My Best Friend's Girl

Album: The Cars (1978)
Charted: 3 35

Songfacts®:

  • Cars frontman Ric Ocasek wrote this song and sang lead on the track. The story is one we've heard before: his girlfriend has left him and taken up with his best friend. The song has elements of the many heartbreak songs of the '50s and '60s that emerged in the early years of rock (like the hand claps), but Ocasek put a modern spin on it, making the guy in the song more nuanced and a little volatile. The details he uses to describe her - with her "nuclear boots" and "drip-dry glove" - are far off kilter from what we usually hear in these kind of songs. We're left with no idea what happened in this relationship or how the guy really feels about her, which is the way Ocasek liked it. His songs didn't tell personal stories, but were amplified and skewed reflections on what he noticed in others.
  • This was the second single from The Cars, following "Just What I Needed." Like most of their early songs, Ocasek wrote the song and made the demo at his home studio in Boston. When the band signed with Elektra Records, they recorded these songs with producer Roy Thomas Baker, who was at the controls for many of Queen's recordings. They ended up using Baker on their first four albums. His forte was layering harmony vocals and getting a very clean, crisp sound on his recordings. As he did with Queen, he let The Cars dictate the sessions and encouraged experimentation.
  • After recording this song, Cars guitarist Elliot Easton realized he had subconsciously borrowed the riff from the Beatles song "I Will."
  • The Cars were already on the radio before they signed their label deal (some Boston stations played their demo of "Just What I Needed"), so their early success was pretty much assured. In America, their early singles charted and earned airplay, but most fans bought the albums - their debut sold 6 million copies in the US. In the UK, the band got a lot of buzz from the prickly music press that loved their adventurous New Wave sound. "My Best Friend's Girl" was a huge hit there, climbing to #3.
  • Ric Ocasek found a distinctive guitar style on this song that would help define The Cars sound. Their keyboard player, Greg Hawkes, defined it as "clicky eighth notes."

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