Orangey Skies for Natalya Medvedeva
It’s an orangey sky
Always it’s some other guy
It’s just a broken lullaby
Bye bye love
Substitution mass confusion
Clouds inside my head
We’re fogging all my energies
Until you visited
Eyes of porcelain and blue
Could shock me into sense
You think you’re so illustrious
You call yourself intense
Ric Ocasek, clever poet or just a man possessed with a loquacious love of gibberish? Considering that I’ve never been able to shake loose these lyrics, I’m going to go with (a), final answer.
The Cars 1978 eponymous debut remains one of my early favorites. There on the cover, the grinning girl illuminated by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle. Will her airbagless 50s-era hot rod survive the crash? Will it be Bye Bye Love indeed?
That’s my twisted interpretation, at least.
So who is this woman, the cheerful model with the iconic smile? Did she enjoy a glorious career thanks to that vinyl calling card? Or did she vanish into obscurity?
I can’t feel this way much longer
expecting to survive
with all these hidden innuendoes
just waiting to arrive
it’s such a wavy midnight
and you slip into insane
electric angel rock and roller
I hear what you’re playin’
After a little digging, I uncover a story much richer than expected. The woman is Natalya Medvedeva, a young Russian model from St. Petersburg. Newly married, she moves to the USA and, thanks to her beauty, finds work immediately. Playboy adds her to the bunny roster and soon thereafter, the teenager lands the album cover. But she doesn’t follow the path of a typical fame-hungry, vapid model. In fact, Medvedeva becomes so thoroughly disgusted by it all that she writes a scathing critique of Hollywood titled Hotel California. The book is out-of-print. It’s also in Russian.
In the 80s, she becomes entangled with a dissident Soviet writer and moves to Paris. She plies away as a writer herself and publishes several books. She also begins singing. But after the Cold War ends, she is once again divorced and living in Russia. Medvedeva earns notoriety as a punk singer during these later years. There are a few videos of her on YouTube. You see a much older woman, lanky with dark-haired playing the role of edgy chanteuse, knee-deep in a world of performance art and cheesy Russian metal. Here’s a fine example of this:
But then she dies in 2003. She has a heart attack while sleeping–at age 44. No other information is known. It all smacks of mystery.
There really isn’t much more information available on Medvedeva. I suspect that a greater amount exists among Russian sources. I wonder if Ocasek stayed in touch with this anti-cover girl. I certainly doubt it. Yet part of me hopes he did. He would be far more interesting for it.
Medvedeva, looking cool as ever, in an undated photograph.