I’ve said it before (and I’m sure I’ll say it again!), that Benjamin is the perfect person to sing Ric’s lyrics. That man could belt out any string of nonsense and you’d be convinced that it was your life’s motto. I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be connecting with when I sing, “Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo; life’s the same, except for my shoes…” but if Benjamin believes it then so do I, and I warble along with intensity. (Yeah, I’m not a very good singer.)
Showing up as the 8th track on the 1978 debut album The Cars, ‘Moving In Stereo’ is right up there on my list of the most forceful and effective rock numbers the band ever recorded, and listening to it can be a surreal experience. I highly encourage headphones, and if you can manage it, find a dark place away from distractions. Better yet, head out for a late night or early morning run (before the sun comes up) with this playing in your ears (but be safe about it); it is a powerful experience.
The song starts out with that futuristic synth lead-in, carrying you off toward the heavens, and then the rhythm guitar snags your ankle and anchors you in the sky. You become cloaked in Benjamin’s beautiful voice, flowing from ear to ear, as Greg continues to beguile you with his gentle notes.
All of a sudden the drums, bass, and lead guitar jump in with a hard, pulsating beat that you cannot resist. All six elements are working together to encapsulate you… You are surrounded, invaded, immersed in this swirling twirl of dense, hypnotic sounds that seem to carry you higher and higher, and you feel like you could actually lose yourself forever in this musical continuum… until Benjamin’s incredible bass run hauls you back into the atmosphere and his seductive vocals attempt to soften your return to the ground.
Somehow it still comes as a shock, though, when the song ends and you find that, well, life’s the same… you were just moving in stereo.
As an aside, I have a feeling that the producer, Roy Thomas Baker, knew what a hard landing it could be at the end of this song, and that’s probably why he chose to have it blend perfectly into the beginning of track 9, ‘All Mixed Up’… a stunning ballad that warrants its own write-up at a later date.
Another noteworthy tidbit is that this song is one of only four for which Greg Hawkes received a writing credit (the others being “This Could Be Love,” “It’s Not the Night,” and “Go Away.”); all other songs written solely by Ric, of course.
And now, for your viewing pleasure… a 1978 performance of ‘Moving In Stereo’ that was included on the 2006 Unlocked DVD.
As you know, I can never get enough of Benjamin and he is over-the-top-hot in this video (the blonde hair and the black leather; the way he works that bass at 3:38 makes me crazy), but when Elliot takes center stage about half way through I get a little ga-ga. That teasing smile as he plays with Ric at 2:35 — delicious! Of course, the poor guy gets caught up in his cord there for a minute afterward, but it was worth it to see him up front. As they always do when playing live, the band locks into each other and delivers a terrific performance.