May 1978: The Cars Debut with JUST WHAT I NEEDED
On May 29, 1978, a hot new band out of Boston released their very first single. That band was the Cars, and the song was "Just What I Needed." In one fell swoop, Ric Ocasek, Benjamin Orr and company rewrote the rock and roll songbook. Bringing together classic hooks, new wave sensibilities and pristine production tailor-made for maximum impact on the radio, "Just What I Needed" is the perfect representation of everything that made the Cars great.
The Cars' keyboardist Greg Hawkes recalled the moment he was first presented with Ocasek's demo of the tune during a 2000 interview: "I remember hearing 'Just What I Needed,' thinking ... 'Wow, that's pretty cool. It's got something sort of unique about it, its, like, nice and concise and ... fairly short pop song format' ... so I still remember hearing that for the first time."
The song made a respectable run on the charts, peaking at #27 on the Hot 100 for the week of September 16, 1978. The #1 song in America that week: A Taste of Honey's "Boogie-Oogie-Oogie."
It was on radio where the tune really took hold, with "Just What I Needed" blowing up on pop and rock stations across the country. The sparkling song set the stage for the arrival of the band's self-titled debut album in June 1978. "Just What I Needed" played a large part of America's summer '78 soundtrack, and it still stands as a classic rock radio favorite today.