I was never in a hurry to grow up when I was young.
Even though I was assigned a number of odd jobs around the house by my parents, I didn't have any desire to go out and find "a real job" when I was a teenager. I made several half-hearted efforts but was actually hoping that I'd be turned down every time.
My first job in which I was paid by someone other than my folks was as a newspaper carrier, i.e., paper boy. Except I was 15 at the time of landing that job.
It was the morning paper (we had "morning" and "afternoon" papers back then). And the first week on the job, I "trained" with the other teenager who was giving up the route. I'll always remember his name, Charlie Sweet.
He lived in a big house in a nice neighborhood (I would go on to land extra-large tips from the customers. It was indeed a "sweet" route). I would show up in front of his house at 5:30 in the morning and wait for him to come out so I could follow him around.
From the outside, the house seemed alluring and dangerous all at the same time. I trained for about a week and I think most of those days, there were blue, pink and red lights flashing behind the curtains in the main bay window. I heard music thumping and one time, two girls walked out of the door and down the street before Charlie came out with his newspaper bag of papers.
One of the days I stood out there was garbage day. The garbage outside Charlie's house smelled like pot. I spotted a few nudie magazines that I was tempted to take home but didn't. I also spied a couple of music cassettes, including one from The Cars, "Candy-O".
It was January 1981. I knew The Cars. I hadn't developed beyond what I heard on pop radio at the time, but I knew "Good Times Roll" (I heard it on a friend's K-Tel record) and I certainly knew the "Candy-O" album cover featuring a painting of a woman (actress Candy Moore) draped across the hood of a car by famed pin-up model artist Alberto Vargas. What 15-year-old boy didn't know that album cover?
But the cassette tape in the garbage lacked the case and the cassette cover. All that was left was the white plastic cassette. This was disappointing.
It didn't stop me from literally plucking it off the trash heap, stuffing it in my pocket, and beginning a long and meaningful relationship with The Cars.
A year-and-a-half later, I was still working the paper route, collecting cash one evening, when a car drove past with "Shake It Up" blaring from its speakers. The song was new at the time and it's the first thing I think of when I hear the song today.
In 1984, I was working at a department store. The Cars' Heartbeat City was all over MTV. I was infatuated with the woman who worked in the home entertainment section. I was 18, she was probably 23. She wore her long blond hair in braids, slathered her eyes in mascara, wore elf boots with everything and was as skinny as a 10-year-old boy.
She walked in a slinky, I don't give an F way. She loved rock and new wave. She really loved The Cars and that album. The Cars were never bigger than they were in '84 and I was never more of a devotee. Thanks to department store Teresa, I listened to Heartbeat City, Shake It Up, Panorama, Candy-O and their debut album constantly at that time.
The Cars were sleek, cool, almost icy, and their lyrics were simple, yet quirky and the group spoke to me in a way that few bands have. They were synthetic but guitar-driven. They were nerdy but got all the girls. To this day, The Cars are one of the 10 artistic groups who have most influenced me and shaped my musical tastes.
I nearly missed it when The Cars were inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame a couple of weekends ago. But I made sure to go back and watch the video of the induction and relive all of those feelings that began with Candy-O one winter morning before sun-up in 1981.
The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame honor was long overdue and so is this Match the Song Title segment.
So Let's Go.
Here's the track list.
Match the Song Title: "Candy-O" - The Cars
Track 1: Let's Go: Possibly my all-time favorite Cars song, and sung by Orr, not Ocasek. ("She's so beautiful now, she doesn't wear her shoes"). On the baseball front, you can't think of "Let's Go" without adding "Mets" on the end of it, I don't care what your rooting interest is. The "Let's Go Mets" chant can be equated with a variety of eras. I tend to think it belongs with the early '70s, particularly the "You Gotta Believe" Mets of 1973. They beat the Reds in a rollicking series before falling to the Oakland A's dynasty.
Track 2: Since I Held You: This makes me think of cards you can't touch -- graded cards. Oh, it's been so long since I've held you. Although in this case, I've never had the guts to bust out this card so I've never actually held it. It's one of less than 5 graded cards that I own.
Track 3: It's All I Can Do: The chorus for this song continues: "It's All I Can Do, To Keep Waiting For You". This should be the theme song for my COMC cart. It's loaded up with cards right now but I don't have the money to order them. One of the most anticipated cards of this current cart group is the Gerry Hart card you see here from 1975-76 Topps. This was the first year I bought any hockey cards. I had maybe a pack's worth of the set. It's a terrific design and I was entranced by the Gerry Hart card in my possession. I had forgotten all about it until someone showed a group of 75-76 Topps hockey cards on Twitter recently and Gerry was in the mix. "Holy heck, I need that card," I said to myself instantly.
Track 4: Double Life: Fantastic song. "You take your backseat rumble, take your front seat wife" -- all I think of is two-timing. Steve Garvey wasn't the first or last ballplayer to cheat on his wife, but they made the most noise in his case. Garvey's various dalliances came out a number of years after he and wife, Cyndy, had divorced in 1981 but that didn't stop the media.
There is Steve and Cyndy in younger, happier times.
Track 5: Shoo Be Doo: This is barely a song at 1:36 and a toughie for card association. But I do know saying "Shoo Be Doo Shin-Soo Choo" is a lot of fun.
Track 6: Candy-O: The title track is as hard-driving a traditional rock song that you'll find from The Cars, but they ain't no Foreigner. I thought I'd steer away from the expected -- ex-Dodger Candy Maldonado -- and go with one of those cards I pulled 47 times in 1989, Candy Sierra.
Track 7: Night Spots: This song addressed the silliness of the disco night life at the time. Here, Ryon Healy is about to be surprised in the middle of his night spot.
Track 8: You Can't Hold On Too Long: No doubt the song that plays on repeat in manager Dave Roberts' head all game long as he prepares to remove another starting pitcher, probably too damn soon.
Track 9: Lust For Kicks: I had planned to use a Juan Marichal card for this, but Marichal's kick seemed to have a purpose. I don't really know why Bronson Arroyo did that monster kick thing. Just a lust for kicks, maybe.
Track 10: Got A Lot On My Head: I keep trading away cards of players with gloves on their heads. Gene Clines. Aaron Rowand. This one. I've got to stop doing that.
Track 11: Dangerous Type: Another killer thrill ride. I immediately thought of the 1967 Topps combo cards, which often featured double-trouble slugger types. They do seem like the Dangerous Type.
And that's where the needle comes off the record.
I have to admit that after I brought that tape home the first couple of playings of Candy-O took some getting used to way back then. I had been raised on FM-pop and at that time it was Styx, Xanadu and Funkytown. But, now, there's nothing I'd rather do than pop in a cassette -- or flip on the digital device -- and think about Charlie Sweet, Teresa and the odd-looking boys from Boston.
Candy-O, I need you so.
Welcome to the Hall.