Just What I Needed

Album: The Cars (1978)
Charted: 17 27
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  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Cars leader Ric Ocasek wrote this song in a basement at a commune in Newton, Massachusetts, where he lived at the time. At least that's the story he told - he also said that all written words are fiction.

    "Just What I Needed" is a classic example of his skewed sense of humor and sly lyrical touch. It seems very sweet when he's telling the girl she's just what he needed and letting her know he's happy to have her wasting his time. But then he gets to the chorus:

    I guess, you're just what I needed
    I needed someone to feed
    I guess, you're just what I needed
    I needed someone to bleed


    Someone to feed? Someone to bleed? Ocasek kept things interesting by keeping the characters in his songs a little unhinged at times.
  • This established The Cars as one of New Wave's leading hitmakers and helped get them a deal with Elektra Records. They recorded a 2-track demo of the song that their manager brought to two popular Boston radio stations: WBCN and WCOZ. This ploy rarely works, but the group had built a following in the area and the song was very radio-friendly. Both stations played it and listeners loved it; on WBCN, it became the most-requested song by a local band in the history of the station.

    With a song on the radio in a major market, The Cars were a surefire success and had their pick of record labels. They went with Elektra, who had them re-record the song and released it as their first single.
  • Ric Ocasek was The Cars' frontman, but he had bass player Ben Orr sing lead on this one. Unlike some singers, Ocasek had no problem handing off a hit to a different bandmember to sing: Orr, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2000, also got the lead on "Drive."
  • This is a very catchy song, with verses that are basically a pre-chorus. The first two stanzas repeat twice:

    I don't mind you comin' here
    And wastin' all my time
    'Cause when you're standin', oh so near
    I kinda lose my mind

    It's not the perfume that you wear
    It's not the ribbons in your hair
    And I don't mind you comin' here
    And wastin' all my time


    The song keeps a formidable energy throughout, making it suitable for repeated listens. It endured as a Cars favorite and a staple on classic rock radio.
  • This was produced by Roy Thomas Baker, an Englishman best known for his work with Queen. The Cars were an American group, but they sought out a British producer because they tended to be more adventurous and didn't strive for hit singles. With Baker, the man who produced "Bohemian Rhapsody," they knew they could experiment in the studio.
  • Seven years after it was first released, this made its second appearance on a single - this time as the B-side of the Cars' last Top 10 hit, "Tonight She Comes."
  • This song was used in the opening credits of the 1999 Oscar-winning film Boys Don't Cry, starring Hilary Swank

    Step Sisters (2018)
    Sky High (2005)
    200 Cigarettes (1999)

    And in these TV shows:

    Bob's Burgers ("The Hormone-iums" - 2016)
    WKRP in Cincinnati ("Preacher" - 1979) >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Melania - Moscow
  • This is one of the songs The Cars performed at Live Aid; they played the Philadelphia stage.
  • In 2005, the now-defunct electronics chain Circuit City used the ad slogan "just what I needed" and ran ads using it with this song. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Eric - Suffern, NY
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Comments: 28

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 11th 1978, "Just What I Needed" by the Cars entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #90; and on September 10th it peaked at #27 (for 2 weeks) and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #4 in France...
    Between 1978 and 1988 the quartet had eighteen Top 100 records; four made the Top 10 with "Drive" being their biggest hit, it peaked at #3 in 1984...
    Their other three Top 10 hits were "Shake It Up" (#4 in 1982), "You Might Think" (#7 in 1984), and "Tonight She Comes" (#7 in 1985).
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkYes "Just What I Needed" by The Cars got New Wave really noticed back in The Eighties. Actually, I became a Cars fan throughout their heyday, buying all their singles & albums. Can't believe that Songfacts doesn't include "My Best Friends' Girlfriend" and other big Cars' hits! Tsk! tsk! tsk! Used to cruise the boulevards and avenues around Joplin & suburbs in convertibles with my pals listening to The Cars. In mild weather, it's the best way to cruise & listen to The Cars' hits!
  • Casey from Glendale, AzI like the song but can't stand how the chorus is sung.
  • Bill from Dallas, Tx"The Cars" was one of THE albums in my college years. Listening brings back so many great memories of the times and the friends and the parties. My school was a small Catholic college without many traditions. But, one of the best of those traditions was the celebration of Groundhogs Day. I still remember drinking beers out around the bonfire in the cold early morning singing these songs along with all of my classmates. I agree with Pat from St. Paul, the best way to listen to these songs is in your car, windows down and the volume cranked up!
  • Eb from Fl Keys, FlI took a long break from secular music when I became a Christian. When I got back to it a bit, the Cars are one of the bands that I really appreciated musically, that I kind of tended to have overlooked and took for granted before.
  • Lisa from Melrose, WiBest song Ever!!! I like the fountains of wayne vs the cars version-orr can't be bear-R.I.P.
  • Dave from Boston, MaBest song on the debute album is the last one - All Mixed Up. It has perfect melody and flow. I alway wondered who in the band took turns to sing the verse "It's all mixed up" x3 near the end of the song. I'm pretty sure it was Ben and Rick but there was a 3rd person - just not sure if it was Greg, Elliot or Dave?
  • Pat from St. Paul, MnI can't believe "Good Times Roll" and "My Best Friend's Girl" are not on Songfacts. They were on the same album as this song and are much better songs. "Good Times Roll" is best listened to at full volume while cruising in your car with the windows rolled down.
  • Paul from Marysville, WaSongs in which Ric and Ben sing lead on the same song? Panorama's "You Wear Those Eyes," and Heartbeat City's "It's Not the Night."

