Elliot Easton's Tiki Lounge

Just went back and listened to a bunch of Cars songs…


Wow. The Cars were always there in the 80s - you couldn't go to a club without hearing them, couldn't turn on the TV without hearing them, and couldn't even go to an Aussie pub without hearing some cover band murder them. They were kinda the soundtrack to my mis-spent youth. But I was never a big fan because my friends and I were into darker, moodier music at that time.

But recently I have been trying to remember those songs and struggling, so I have been on youtube listening a bunch. And my memory was false - I remembered the guitar playing as being economical, "new-wave" styled and clever but a bit too "pop" for my teenage sensibilities. Man was I wrong!

I have been blown away by what I have heard this week. I have been really picking out the guitar and not only are the sounds a lot better than I realised at the time, but the playing and the parts are so clever, so intricate and much cooler than I ever realised. Talk about playing for the song - but more.

So I feel a bit silly for being soooooo late to this party! Elliot must rate right up there with Johnny Marr as one of the great guitarists of taste and style in the 80s. So much cleverer and more tasteful than hair-metal!


A couple things always made me listen, one was Ben Orr's singing and Elliot's solos which were short and to the point. When you consider all the keyboard action there wasn't much room for mistakes.


That's funny, we were at band practice last night, and somehow "My Best Friend's Girlfriend" came up, and we started playing along....then we all realized what big Cars fans we all were. The Cars were a truly underrated, but great and important New Wave band.


The Cars were an early favorite of mine. The first band I was in (I didn't play guitar then), I sang lead on "Let's Go" and "Just What I Needed".

For me, their material has really held up over time: Great songwriting (melody, hooks, and clever lyrics) and great performers/players.


Yup, Nashville-economical guitar solos I have always admired.


The guitar solo in "Tonight She Comes" is one of my favorite all-time solos. It comes in so melodic, and before you know it, Elliot Easton is just ripping like a shredder over a fairly laid-back pop song. Great whammy-bar work with the dips. Primo stuff!


Back then, I was always "zero'd in" on a few groups, or types of music. Guess that I'm the same today too.

I didn't pay attention to the Car's. Not saying that I didn't like the music, just didn't grab me.

One night, some friends came over and said, "JD, you gotta listen to this album!"......................"Candy-O"..........I was hooked, and had to get the first Cars album, and every one that came out after that.

I put EE in the same league of playing as George Harrison and Paul Cotton. 10 seconds of voicing and timing is SO much more than a 10 minute rambling lead.

Still feel that way


Even tho Cars came out around the time the New Wave thing got going, they outlasted many of those groups and were more versatile. The breakout song, Just What I Needed I thought was like ok, another sort-of-heavy rock band but it was Best Friend's Girlfriend that pulled me in mainly cause it wasn't a lot of heavy guitar, and I still want the double E to spill the beans on the gear setup used to get that clean sparkly sound in the lead and between verse fills on that song. Even at the time I thought it might be Gretsch Filtertrons talking. At least by pix it appears Ocasek was an SG guy in those days.


Better late than never.

"Youre All I've Got Tonite",,, is guitar music magic. The arrangement of the instruments in its final product is amazing.


Better late than never.

"Youre All I've Got Tonite",,, is guitar music magic. The arrangement of the instruments in its final product is amazing.

– LA_Manny

Yep, "You're All I've Got Tonight" is a great song. It's my favorite Cars song.


First time I saw cars on british tv the lead was playing a black musicman sabre 2. I thought it sounded fantastic. Up to then I had never even considered another guitar to use along side my Tenny. I happened across a new one in a small music shop in Leeds, Yorkshire. Tried it and it felt just right for me. After a few months I bought it Nov 1979

Nailed the cars sound with ease.

Still have it and my Tenny..never needed or wanted any others.


The Cars got me through the 80's and I feel like their arrangements are what gave me the inspiration for my own arrangements in my music, just not near as good. I have always loved those fingerpicking parts in Best Friends Girlfriend. All of it just came together so well, the harmonies and the way the instruments all worked together to create a song. Great stuff! Kudos to the entire band but yes especially Elliot.


