The mission of this blog is to honor, non-commercially promote, and educate the world about Benjamin Orr, former bass player and one of the lead vocalists for the new wave rock band, The Cars. Articles here cover a whole range of topics surrounding his life, his career, and his continuing legacy. Enjoy!
“Ric and I have always gotten along, especially musically. We’re good friends as well, but probably the reason why we kept playing together so long is strictly because of the music. Not ‘strictly because of the music…’ just because the music and the friendship were wonderful through all these years and it’s continuing on.” — Retro Rock interview, date unknown
2018 promises to be an exciting year for The Cars and for the Fanorama! Dave and Donna touch on some of the cool things known to be on the horizon (RRHOF, expanded issues), and speculate about other realistic prospects (new music, a tour?). Dave introduces a new segment called “You’re A Flick Fandango Phony,” and is (thankfully) relieved of having to make stuff up for The Midnight Scroll. BUT in the middle of all of that… things turn serious!
Donna helps Dave go into ‘trivia training’ in anticipation of a possible face-off with Stephen Colbert. Up for grabs? Ric Ocasek’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame award! Okay… well, technically it might not be on the table… Ric did promise to give it to Stephen Colbert if he ever received one… and if he does pass it on, will Stephen put it on the line? I guess we’ll see if Mr. Colbert is man enough to accept the challenge!
Dave is put through his paces with a 50 question quiz all about the band. The hilarious fallout from the exercise includes an unexpected cameo appearance from Alberto Vargas, some alternate ideas for Benjamin’s solo album, The Lace, and a shaky confirmation of how many fingers Elliot Easton-Steinberg-Shapiro REALLY has. A few frustrations with the test seem to jangle up the results a little… Stay tuned for Dave and Donna’s own Cars’ Trivia quiz down the road.
“One night at a Voices show in Greensboro, North Carolina, Ben walked through the hotel lobby and bellied up to the bar. He sat down beside the Starship boys and ordered a round of tequila. It was like he was always there, like he belonged. He just fit right in. And he brought all that talent of his with him, too. The cool, the class, the big hits, and the voice. He was so great on stage. Every time.
“But I could never talk him into coming out on the golf course with us. And I tried hard. I know he would have liked hitting the ball. He was a pretty good athlete. And I know he liked hanging out with all the guys. I think he just couldn’t get used to the clothes, especially in Hawaii. You know, it’s all those khaki shorts and stuff. Not enough black leather. Maybe it would have been different if the golf cars had Harley Davidson logos painted on them!” — John Cafferty, Voices of Classic Rock, 1999 (retrieved from the “Benjamin Orr Remembered” Facebook group; used with permission)
Earlier in 2017, Record Store Day induced nearly 5,000 Cars fans to swarm their local vinyl shop in search of one of the limited editions of a new offering from Rhino Records: the officially released recording of The Cars Live At The Agora, 1978. I had the privilege of writing a review of the album for Standing Room Only, a website dedicated to promoting music, art, and specialty foods in the northern New England area. Click below to read my thoughts, and don’t forget to follow SRO’s Facebook page for more great articles!
The inclusion of The Cars into the Rock Hall Class o’ 2018 has me looking forward to the next year with a crazy-different outlook.
Of course, the induction ceremony itself is the big deal… to go to Cleveland or not go to Cleveland? I’ve got a little “Mad Money” envelope in which I’ve been squirreling away my shekels in the event that travel expenses are needed, so the money isn’t the hinge… it’s approaching the subject with The Fam.
To their credit, my husband and kiddos are pretty patient with my Cars obsession, but I know there is a limit to their tolerance, and I’m not sure if me winging my way across the country for a weekend of ‘brushing my rock and roll hair’ falls within the acceptable limits of “Mom time.” Haha!
But enough about what I might be up to… what treats can we reasonably expect from The Cars in the new year? Last January we caught a teasing glimpse of 2017’s offerings from a tweet by Elliot; this month we see Ric and David dropping hope-inducing hints, and giving us some outright revelations as well.
So… without further ado… here is my list of predictions and possibilities for 2018:
Rock Hall Induction (April 14): Okay, so we can count on new merch (I already ordered my RRHOF Class of 2018 t-shirt), but beyond that? Chances are great for a kick-ass musical reunion of Ric, Elliot, Greg and David on the stage! I’m also looking forward to more interviews and photographs with the band members, a heartfelt and touching tribute to Benjamin, a super-cool display of Cars memorabilia at the Rock Hall itself, great quotes from other music industry icons about how influential The Cars were/are, and the increased hype over The Cars in general.
