Gary Numan’s Fascination: Cars

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than three decades since the release of Gary Numan‘s The Pleasure Principle, the electronic-pop masterpiece that spawned massive hit single “Cars,” one of the defining tracks of the new-wave era. (The song has since been covered and sampled numerous times and been used in countless commercials, movies, TV shows, video games, etc.) To celebrate the highly influential album making in into the Billboard top 20 in 1980 and the recent multi-disc, 30th-anniversary reissue, Numan just kicked off a three-week U.S. tour that features him playing The Pleasure Principle in its entirety, along with songs from his entire career as well as tracks from forthcoming album Splinter. Numan will also be guest editing all week. Read our Q&A with him.

Numan: A long, long time ago I wrote a song called “Cars.” Not because I am obsessed by cars, because I’m not, but because I am frightened of people. I was once driving through the streets of London when I found myself stuck in traffic. This is a very common thing in London. Not quite so common was when the two men in the car in front got out and started attacking my car. I gathered from the shouts and grunts coming from the two neanderthals in question that I had somehow offended them with my daring and spectacular driving prowess. I’d cut them up, I think; I can’t be sure. Anyway, not being too much of a fighting man, I locked all my doors and sat there looking for a way out of the situation. Then I saw my chance. Reversing slightly to give myself manoeuvring room, I managed to drive up onto the pavement and, scattering pedestrians as I progressed, I drove along the pavement for some considerable distance until I came to a junction, where I was able to make a more thorough getaway, back onto the road once again. The men chased me for a while, on foot, which I instantly recognised as a huge mistake on their part.

This incident added to my unease around people and so I began to think increasingly of the car as a tank for the civilian. Inside my car I am safe from the thuggery and violence of the world. It can protect me from a great many things and take me away from danger, to a place of safety. It’s why, perhaps, I have an affection for my motor vehicles that is a bit deeper than some. I remember on numerous occasions walking back to my car after a night out, sometimes in less savoury parts of our capitol, and seeing my car parked in the distance. Shining like a beacon in the night, calling me to safety. Hearing the door close and the locks click into place and knowing that I had run the gauntlet and survived once again. Most other people just walk back to their cars, get in and drive home, but not me. I’m at war, every shadow hides a threat, every alleyway a potential ambush. By the time I slide into the leather seat I’m a nervous wreck with battle fatigue and a severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Or a very overactive imagination with just a hint of persecution complex. You decide.

Video after the jump.

One reply on “Gary Numan’s Fascination: Cars”

I met Gary at Macus Studios when my life Partner who has sadly passed away worked with Gary on the Replicas and Pleasure Principle albums. I was impressed with his honesty then and now, it is unusual to say the least that level of honesty exists in the Music Industry as mostly it smoke & Mirrors and tons of bullshit.
I really liked his music then and still do now and I know Rikki did then but there was a lot of shit heads stirring things in the background and they collaborative working environment suffered deeply because of this, which is a shame as Rikki had a deep respect and admiration for Gary. It effected his career badly after working with Gary as he gave up a recording deal to work with him and got shafted in the process, so not a good experience all round for him. He never forgot the good times he had and liked Gary’s music but could not bring himself to listen to Replicas or Pleasure Principle and I had to play them when he was in the studio or out with his mates LOL.
I still go to Gary’s concert and loved seeing his Mum at the Gigs too as she was everyone Mum it seemed, I loved that. I will get the new DVD of the P.P Tour as worn out the betamax version we got from Palace Videos.
I am glad he now gets the respect he should have got years ago as he is an innovator and instigator of musical change and is, love him to bits, over modest at his contribution to synth music in general as is John Foxx another hero of mine. I wish all the success on this American tour as he really deserves it with all the shit thrown his way.

Rowen Yeme

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