Ric Ocasek, lead singer and guitar player for the band “The Cars“, passed away the other day, at the age of 75. He was much older than most of us had thought he was.
The Cars were my favorite band when I was in high school. Their lyrics were complex, but were usually buried in a “new wave” tune that overpowered the words that they were trying to get out. I’m not a fan of punk rock or other new wave styles, but I enjoyed their music as well as some of the lyrics that seemed to hit home in my own personal values.
Ric was a slender, lanky build, with an oddly shaped face; one that seemed to fit in with the type of music that they played. “New Wave” music was “edgy”, “odd”, “weird” and “quirky” for it’s time, and so was Ric.
When Ric married supermodel Paulina Porizkova, he gave hope to many geeky males that maybe they could land a beautiful woman too.
In high school, I had a major crush on a girl that was one year younger than me. She was slender, blonde, pretty, and a cheer leader; all traits that a socially inept, geeky guy (like myself) might find difficult to interact with. I tried my best to befriend her, but in the end, she turned me down flat and sealed it with the phrase no guy can recover from: “We can still be friends“. I had been shot down, much like an airplane nose-diving into the ground. I was heart broken and thought the love of my life had slipped away without even getting a fair start. At the end of the year, I was able to secretly sign her yearbook with a line from The Cars song “Up and Down”:
Under the cold and darkly sky
You’re the only light I’ve seen
One of their album covers, “Candy-O” featured artwork of a semi-nude woman on the hood of a car. There was a guy in school that airbrushed this picture onto the trunk of his car.
Another album cover, Heartbeat City, is a favorite within the Mopar community simply because of the 1971 Plymouth Duster with the rare “340 Wedge” hood graphic that was featured.
When the band broke up in 1988, I grieved knowing that I would never see my favorite band performing live, even though I knew the geek in me would ever allow me to attend.
Through the years I have continued to enjoy The Cars music, mostly because it exemplifies “The ’80s”, both in sound and (for me) memories of a simpler time.
Ric and Paulina had separated in May 2017 and I believe this was the real reason why Ric passed away. The love of his life, for 28 years, was gone; and for him, this meant the end of one of his biggest inspirations in life. The coroner labeled his death as “natural causes; both hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases”, but call it what you want, he died of a broken heart.