot drops us into to the next verse with little fanfare. That transition — from the end of the guitar solo to Greg’s kick-ass synth while Ric sings, “Museum directors with high shaking heads, they kick white shadows until they play dead…” — that is my absolute favorite part. I eagerly anticipate it every time I crank this song.

For our listening pleasure, there is an alternate studio version out there. It surfaced when the Candy-O monitor mix tapes were recovered. It’s pretty similar to the final track, with the most obvious exceptions being the missing guitar solo and a few minor lyric changes. I’m really looking forward to the Northern Studios recording that is slated to come out as a bonus track on the newly expanded Candy-O release, dropping on July 28, 2017 (just around the corner — yippee!). I’m always thrilled to hear something new.

This song has been covered numerous times. The most notable is this terrific version by Letters to Cleo, which was featured in the 1996 movie, The Craft, and included Greg Hawkes sitting in on the synthesizer. Greg also joins the band in their music video! I love love love this rendition! Take a peek here:

It was also covered by Johnny Monaco on the 2005 Substitution Mass Confusion tribute compilation. I haven’t heard that version yet; still trying to pick up that CD on the cheap. I’ve read that it’s well done. Another tribute album, Just What We Needed, came out in 2010 and includes a version by Graveyard School, but I can’t find that CD — cheap or otherwise — anywhere.

And now are you ready for a totally different take on this song? Check out this lush cover by Susan Hyatt, including some gorgeous trumpet playing by Zack Leffew… it’s a little startling, but I like it. From her 2016 album, Pin-ups and Trumpets.

A youtube friend let me know that “Dangerous Type” was also part of a movie soundtrack (though it does not show up on the official soundtrack album). The song plays for over 3 minutes during this transitional scene in the 1980 film, Times Square. Now I confess, I didn’t watch this movie; I generally like films about teenage angst but this one just didn’t appeal to me at all, though I understand that it is somewhat of a cult classic.

A bonus tidbit: on MTV’s first day of broadcasting (August 1, 1981), the 124th video they aired was “Dangerous Type.” I’m pretty sure it was this performance from The Midnight Special (I chose a higher quality of the footage rather than the one with the VH1 logo):

There are several live performances out there to listen to, but we’ll play out the article with this gem: the audio from The Cars’ set at the 1982 US Festival. Their energy is off the charts, Ric adds great flourishes to the lyrics, and Elliot shakes things up with his gritty guitar playing. Enjoy!

 

Lyrics: Dangerous Type

Dangerous Type by The Cars (written by Ric Ocasek, ©1979)

Can I touch you, are you out of touch

I guess I never noticed that much

Geranium lover, I’m live on your wire

Oo come and take me whoever you are

 

She’s a lot like you, the dangerous type

She’s a lot like you, come on and hold me tight

 

Oh inside angel, always upset

Keeps on forgetting that we ever met

Can I bring you out in the light

My curiosity’s got me tonight

 

She’s a lot like you, the dangerous type

She’s a lot like you, come on and hold me tight

 

Museum directors with high shaking heads

They kick white shadows until they play dead

They want to crack your crossword smile

Oo can I take you out for a while, yeah

 

She’s a lot like you, the dangerous type

She’s a lot like you, come on and hold me tight

 

She’s a lot like you, the dangerous type

She’s a lot like you, come on and hold me tight

 

Tonight

She’s a lot like you, the dangerous type

She’s a lot like you, come on hold me tight

Sharing the Stage: Rick Springfield

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Ruben Velasco & Rick Springfield 2014

The rock-and-roll industry might be cut-throat in some respects, but it is also a world of great love and loyalty. Few things demonstrate that as beautifully as this benefit concert Rick Springfield organized to support his long-time friend and guitar technician, Ruben Velasco.

[I better jump in here and tell you that I assume *everyone* knows who Rick Springfield is. If you think you don’t, look up his “Jessie’s Girl” video on youtube and you will likely find yourself going, “Oh yeah… I remember that song…” If that doesn’t trigger it for you, well… then you were probably born after 1990 and there’s no hope in getting you up to speed. Hahaha. Seriously though, how to summarize? Rick is a talented Australian singer, writer and instrumentalist who starred in soap operas and made some award-winning, catchy music in the 80s, and he is still rocking hard today. He’s very cool!]

r4r.jpgIn 2014, Ruben (Rick’s guitar tech) was diagnosed with stage four cancer, a devastating diagnosis for anyone, made even more tragic by the fact that he was only 39 years old. Rick responded right away by putting together an all-star group of musicians and special guests to rock the House of Blues on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, on August 20, 2014. The lineup included Kenny Aronoff, Bruce Kulick, Gilby Clarke, James Lomenzo, John 5, and Elliot Easton.

The goal was to raise money to help Ruben fight this disease. In addition to ticket sales for the event, donations came in through an auction, in which fans could bid for guitars signed by artists like Kiss, Weezer and Sammy Hagar, and an autographed pair of Rick’s Converse shoes. There is a lot of great info about the show and the auction, including a detailed review of the concert itself, here at screamermagazine.com, if you’d like to know more.

eerockforruben.jpgElliot took the stage with Rick for two songs. They played The Cars’ classic, “Good Times Roll” and did a cover of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out.” I’ve added the links at the end of the article. Both performances are terrific, and a blast to watch.

(As a side note, a quick search of youtube (rock for ruben rocket ride) will pull up a fun cover of Kiss’s “Rocket Ride” — Ruben’s favorite song.)

The photo below is of Elliot with the members of Rick’s band, taken on August 19, 2014, during rehearsals for the concert. Ruben is second from the left (retrieved from Rick Springfield’s facebook page).10518707_10152682513501812_3449425247068630057_n.jpg

All of the proceeds from the August 20, 2014, concert went to Ruben’s medical bills. Sadly, Ruben passed away on May 31, 2016, but Rick continued to raise money for Ruben’s favorite charity, the Fur & Feather Animal Sanctuary. The more I discovered about Rick’s efforts, the more my heart filled with respect and happiness. Check this out:

Rick toured in the summer of 2016 and offered a unique opportunity for fans to honor Ruben’s legacy: In each of 28 stops on the tour, a fan could purchase the privilege of joining the crew in Ruben’s stead as an ‘honorary guitar tech.’ This meant that each lucky duck would get to attend the pre-show soundcheck, hang out on the stage and hand Rick his guitars during the show… and personally receive an autographed guitar from Rick himself. A once in a lifetime experience, for sure!

This second fundraiser was also a great success, resulting in over $35,000 (after expenses) being donated to the Sanctuary.  Read this article from Rick’s website to find out how the animal shelter used the money.

I was already a big fan of Rick’s before I heard about this story; what a delight to get a peek into his character and his devotion to his friends. Rick continues to tour, playing both full band and acoustic shows. His official website has all the info you need to track him down and catch one of his amazing shows.

Timeline perspective: this concert took place about two weeks after the release of The Empty Hearts’ first album.