Quoting Benjamin

“I’ve changed instruments according to how much I’ve wanted to keep playing. Some bands in town didn’t need a drummer so I started playing rhythm and some didn’t need a rhythm so I started playing bass. Some didn’t need any of those so I started playing with keyboards, which I’m not very good at, but I fake it.” — Up Close interview, August 1987

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My Best Friend’s Girl

In general, I am not a big fan of Ric Ocasek’s voice, and so a bunch of the songs he sings are on my “I could skip this one” list. “My Best Friend’s Girl” was in that group for awhile… until I started tuning in to what Benjamin was doing during the song (which then made it irresistible to me). His melodic bass line during the verses is very addictive, and my ears tend to park there for the duration. And when they get to the bridge I can’t help but sing along with the guys, “Here she comes again.” I had to notice, of course, the progression of the number of times they sang that line… twice in the first bridge, three times in the second bridge, and four times for the final bridge. Yes, I am a nerd.

For our viewing pleasure, there are many great choices for MyBFG. One video, which I believe was shot at Elektra’s release party for the Cars’ debut album, features Elliot getting kisses (from his sisters, I am told) on the way to the stage, Ric chewing gum, Greg with his mustache, and Benjamin primping adorably. The footage from Musikladen includes, among other delights, a delicious shoulder shimmy from Ben, as well as an awkward twirl and an, “I’m thanking you all” at the end. Love it!

I kind of have a tie for my top choice, so I’m going to post both of them (in chronological order – ha!).

High up on the list for my favorite clip is the one from Rock Goes to College, filmed in England in 1978. You can really hear Benjamin’s bass, and I love it. His charisma is over the top, rocking that Vox in his red pants, and that face he makes at 1:25 just melts me. And did Benjamin actually pull his pick out from inside of his mouth??? I think I could make a convincing case that he did. From about 3:00 on it’s kind of a Benj fest, with plenty of opportunity to gaze at his beautiful face and watch his hands create that hunky sound. [It’s also during this last minute of the performance where one could be fooled into thinking that Ric is, in fact, blind.]

The second contender is also a live performance, this one from 1979, that is so fun to watch because every single member is on his game. Benjamin’s playing my favorite bass (the StingRay), he gives a heart-stopping smile at 1:39, and turns on the duck face/blink combo at 1:45. Gorgeous! Elliot rips a great solo from 1:54; Ric is chewing gum like nobody’s business, and he actually bites his own lip at 1:14 to emphasize the lyric line. (I love it, too, because Ric’s treatment of the final verse is more sing-songy than in the studio version, which makes my ears happy.) There’s a cool reflection in Greg’s glasses, and we almost see David’s face — such a tease! Tight performance, as always!