    In both songs, Ben sings most of the song, with Ric only singing lead in a couple parts.

    I discovered Ric sang a few lines of "It's Not the Night" when I saw the band on tour in '84.

    With "You Wear Those Eyes," I first recognized Ric's lead vocal this summer! ("Just take your time, it's not too late. I'll be your mirror, you won't hesitate.")
  • Mario Saravaja from Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia And Herzegovinai love this song and every son of the cars
  • Bill from Dallas, TxSorry, Don, both Ric and Ben sang lead on both sides of the record. Ric sings 4 of the 5 tunes on side 1, Ben 3 of the 4 on side two. And Yes, Ed from Clearmont, the beat change is intentional. Can anyone name the 2 songs where both Ric and Ben switch off to sing lead? Hint: not on the first or second record.
  • Vernon from Trinidad, Wi, OtherEd in Illinois, I've always enjoyed that bit when the drums change. It's right when he sings "wasting all my time, time" that it changes in the last verse. Reminds me of how the drum rhythms go mad and change in Yes's "Changes".
  • Echo from Normalville, MaWhy does circuit city have to ruin a perfectly good song (with a great solo)?!
  • Joe from Chicago, Arkool song old skool and new wave, for anybody who hasn't listened to the cars and likes new wave music check them out now by a greatest hits cd or something because they are awesome.
  • Don from NewmarketAll lead vocals on one side of the first album were sung by Ben Orr. All lead vocals on the flip side were by Ric Ocasek.
  • Jonathon from Clermont, Fl This is definitely one of my favorite songs of all time. Other songs I really like are "Refugee" (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers), "Another One Bites The Dust" (Queen), "Hello, I Love You" (The Doors), "Livin' On The Edge" (Aerosmith), "Mind Games" (John Lennon), "Come Together" (The Beatles), and "Catch My Fall" (Billy Idol). Music is important to me.
  • Jim from North Billerica, MaI rememeber hearing the original demo version when I was in High School. It had such a unique sound, I still like it better than the polished production version. as far as the album version goes, I agree with Pepper, "bye bye Love" was the better of the two, but the demo version still rules for me.
  • Ed from Incognito, IlI like the way in the last verse, for 4 measures, the snare drum hits on the 1, and the 3 rather than on the 2, and 4 beats, like every song written in 4/4 time. I know it sounds very technical, but listen to it, and you'll hear it switch to the 1, and 3 then back to 2, and 4. I always wondered if this was intentional. Knowing The Cars, I bet it was.
  • Pepper from Virginia Beach, Vagreat song, but I still think the best song on their debut was Bye Bye Love
  • Steve from Providence, RiMy wife and I consider this "our song." It gets some regular airplay on a local station, so our son (age 7) runs in the room yelling "it's your song!" whenever he hears it. We're teaching him music appreciation early...
  • Matthew from Downers Grove, IlYeah, i dont like how Circuit City is using it in their advertisments. That's the way to ruin great songs. I still love this one, though.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InGreat stuff by The Cars!! Wish they would do a tour. It wouldn't be the same without Orr, but I never saw them back in their hayday so I'd take em' anyway they came.
  • Louie from Staten Island, NyActually I meant it sounds like Yummy Yummy Yummy by the Ohio Express.
  • Louie from Staten Island, NyThe opening guitar riff sounds like Chewy Chewy by the Ohio Express. A bubble gum band from the 60's. Either way,one of my favorites songs.
  • Haley from Thomasville, GaTHIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    its so sweet! i want the guy who has the courage to propose to me to play it in the background!
    hahhaaa. anywayz, im just a sucker for the cars!
  • Shana from Pembroke,ontario, Canadai love the begining, its just a good song overall
  • Jennifer from Fredericton, New Brunswick, CanadaI love this song...that's all i can say.
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, WashingtonCircuit City is using this currently (2004) in their ads.
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