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It is what it is.
It’s funny how some celebrity deaths hit harder than others, especially when you never really considered the impact the person had on your own existence. And while there have been famous people across artistic disciplines with whom I’ve experienced this, inevitably it’s been musicians that I’ve felt that connection to most deeply.
I admit I was surprised at the emotional reaction I had about Ric Ocasek, lead singer of The Cars. To be honest, I didn’t even know his name before his passing. At best, I was a casual fan in that respect, but their music represented a very specific time and place in my life.
After graduating college on the East Coast I crammed all my belongings into my Pontiac Vibe and moved to Texas. That time in my life was a whirlwind, and The Cars were in heavy rotation, thanks to my travel companion.
I was familiar with their hits, which played frequently on the radio, but until that point, never heard their tracks consecutively. In the 24-hour car ride from New Jersey to Houston, we listened to their albums for long stretches at a time. It made me realize just how many of their songs I liked, and how they good they were as a band. Beyond that, they made me feel exceptionally cool, and a little more confident as I ventured into the next uncertain chapter of my young life.
While my relationship with the band never ventured beyond casual fan, I always appreciated how they helped provide some familiarity and stability in a time where I was desperately grasping for both. And while it’s been many, many years since that trip, the music continues to be a source of comfort, nostalgia, and an excellent driving soundtrack.
Shortly after Ocasek’s passing, his children shared the last doodle he penned before he left this Earth.
“Keep on laughin’,” he urged. “It is what it is.”