The ‘Cars’ guy is way more than just the ‘Cars’ guy

Gary Numan used to be the “Cars” guy, and my interest went no further. But about a year ago, an old Tubeway Army clip led me to a succession of Numan songs and a newfound respect for a wonderful artist.

Post-“Cars,” Numan kept to the fringes of music mainly as a cult figure, yet he has since that time cast a surprisingly long shadow. I could make wild statements like, “Trent Reznor and Billy Corgan are so dependent upon Gary Numan that Numan likely claims them as dependents on his taxes,” and, “There is nothing the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails have done that Gary Numan hasn't done before, and much better at that.” Don't think so? Do your research, smart guy.

Unbeknownst to most of us, Numan picked up where Wax Trax! industrial dance fizzled out and showed a seemingly indifferent world how it is done. Instead of crowning our king, we instead looked to Reznor and Corgan, and a slew of much lesser talents. One of my favorite songs last year was “My Name Is Ruin,” a beat-heavy synth jam that feels like a middle-aged Pretty Hate Machine returning to its hometown to kick ass and take names, with all of that album's melodramatics and teenage horniness deep in its DNA. I had no idea how much I needed that song until I heard it. (Don't miss it)