Educating Peter # 24

December 2, 2012

Michael’s suggestion this week is a song from 1986, and it’s something Michael thought I might be a little more comfortable with than some of the other songs he’s suggested in the past.

The song is “Emotion In Motion“, and it’s by Ric Ocasek, the most noticeable member of The Cars. As Michael guessed correctly (I never told him), I’m a fan of The Cars.

I must be completely honest here and say that I’m not an über fan. My enjoyment of The Cars extends only to the radio hits. I’ve heard them, love them, but never felt the need to delve deep into their discography.

When Michael suggested “Emotion In Motion” I had a little chuckle to myself, because I thought it slightly ironic that a performer as static and unemotional as Ric Ocasek (only Roy Orbison is less animated on stage) was singing a song about emotion.

Before we start, I’d like to say that as far as I know I haven’t heard “Emotion In Motion”. The only Cars solo work I know I’ve heard is by the band’s lead guitarist Elliot Easton, who is my favourite Cars member. Mr. Easton is an impeccable guitarist (nope, he can’t be pecced at all) who plays with great taste, and his solos are superbly constructed. (I was going to say his solos are little masterpieces, but that might be going a bit too far.)

It’s entirely possible that I have heard Ric’s “Emotion In Motion” at some point and then forgot about it. We shall see. Or hear.

OK. Enough preamble. We’ve got a song to listen to.

Ric Ocasek – “Emotion In Motion (1986)


0:00-0:04 (Intro) – When the little synthesizer toot-toot started the song, I thought “Oh-oh – I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well.”

0:04-0:09 (Intro continued) – And now a drum beat is accompanying the little tooting synthesizer. What’s remarkable about the drums here is that the sound tells you exactly when it was recorded: the mid-80’s. It’s a sound, like most sounds from the 80’s, that has dated dreadfully. I’m not looking forward to the rest of the song.

0:09-0:28 (Even more intro) – That’s a semi-nice guitar sound. It has that mid-80’s “chorus” sound that I usually love, but here it’s not chorussy enough for me. More chorus on the guitar please.

0:28-1:05 (Verse) – Hang on a minute. Ric’s started singing, and the first thing he sings is “I would do anything…”. The combination of that lyric and the melody Ric’s singing makes me think I’ve heard this song before. Or maybe I’m thinking of another song. Either way, it sure sounds familiar.

Anyway, Ric’s sing in the way he usually does (i.e., with little yelps), but I’m getting distracted by all the incidental percussive sounds. They’re annoying me. They sound like insects.

Now, if I want to listen to insects in music I’ll listen to American composer George Crumb’s Black Angels:

[Beware: Do not listen to this late at night with headphones on and the lights out.]

Man, that’s freaky.

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Trying to not think of insects whilst listening to “Emotion in Motion”. By the way, has anyone ever thought that Ric Ocasek resembles a praying mantis?

Grrr. I’m still listening to the verse, but all I’m noticing is those insects.

1:05-1:27 (Chorus) – This is the chorus, and it sounds even more familiar than the verse. I guess I have heard “Emotion In Motion” before. And I guess that my brain decided long ago that it’s a forgettable song. As I’m listening to the chorus I’m thinking to myself, “Gee that’s a wet chorus. And forgettable.” I’m noticing the sonic difference between the verse and chorus and thinking “Those extra synthesizers don’t help make the chorus better – they make it wetter”. That’s about the the only word I can think of to describe it. Wet. But at least it’s short.

1:27-2:04 (Verse) – More of the same. Literally. (There are more synthesizers in this verse than in the first verse.)

If things don’t improve soon I’m going to come to the early conclusion that this is one wet song.

2:05-2:27 (Chorus) – Now I’m paying attention to the lyrics, and I’m wishing I hadn’t. “You’re emotion in motion / Magical potion.”

Magical potion? Really?

2:27-2:46 (Middle eight) – Right on cue, with depressing predictability, is the middle eight. For me it’s a pretty useless section of moody moodless instrumental music that’s there purely because there has to be a middle eight after the second chorus. And I can still hear those insects. This is not fun.

2:46-3:24 (Verse) – Another verse, but this time with a regular drum beat instead of the barely-there drumming in the first two verses. Well, why not?

3:24-4:40 (Chorus) – The double chorus that ends the song. Apart from the double-length and the fade-out, I can’t tell the difference this chorus and the one before the middle eight. Maybe I’m not listening hard enough. Or maybe in the mid-80’s, with digital recording ensconced in most major studios, the people involved in the recording had software that simply copied and pasted the previous chorus. (Highly likely.) Or it is possible that the musicians sat there in the studio, playing every single note. (I doubt it.)

The song has just finished, and I’m very pleased because I don’t have to write about it anymore.

After listening to the song, deciding that it’s horrible, I honestly don’t know how to finish this post on a positive note.

Oh, I know:

Thanks, Michael, for suggesting “Emotion in Motion” this week. I’m looking forward to next week’s song because it won’t be that.