Music Throwback Saturday: Cars by Gary Numan

The didgeridoo was featured on the very first season of the “reality show” Survivor, which took place in the Australian outback.

Cars.GaryNumanAnother one of those records I bought only as a single – we’re talking the 45 RPM record – was Cars by Gary Numan.

The song was a single from an album called The Pleasure Principle. “It reached the top of the charts in several countries, and today is considered a new wave staple.” It was #1 in the UK in 1979 and in Canada in 1980. It spent 17 weeks on the US charts, getting to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980, his only big hit song in this country.

“Musically, the new song was somewhat lighter and more pop-oriented than its predecessors.” Numan later conceding that he had chart success in mind: “This was the first time I had written a song with the intention of ‘maybe it could be a hit single.'”

I’ve tried to ascertain WHY it was instantly infectious. My working theory is that the very first sound one hears is reminiscent of a didgeridoo.

You know the didgeridoo, that wind instrument developed by indigenous people of northern Australia “within the last 1,500 years and still in widespread use today both in Australia and around the world. It is sometimes described as a natural wooden trumpet or “drone pipe'”.

The didgeridoo was featured on the very first season of the “reality show” Survivor, which took place in the Australian outback. My ABC Wednesday buddy Reader Wil wrote a post on the instrument, which explained, via a couple of videos, how one plays the instrument.

I’ve discovered that when I tried to replicate the sound of the instrument, humming with my mouth open while quickly covering and uncovering my mouth, I could approximate the sound of the first notes of Numan’s Cars.

READ/LISTEN TO:
ABC Wednesday, D for Didgeridoo.

LISTEN TO:
Survivor: The Australian Outback OST – Track 01 – Didgeridoo.

Cars by Gary Numan: HERE or HERE or extended play HERE.

Cars by Fear Factory, featuring Gary Numan (1998).

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

3 thoughts on “Music Throwback Saturday: Cars by Gary Numan”

  1. Thank you for mentioning the digeridoo, which I learned to love because it is so unique and mysterious.
    Reader Wil

  2. I was never a fan of this particular single. For me it drones on and on, so perhaps appropriate that you liken it to the didgeridoo, an instrument I taught myself to “play” when I was a youngster using a metal tube, rather than a wooden one. Not sure I could do it now!

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