She’s A Lot Like You…

My husband’s brother, D, has always been my rock-and-roll buddy. We’ve talked music from as far back as I can remember, and he is one of only two members of my large extended family that will talk seriously with me about The Cars without looking at his watch. His all-time favorite song of theirs is “Dangerous Type,” the last track on the 1979 Candy-O album.

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Photo by Ebet Roberts

One might not consider the lyrics of The Cars to be ‘seductive’ in the traditional sense, but when my brother-in-law sings, “Inside angel, always upset. Keeps on forgetting that we ever met. Can I bring you out in the light? My curiosity’s got me tonight,” my sister-in-law blushes and giggles like a schoolgirl.

Such is the provocative power of The Cars!

(Of course, her response may have more to do with the fact that after all these years they are still madly in love, and just about anything he does makes her blush and giggle! haha)

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From Ric Ocasek’s book, Lyrics and Prose

Rock critics agree that “Dangerous Type” is one of the true highlights from Candy-O. Written by Ric Ocasek and produced by Roy Thomas Baker, it was never released as a single but it received a lot of radio play and easily became a fan favorite. This is also one of those songs where, if you really tried to pull a specific message out of Ric’s lyrics, you would likely be left scratching your head. That doesn’t stop any of us from singing along, though, does it? I’m sure each of us has some sort of connection we make with it, which is exactly what Ric wants.

There’s no denying that this song has panache. With every individual element, the guys get in there, throw their punches and then get out. You feel it from the first beats of David’s kick drum, and all through those excellent fills. Greg’s skillfully crafted synth sounds couldn’t be more perfect; I would love to lie across his keyboards and have him play those notes along my spine.  Ric’s vocal treatment is flawless, and adds just the right attitude to his cryptic lyrics. Benjamin’s got that pulsing bass line moving things along, and Elliot’s guitar work is no-nonsense and effective…. on out the door, the band entirely locked into that addictive outro.

Take a minute — well, 17 seconds, actually — to appreciate that guitar solo. It emerges from the chorus so subtly: edgy, powerful, and perfectly symbiotic with the keyboards in the background. When he’s made his voice heard Elliot drops us into to the next verse with little fanfare. That transition — from the end of the guitar solo to Greg’s kick-ass synth while Ric sings, “Museum directors with high shaking heads, they kick white shadows until they play dead…” — that is my absolute favorite part. I eagerly anticipate it every time I crank this song.

For our listening pleasure, there is an alternate studio version out there. It surfaced when the Candy-O monitor mix tapes were recovered. It’s pretty similar to the final track, with the most obvious exceptions being the missing guitar solo and a few minor lyric changes. I’m really looking forward to the Northern Studios recording that is slated to come out as a bonus track on the newly expanded Candy-O release, dropping on July 28, 2017 (just around the corner — yippee!). I’m always thrilled to hear something new.

This song has been covered numerous times. The most notable is this terrific version by Letters to Cleo, which was featured in the 1996 movie, The Craft, and included Greg Hawkes sitting in on the synthesizer. Greg also joins the band in their music video! I love love love this rendition! Take a peek here:

It was also covered by Johnny Monaco on the 2005 Substitution Mass Confusion tribute compilation. I haven’t heard that version yet; still trying to pick up that CD on the cheap. I’ve read that it’s well done. Another tribute album, Just What We Needed, came out in 2010 and includes a version by Graveyard School, but I can’t find that CD — cheap or otherwise — anywhere.

And now are you ready for a totally different take on this song? Check out this lush cover by Susan Hyatt, including some gorgeous trumpet playing by Zack Leffew… it’s a little startling, but I like it. From her 2016 album, Pin-ups and Trumpets.

A youtube friend let me know that “Dangerous Type” was also part of a movie soundtrack (though it does not show up on the official soundtrack album). The song plays for over 3 minutes during this transitional scene in the 1980 film, Times Square. Now I confess, I didn’t watch this movie; I generally like films about teenage angst but this one just didn’t appeal to me at all, though I understand that it is somewhat of a cult classic.

A bonus tidbit: on MTV’s first day of broadcasting (August 1, 1981), the 124th video they aired was “Dangerous Type.” I’m pretty sure it was this performance from The Midnight Special (I chose a higher quality of the footage rather than the one with the VH1 logo):

There are several live performances out there to listen to, but we’ll play out the article with this gem: the audio from The Cars’ set at the 1982 US Festival. Their energy is off the charts, Ric adds great flourishes to the lyrics, and Elliot shakes things up with his gritty guitar playing. Enjoy!

 

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12 thoughts on “She’s A Lot Like You…

    1. Glad you liked it, M! Yes, the new expanded editions of both Candy-O and Panorama will be released on July 28th. You can pre-order through Amazon if you want. I can hardly wait! I’m getting the CDs through Amazon but my vinyl from the local record store. 😉

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  1. As always SPJ this is well researched and puts a creative and in depth spin on your feelings about the song. Made me think. Well done!

