Gary Numan : Cars
On August 21, 1979 Gary Numan released "Cars", the biggest single of his career and one of the definitive songs of the New Wave era. Numan says the lyrics were inspired by a road rage incident:
I was in traffic in London once and had a problem with some people in front. They tried to beat me up and get me out of the car. I locked the doors and eventually drove up on the pavement and got away from them. It's kind of to do with that. It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world... When you're in it, your whole mentality is different... It's like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it.
Sounding like a singing dalek swept up in a wash of synthesizers and a catchy bass line, Numan drove "Cars" to #1 in the U.K and Canada and peaked at US#9 in 1980. His Pleasure Principle album also hit #1 in the UK and peaked at #16 in the US. His fans may have been thrilled but David Bowie was not so amused at what he thought was a copycat act. Bowie had Numan thrown off the set of a Kenny Everett's holiday Special.
"Before then I thought he was a god," Numan told the Independent. "I used to get into fights at school protecting his name. Then, all of a sudden, this bloke I'd adored for years was throwing me out of a building because he hated me so much. It really upset me at the time, especially when I thought of how many thumps I'd taken for him. I can only imagine he was going through an insecure patch. At the time I was outselling him about four to one."
Maybe next time, don't rip of "Warsawa" on the B side of your hit single?