Day 164: A song that features your favorite guitar solo.

“Touch And Go” – The Cars

The Cars - Touch And GoSo, apparently “Touch And Go” was released 35 years ago today.

So I guess that’s as good a reason as any to get off my butt and finally post this entry. Because, y’know, it’s only been 4 months since the last one. But who’s counting?

Normally I would see “35 years” and freak out because I had been alive for a while when this was released, and dammit, 35 years is freakin’ long time.

But I don’t feel it so much on this one, because I don’t actually remember this song as a single. When it was released, I guess I wasn’t paying attention. (Neither was anyone else, apparently, since it only got to #37 on the charts.)

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So, yes, I got a late introduction to the song, hearing it for the first time on one of my brother’s mix tapes sometime around 1983 or ’84.  And I didn’t pay close attention until later in 1984. That was after I’d exhausted Heartbeat City, was well into my fixation with The Cars and knew everything from Candy-O and Shake It Up. I wanted even more of The Cars. So I asked my brother about Panorama (the album that “Touch And Go” appears on), which was the last holdout (at the time).

He warned me: “It’s a little different.”

“How different?” I asked.

His response was to play me the title track, which opens the album. It was a little weird; not what I was used to. “Yeah, that’s different alright,” I said. (This seems so laughably naïve now, given some of the other things I’ve grown to love over the years.) But I decided to give it a try anyway. I’m glad I did, because, even though it was not well-received on the whole, it’s a great album. It was The Cars being more experimental and trying to shed their image of straight-ahead popsters. And I think it worked.

But on to “Touch And Go.”

Like I said, “Touch And Go”‘s solo is clean. It’s compact, and tuneful. It doesn’t leave you wondering when it’s going to end. It’s a great little solo. And it’s a lot of fun to play air guitar to; I’ve done it for years. For a long time, I thought I did a pretty good job of it, and so once when I was in college I did a little performance for some buddies. At the end I was pretty pleased with myself. The response? “You have no idea how to play guitar, do you?”


(I did buy a guitar shortly after and learned a little bit, but I never got much past barely passable rhythm guitar. I’m no lead.)

The other nice thing about “Touch And Go” is that you get a bonus solo. There’s the main solo, and then, shortly before the end of the song, there are a few more bars  or solo that are different from the main solo. It’s a nice 2-for-1. How can you not like that? That gives it bonus points.

I know there are more fashionable answers to the question of favorite solo. I know I’m supposed to say something from Van Halen, or Led Zeppelin, or Guns N’ Roses, and I thought hard before going with this song because I know someone will take me to task. But honestly I’ll take an Elliot Easton solo any day. He’s creative, polished, and doesn’t wank. He gets in and gets out, clean. And I like that. So nyah.

And finally, it seems that Elliot Easton ranks this as the favorite of his solos. I feel like that’s good company…