Debut Album Anniversary (June 6): Right on the heels of the induction comes the 40th anniversary of that iconic debut album. I see SO much potential here for amazing stuff to come out of that vault in Ric’s basement! From a demo standpoint we may be all tapped out; we were given a generous helping of those with the 1999 deluxe edition. And it would be great if there were other original Cars songs that were recorded but didn’t make it to vinyl… Again, I know there are quite a few floating around out there so we may be out of luck. But at the top of my list of “please please please!” requests is FOOTAGE. And number one on the footage list? The Cars’ debut party! There are two clips on youtube from that June 23, 1978, show and I am aching to see the rest of it! I will say that the incredibly talented Paul McAlpine has been tweeting photos from that momentous event and I am over the MOON with happiness.
Catalog Reissues: Remember how electrifying it was to wake up to the news last May that The Cars were reissuing Candy-O and Panorama? Such a thrill! Well, in his interview with Rolling Stone magazine on December 13, 2017, David assured us that the expanded editions of Shake It Up and Heartbeat City were on their way next, possibly in February of 2018. I’m so curious as to what delights will be in store for us there… new photos? Previously unreleased tracks? I can’t wait to see the “Side 4” etchings… and then David had to go and get me even more excited by saying, “There’s going to be a surprise when you see one of the album covers I’ve been working on…” Gah! Don’t DO that to me!
Long shots, and magic lamp wishes: Okay, here’s where I start flinging snowballs into the underworld. Dare we hope… is it even possible? Will The Cars put out a new album in 2018? Or TOUR??? It might not be as out-of-the-realm as I once thought. When asked the question directly, Ric didn’t demur. “I don’t know. Maybe so. Maybe this will be a good reason to do it again, though I really miss Ben as part of the thing…” (Rolling Stone magazine, December 13, 2017). Holy heck! That would be incredible! Now, given their lack of enthusiasm for touring in general, I know that I’m REALLY pushing it, but could they make it all the way over to Seattle again? I would gleefully drive the seven hours necessary to park my little hiney in a seat for that!
More things I’d summon the genie for: Any previously unreleased concert videos, audio recordings, or photographs… the France show in its entirety would be terrific!… other shows in Europe, a Panorama show… How about footage of their recording sessions? Or let’s go deeper into the archives and dig up stuff from Ocasek & Orr, Richard and the Rabbits, and Cap’n Swing. As you know, my appetite for the band’s history is insatiable.
Other “Cars world” delights: I do have my fingers crossed for a few other things that are not part of The Cars “Official” but that would really roll my little skate just the same: I would love nothing more than to have a copy of Joe Milliken’s biography about Benjamin Orr in my hot little hands in 2018. Also, I am eager for more person-to-person meetings with members of the Fanorama (possibly in Cleveland???). I can’t wait to do some more writing for Standing Room Only — Cars-related and otherwise! On top of that, more researching, more blogging, more sunshine and rainbows… lots of fun and wonderful things to look forward to in the new year!
What do you think? How could The Cars shake it up for you in 2018? Leave a comment here or find this post on Facebook and let me know. ❤
For the final episode of 2017 Dave and Donna welcome a very special guest to the studio! Jenny Durgin shares her experience of attending the taping of SiriusXM’s Town Hall discussion featuring Ric Ocasek.
In an interview recorded on April 28, 2016, Ric sat down with moderator Mark Goodman to answer questions from a select group of about two dozen SiriusXM subscribers. The Q&A lasted roughly an hour and covered a range of topics, from Ric’s early days as a writer to the 2011 reunion with The Cars.
Jenny walks us through what it took to get a seat in the audience, relates some of the cool stories that didn’t make the aired audio, and offers her reflections on Ric’s overall demeanor and attitude. And of course, we can’t help but take a few shots at Mark Goodman here and there… just saying. We also chit chat about dear Pocket Benjamin — if you are not familiar with PB you MUST take a listen!
You can follow Jenny on Twitter @jendurama. You’re going to want to check out her youtube channel, too. She has a plethora of rare audio recordings and interviews, and her fan videos are awesome. So many gems to be found there!
I’m adding two links in here: the first is to the actual SiriusXM interview. Below that you’ll find the link to Episode 19. Take a listen, subscribe and comment. We want to know your thoughts! Don’t forget to follow us on twitter (@night_spots, @sweetpurplejune), too!
Thank you so much for listening to our ramblings over the last six months. We’ve had a blast, and we hope you have, too. Our next episode is scheduled for January 12, 2018. Have a safe and happy New Year, my friends!
“The grand room suited Paul, the cream-colored walls with gold accents a fine contrast to his dark good looks. I felt a wave of la douleur, one of the many French words that do not translate into English well, which means ‘the pain of wanting someone you cannot have.'”