Flashback To The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl”

Flashback To The Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl”

Posted 11 Nov 2019
the cars 1978
The Cars at Boston's City Hall Plaza July 7, 1978. Photo by Ron Pownall/Getty Images.

“My Best Friend’s Girl” was one of The Cars’ earliest hit songs. The ode to stolen love helped propel the new-wave band to international stardom when it was first released on their self-titled debut album on this day in 1978. Written by Cars frontman, Ric Ocasek, “My Best Friend’s Girl” followed on from the band's smash-hit debut, “Just What I Needed” and was the first picture-disc single to ever be made commercially available. The song peaked at No.3 hit on the UK charts and top 40 in the US.

The Cars | “My Best Friend's Girl” [Official Live Video]

In a 2018 interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ric Ocasek recalled writing the hit single: "Shortly after David joined us, I was down in my basement writing songs. One of them was “My Best Friend’s Girl.” Nothing in that song happened to me personally. I just figured having a girlfriend stolen was probably something that happened to a lot of people.

I wrote the words and music at the same time: ‘You’re always dancing down the street / with your suede blue eyes / And every new boy that you meet / he doesn’t know the real surprise.’ The ‘suede blue eyes’ line was a play on Carl Perkins’s “Blue Suede Shoes.” When I wrote, ‘You’ve got your nuclear boots / and your drip-dry glove,’ I envisioned the boots and gloves as a cool ’50s fashion statement.

As for the last lines…'And when you bite your lip / it’s some reaction to love’…they were an emotional gesture. I was reading a lot of poets then. At some point, I realized my lyrics didn’t include the words “My Best Friend’s Girl.” So I pulled out the lyrics someone had typed up and added a chorus in the margin in pen: ‘She’s my best friend’s girl / she’s my best friend’s girl / but she used to be mine.’

I liked the twist. Up until that point, you think the singer stole his best friend’s girl based on how good he feels about her: ‘When she’s dancing ’neath the starry sky / she’ll make you flip.’ With the last line of the chorus, ‘But she used to be mine,’ you realize the guy didn’t steal his best friend’s girl…his friend stole her away from him.”

The song first appeared in 1977 on Boston radio stations WCOZ and WBCN from a demo tape, along with "Just What I Needed". DJ Maxanne Sartori, who was given the tapes recalled: “I began playing the demos of “Just What I Needed” and “My Best Friend's Girl” in March during my weekday slot, from 2 to 6 p.m. Calls poured in with positive comments.” Shortly thereafter, it became one of the stations' most requested songs.

Ric Ocasek was the King of Cool – a new wave pioneer and pop culture icon, who's sad passing a few short months ago is still felt by fans and peers alike. Celebrate the legacy of a synth-pop genius with This Is The Cars on Spotify:

Listen to The Cars Essentials on Apple Music: 

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