Deep Dive: The Cars, DOOR TO DOOR
Today we celebrate the birthday of Cars frontman Ric Ocasek, and since we’re doing so for the first time without him here to celebrate it with us, it’s understandable that the mood isn’t as cheery as it might otherwise be. That said, the show must go on, as must the celebration, so we’re commemorating the occasion by looking back at an album which – not long after its release – looked like it was destined to be the last ever LP by The Cars.
Co-produced by Ocasek and fellow bandmate Greg Hawkes (although you wouldn’t know it from the album itself, since – for whatever reason – Hawkes’ co-production credit only appears on the songs when they appear on compilations), DOOR TO DOOR was designed to provide The Cars with an opportunity to get back to basics, a scenario which led the band to revisit a song from the earliest days of their career – “Ta Ta Wayo Wayo” – and record it for the album. The LP also found drummer David Robinson performing his drums in the studio in lieu of a steady stream of samples and sequencing on the percussion front.
The album delivered three singles unto radio listeners, including “You Are the Girl,” “Strap Me In,” and “Coming Up You,” and it must be said that all them did hit the Billboard Hot 100, but only the first of the three managed to hit the top 20, climbing to #17. On the other hand, the song hit #2 on the Rock chart, and “Strap Me In” hit #4, so DOOR TO DOOR definitely got plenty of airplay.
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Unfortunately, that airplay still wasn’t enough to keep The Cars from breaking up: six months after its release, they called it quits. That was in February 1988, and the band’s dissolution stayed in place all the way up through the death of founding member Benjamin Orr in 2000. In 2005, however, Hawkes and Eliot Easton joined forces with Todd Rundgren, Prairie Prince, and Kasim Sulton to form The New Cars, a vehicle which lasted long enough to issue a live album with a trio of new studio tracks tacked onto the end, but the surviving Cars finally reunited properly in 2010, releasing a new studio album in 2011, doing some live shows, and then got inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.
None of it, of course, makes up for Ocasek’s absence now. But listening to DOOR TO DOOR in 2020, it’s nice to remember it as something other than The Cars’ swan song.
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