Back in January of 1981, the group Blondie released “Rapture”, which was a multi-format smash in the United States – placing at #1 on the Hot 100, #1 in Dance Club Play, and #33 on the Hot Soul Singles charts on Billboard Magazine that year. This song, taken from their sixth studio album, “Autoamerican”, also charted in over ten other countries, internationally. I grew up listening to a fair amount of Top-40 and Urban Contemporary music starting in the ’80s and became familiar with the musical tastes of a broad cross-section of people in my Rust Belt factory town of Flint, Michigan. Blondie, however, was one act that had managed to elude me almost completely.
I was barely in grade school when “Rapture” was a huge hit (the fifteenth-biggest song of ’81 on the Hot 100). My older brother, who is almost seven years older than me, had amassed a decent collection of records and tapes by the dawn of his high school years around that time. As it turns out, he just couldn’t stand Blondie, which is why I never heard their songs out of the speakers of our Fisher Hi-Fi in the living room. It wasn’t until my college years in the ’90s that I had bought their “Greatest Hits” CD by mail order through Columbia House (or BMG… I honestly can’t remember) and danced to their songs at “Old Wave” nights held every Tuesday at the Florida Theater in Gainesville.
Deborah Harry’s airy, humorous, sing-songy rap in the middle of the song (at approximately 1:54, above) usually makes me smile. When she gets to the part of the narrative when the “Man from Mars” eats the subject victim (who, somehow, lives on inside the Martian even after he’s been shot dead and with his head eaten), I have sometimes, literally, laughed out loud. It’s not that I find death by hungry Martian funny, but the best part of that rap is when his literal “taste” in cars is brought to light. Apparently, our Man from Mars chooses to eat “Cadillacs, Lincolns (too), Mercurys, and Subaru” – the last of which is curiously left as a singular, proper noun – as if the Martian had eaten just one ’78 Subaru BRAT and decided one was enough.
The mental tangent that all of this all sent me down was the following premise and question: What might be the Martian’s impression of the taste of each example from these four makes? Admit it to yourself, faithful CC Readers – this isn’t actually the nuttiest piece of mine that you’ve ever read. So here goes…
Cadillac. The “Standard Of The World” would be cuisine that is unadventurous, all-American, and luxurious. Good choice, Martian. If you’re going to eat a car, why settle for a Chevrolet? This Cadillac is rich, savory, and nutritionally well-balanced, if a bit on the generous side for a single serving – even for a Martian. There are no surprises with the way the Cadillac tastes. This is the most popular dish on the menu for those looking for something fancy and palatable.
Lincoln. Since our Martian has already eaten one American luxury car he liked, he has decided to sample another. This platter is even more traditional than the Cadillac – so traditional, in fact, as to seem a little old-fashioned, not unlike an actual Old Fashioned in a lowball glass. Still, this meal tastes good – even better to our Martian than the Cadillac, as he then decides to see what something else from the Ford Motor Company stable tastes like. (Notice how he skips right over any meals from Chrysler, whose offerings, though pleasing to the eye, smelled like death at the time.)
Mercury. “Wait a second,” says our Martian to himself. “This doesn’t taste like the Lincoln at all.” He’s disgusted, as the early-’80s-vintage Mercury is derivative and tastes just like a Ford, only with extra dressing and spices. “Blech. If I wanted a Ford, I would’ve just eaten a Ford, instead of one that’s been marinated in Brougham Sauce with all those extra, empty calories.” However, with one look at an ‘80 Ford Thunderbird (to which he says, No, thank you), our Martian decides to try something completely different than what he’s been noshing on.
Subaru. The Subie is exotic, flavorful, and completely out of the ordinary. There are flavors here mixed together that have never hit our Martian’s palate at the same time before. Completely intrigued by this Japanese fare, our Martian’s appetite has returned sufficiently (after having looked at the ’80 Thunderbird) – so much so, that he “keeps on eating cars!” I wonder what was the year, make and model of car our Man from Mars ate last. Whatever it was, I hope it tasted good, didn’t leave an aftertaste, that he had some gum, and that he also remembered to floss afterward before he commenced eating bars and guitars. And you don’t stop.