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Elliot Easton says he recorded the solo for The Cars’ Touch And Go “in tears”

The Cars guitarist Elliot Easton was the first celebrity guest on Jeff Garlin and Jimmy Vivino’s new Couch Of Guitars series, which can be streamed over on the Gibson TV YouTube channel.

Sandwiched between Garlin and Vivino – both big fans of Easton's – Easton told the pair during his appearance about the making of the rockabilly-influenced Cars hit, Touch And Go.

The song was recorded for the band’s experimental 1980 studio album, Panorama, and features one of Easton’s most acclaimed electric guitar solos. 

“It’s one of the solos I get the most compliments about but it was rejected at first,” says Easton. “We were recording here in LA at Cherokee [Studios]. I played the solo perfectly and there was just silence in the room.

“They were like, ‘I don’t know… Could you try another approach?’ They got me playing one of Ben [Orr]’s basses upside down into a Fender Twin Reverb amp with tremolo, playing a six-string bass like a baritone guitar! 

“Finally, I was in tears, like ‘fuck this!’ And I grabbed my guitar and said, ‘This is a fucking solo! You tape this…’ And I played the solo with like tears flying out of my eyes. And they said, ‘Now you’ve got it! Before it looked like you were thinking about it too much.’ And I could have fucking killed them!”

In the same interview, Easton also recalls the time he borrowed a guitar string from a bathing-suit clad Neil Diamond, after learning the songwriter’s parents lived opposite his junior high school band’s rehearsal space, in Massapequa, New York.

“We could see this yellow Lincoln Continental [in the drive opposite] so we knew Neil was there visiting his parents. So this was a Sunday, I broke a string on my guitar, ‘Where are we going to get a string?’ ‘Oh, Neil’s home!’ His parents lived directly across the street, so I crossed the street and knocked on the door and Neil answers in a bathing suit! I’ll never forget it. 

“We were like, ‘Uh, Mr. Diamond, you wouldn’t happen to have a guitar string? We broke a string and we’re having our band practice…’ He goes, ‘Sure I do!’ He goes over to the trunk of his car, opens up his guitar case and gives me a Gibson Sonamatic string. I kept the envelope. I kept it forever.”

For more Eastman insight, check out the full Couch Of Guitars interview over on Gibson TV.

Matt Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.