Touch and Go (The Cars song)

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"Touch and Go"
Touch and Go - The Cars.jpg
Single by The Cars
from the album Panorama
B-side "Down Boys"
Released August 25, 1980 (1980-08-25)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1980
Genre New wave, rockabilly
Length 3:41
Label Elektra 47039
Songwriter(s) Ric Ocasek
Producer(s) Roy Thomas Baker
The Cars singles chronology
"Double Life"
"Touch and Go"
"Don't Tell Me No"
"Double Life"
"Touch and Go"
"Don't Tell Me No"
Panorama track listing

"Touch and Go" is a song by American rock band The Cars from their 1980 album Panorama. The song was written by bandleader Ric Ocasek.


The song's verses feature the use of polymeter. The bass and drums are playing in a time signature of 5/4, while the vocals, keyboards, and guitar are playing in 4/4.[1] For the lengthy pre-chorus and chorus, all instruments (and vocals) conform to the 4/4 signature. The guitar solo was played over music similar to the chorus, but with some sections extended to give Elliot Easton more measures on the chords E minor, F major, and G major, to build his flashy, melodic solo which resolves to a C major seventh chord.


"Touch and Go" was released as the debut single from Panorama. It reached number 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1980, making it the highest charting American single from Panorama.[2] Its follow-up singles, "Don't Tell Me No" and "Gimme Some Slack" failed to chart.

"Touch and Go" has consistently appeared on many of The Cars' compilation albums, including Greatest Hits, Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology, Complete Greatest Hits, Shake It Up & Other Hits, and The Essentials. Aside from Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology, it is the only track from Panorama to appear on said albums.


"Touch and Go" has generally received positive reception from music critics. AllMusic critic Greg Prato said the song was a standout on Panorama "which merges off-time keyboard flourishes with some great textural guitar work by Elliot Easton."[2] Donald Guarisco, also of AllMusic, described the track as "a surprisingly straightforward ballad that became a minor hit for the group", also stating, "[t]he melody is appropriately moody, consisting of attractive verses that hypnotically ebb and flow, a constantly ascending pre-chorus bridge that builds tension and a gorgeous call-and-response chorus that releases that tension", concluding that the song was "a sleek tune perfect for the car radio."[3] Music critic Robert Christgau said that the song was one of the peaks of Panorama.[4]

John Lennon's opinion[edit]

Former Beatle John Lennon mentioned the song in his final interview on 8 December 1980, praising it for its fifties sound and comparing it with his current record at the time, "(Just Like) Starting Over." He said, "I think The Cars’ 'Touch and Go' is right out of the fifties ‘Oh, oh… ‘ A lot of it is fifties stuff. But with eighties styling, but, but… and that’s what I think 'Starting Over' is; it’s a fifties song made with an eighties approach."[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1980) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 62
Canada RPM [6] 16
French Singles Chart 2
New Zealand Singles Chart 42
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 37


  1. ^ "Polymeter/Polyrhythm". Guitar Alliance. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Prato, Greg. "Panorama". 
  3. ^ Guarisco, Donald. "Touch and Go". 
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "The Cars". 
  5. ^ Sholin, Dave; Kaye, Laurie. "John Lennon’s last interview, December 8, 1980". Beatles Archive. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 2016-10-17. 
  7. ^ "The Cars - Charts & Awards - Billboard Singles". AllMusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2009-11-04.