    Definitely one of my favorite Cars songs.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Count me in as another Benjamin Orr obsessed fan. As of only a week! I can’t stop thinking about him after randomly finding the Midnight Special video of You’re Just What I Needed. And then I came across your comment about your blog on the Bye Bye Love video from RGTC…and so it goes. I feel like I’m losing my mind and can’t stop watching live footage of him and The Cars.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, welcome to our world, Carla! So glad you found us — and Benjamin! That Midnight Special video has been the hook for many of us. Check out the first episode of our podcast to hear my very similar tale. Benjamin definitely has that ‘something’ about him that buries itself deep in the minds and hearts of women. Be sure to find me on facebook and twitter, if you use those. I love to connect with other fans. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I know.
      That makes two of us, Carla.
      So very sad he’s gone.
      In my own little way, I am advocating for an enriched Benjamin Orr legacy with every heartfelt thing I write pertaining to him.
      I kind-of feel like he was to the Cars what Paul McCartney was to the Beatles.
      He was that special. Not to diminish Ringo, George and John or Greg, Elliot, Ric and David.
      There was that effervescence of purity coupled with an un-contrived sultry & sexy mystique that was Ben Orr. But he was so derned low-key and so free of excessive ego that millions rather than tens of millions of Cars fans really knew the extent of his imprint on The Cars of his many talents.
      ~p

      spj ~ you’ll find something new from me under Pam Davis for your post “She’s A Lot Like You” and it’ll probably make you think you’ve got a newbie. sorry for the confusion. I signed on fr another computer and it would not take my password for persephone 1776.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, I wrote something about the Promo for “Dangerous Type” on youtube, where Benjamin was looking sultry and had his natural darker hair. That video is pretty darned cool and had some fun ‘going off’ on a stale youtube thread. I know our Benj fans, Cars fans and “Dangerous Type” fan enjoy ruminating so here goes ~
    So, I have a few minutes here to add to comments nobody will see or care about but what the hell, it’s worth it. These guys are worth it! ~~~~~~~ Pretty remarkable on a few levels: Ric looks very handsome, sounds awesome and makes some endearing moves as he performs one of their most finely crafted songs. Check out the Philadelphia 1987 video for this song and listen to it in all its live, embellished glory. Here, they are representing an early signature ‘look’ David had creatively directed them on: edgy red and black color scheme. As we know David; also instrumental in album covers, logo design, etc. Greg shows his chops and is one of the most proficient, inventive, best ‘ivory ticklers’ in the business. EE is reining in the passion and energy usually evident in live performance and still looks bad-ass! Oh, to see them evolve during their 10 year career ascension: a real treat. Benjamin Orr? Holy effing hell! Could he be any more alluring? Any more provocative? Any sexier? Well yes, in the German Musikladen 1979 tapes and Rock Goes to College 1979 videos: Off the charts Stunningly attractive! So we address his visage; a one of a kind, other-worldly man of massive masculine beauty. Makes me want to cuss and gush accolades! he-he :32 oh my f-ing gawd! and 2:08 plus 4 more seconds of – praise the Lord and thank you Jesus for this gorgeous freak of nature!!! They just don’t make normal humans like that!! Those eyes. Those lips. The looks he makes. His poise and control. KILLING ME!!!!! A photographer’s dream, be they male or female. The camera loved him and he, whether consciously or unconsciously, slayed all with a spell-binding beauty and stage style. What an enigma! Shy, yet loose and witty w/ inner circle. Known to be shy, yet emitting rock solid super-star confidence and mystique when on-stage or posing for photo-promos. He was what every model wishes, longs for and practices hard to be. Yet, years later, in a 1986 radio interview about his solo release of “The Lace”, a woman caller says to him; “Ben, I think you’re hot.” and he goes, “Thank you”, almost in modest, grateful surprise. The kicker comes in what he quietly says (under the babble of a DJ comment) , “You noticed”. You noticed, he says. Kindly drop a 550 lb anvil on the head of anyone who didn’t! You’d have to be either blind or lacking the discernment of recognizing beauty in any form to not notice Benjamin’s beauty and appeal. CRIMINY!!! Holy Mother of God, could he have been one of those beautiful humans who lacked a preening ego and failed to acknowledge or internalize, due to modesty or humility, that he’s drop dead gorgeous??? It IS possible. There are such people! What an enigma. I wish someone would put together a COMPREHENSIVE biography of Benjamin Orr. It would be incomplete if written w/o delving into Ben’s stunning looks and how he perceived his effect and how or if he interacted with women. Did they fall all over themselves to gain notice? Was he a dog, chasing tail at whoever caught his eye, whenever or every chance he had, as I hear commented time and again by men musing over the hordes of women throwing themselves at his feet? Or did he only engage in the occasional release found w/ a cute girl on the road and mainly keep to himself and his group the bulk of other time? It bears mentioning that sexy gorgeous women are not given to rolling in the hay with every man desiring to get with her. Just as many gorgeous men are not buggering every single or every other woman batting eyelashes at him! No mention is made above re: Benjamin’s voice. It was pitch perfect, dimensional, and exceptional made extra great by his very cool, unique enunciation. One could go on and on and trust me, I have. 🙂 Benjamin Orr is what catapulted The Cars onto the world stage due to what he brought to the table. I see him repeatedly praised by fans. However, he remains essentially unexplored, on the level deserved within the music world in which he made his indelible mark.
    L….moodylicious (youtube); aka persephone1776 (wordpress); aka PamDavisMD @twitter

    Liked by 1 person

  4. PS
    The radio interview was titled~
    “Benjamin Orr / Rockline Interview / 11-24-86”
    Correction – he said “Thanks!….you noticed” when gal said, “I think you’re HOT.”

    Liked by 1 person

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