The solo is a great song within a great song. Uh oh, it's magic! :)


Mr. Easton, how did you make a white guitar turn red at the end of the solo??? :)


As a fledgling teenage guitarist, I must have played 'Best Friend's Girlfriend' a thousand times

No exaggeration

Imnsho, rhythm guitar chops is way way more important than solo prowess

His rhythm guitar is awesome. His solos are also great - I know less is not more; more is more, according to Elliot, but he was doing more with a solo lasting seconds than guitar wankers did with solos measured in minutes

Elliot, Marr, Giraldo, Gibbons, Setzer, Zoom, The Edge (if you can even call them solos), Summers... These are guitarists that serve the SONG. That is what guitar is supposed to be ... An instrument that serves the song and the band, not a way to showoff 128th notes

Elliot's guitar playing stands the test of time.

I initially did not like 'New Wave' ... It seemed like punk, watered down for the masses. That lasted a few milliseconds. The Cars were a huge part of my daily soundtrack.

To me, good soloing and guitar playing in general is like good acting

It doesn't draw attention to itself

It makes the movie better. If you are sitting there and compelled to say 'awesome acting', it's drawing attention to itself vs serving the role and the movie

Good acting is so good you don't notice it as good acting. It just makes the movie good. Time passes more quickly

Thats good guitar playing. Every song is BETTER. They are over before they start because the guitar playing pulls you into the song's reality, such that every note, riff etc seems like it's the only possible notes that COULD have been played... They become part of the integral Essence of the song

I'm all about analogies and a good surfer is more about how radical IT can get, not how radical HE can get, making the hard seem easy, not look hard. Listening to guitar abs thinking 'man, that must be hard to play' isn't as impressive as listening to it and you never notice how hard it would be to play

It just sounds kind of simple ... And right

It's only when YOU try to play it, that you realize how perfectly played and often difficult it is to play

It's awesome stuff


I never really considered them new wave, regardless of what MTV or the Radio heads back then labelled them. I always considered them Rock.


I've always loved the guitar in The Cars and Steely Dan (stick with me!)...the idea of a solo being a song within a song really appeals to me. When the hooks are so strong that even non-musicians hum/sing along, and you couldn't imagine the song existing without the solo. George Harrison did this too...so does Mike Campbell from Tom Petty. And Elliott is one of the 3 great guitar players from Massapequa, along with Brian Setzer and......me! Bwaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha!


I never really considered them new wave, regardless of what MTV or the Radio heads back then labelled them. I always considered them Rock.

– Suprdave

I consider New Wave a 'flavour' of rock, just like punk - but I think what got them the label was the prominent synths, the use of (sometimes) electronic drums, and their look (in the video era). Keyboards don't make you new wave (nobody ever called the heartbreakers new wave) , but when they have that synthy feel...

Their videos contributed too - Look at 'Tonight She Comes' . Synth drums, heavy New Wave fashion sensibility, lots of Moire and check patterns in the background, Ocasek with the oversized coat (David Byrne took one to extremes ... Not sure who did it first. But if you are a tall Skinny guy, those jackets are awesome)

Elliot's solo in that song is pure awesome. Floyd Rose used to the max in the best melodic way possible


Nuno of the band Extreme (which I'm a big fan too and he cites EE as his hero) said it best: not a single note wasted on the solo "Tonight She Comes".


Nuno of the band Extreme (which I'm a big fan too and he cites EE as his hero) said it best: not a single note wasted on the solo "Tonight She Comes".

– jetbunny

I think Nuno is awesome

Ironically, I JUST sold my 'Nuno' (Washburn N4 Nuno Signature Model) a couple of hours ago on Reverb

I was listening to 'Get the Funk' out which is such a classic 80's guitar 'excess' solo - the tapping, the whole 9 yards

Extreme was SO good musically, I think we'll described as Van Halen meets the Chili Peppers (and of course their singer was the VH vocalist for a while)

Most people just know 'More than Words' and maybe 'Hole Hearted' . There are a few really hard rocking bands from that era, mostly known only for their breakthrough ballad

Nuno is currently the touring guitarist with Rhianna last I checked

He also looks REALLY good for an 80's guitar god. Many of them have not aged gracefully


I love The Cars! Used to cover You're all I got Tonight in a band, such a rocking song, people loved it and it was pretty challenging (for me) to solo to at that time anyway. Elliot Easton's the man, very cool see him posting here. I've posted live footage of them on facebook more than once late at night.

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