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This is what it’s all about:

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!

Please feel free to also check out my “All Things Elliot Easton” blog!

The Cars Unlocked: breaking down the credit roll

Many of you know that the credit roll at the end of The Cars’ Unlocked DVD is broken into four boxes, with different content going simultaneously in each little area. When I first got it, I went kinda buggy trying to watch each corner exclusively, and then rewinding and backtracking to hone in on the next section.

Well, I finally decided to break the screen into each of the four parts and zoom in on the action, and then clip each one as a video segment. Once I had all four, I strung them together into this one video. I started in the upper left and then went clockwise from there. We do lose a little in clarity, but we gain in the ability to focus!

Be sure to take a peek at the video’s comment section. I made a list of many of the delicious little tidbits to be found, along with their time stamps. This should make it easy to return to our favorite spots in the future. Let me know which ones are your favorites!

Here we go — enjoy!

Lyrics: “Go Away”

Lyrics: “Go Away” by The Cars

Well I think of you when I fantasize, the best I’ve ever had

And I think of you when I’m driving myself completely mad

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Walking on the footbridge high above the clouds

Listening to your yesterday (you didn’t make a sound)

Dazzled by your sweet lips touching on me

Here comes trouble, can’t you see

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Well I think of you when I dramatize the things we never did

And I think of you when I’m flying, when I’m feeling just like a kid

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Why don’t we go… why don’t we go away

Our own March madness!

Our own March madness!

beach club screen shot spjKicking off the month of March with something we’re so lucky to have: new footage!

And when I say “new” I mean brand-spanking, never-before-published NEW FOOTAGE. I’m so grateful to my cool collector friend who generously dug through the stacks to pull this to the surface for us!

I’ll be uploading more from this show (along with some behind-the-scenes deets) later this month, but for now, please enjoy the ORR Band’s performance of “Candy-O” at the Beach Club in Salisbury, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1998.

In other words:

“We were just beginning to explore new ideas as far as writing together, and unfortunately we never had the opportunity, because within the year Ben was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We lost him October of 2000… What a talent. As Liberty always said, he’s the rock star of the band, but he was natural. He didn’t try; he didn’t have to try. He had a voice that was just unbelievable, and he’d just step up to a microphone and just have this glow about him, you know what I’m saying? It was just magical.” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 12:47)

Valentine’s Day treat: 80 minutes of ORR

Hey friends, happy Valentine’s Day! Sweeter than chocolate, prettier than flowers… I’m giving you a yummy handful of holiday hearts in the form of a new video!

I’ve uploaded Ben’s performance at the Eureka Festival in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, on July 11, 1998. I’m still digging up background information on the show, but you don’t need my scribblings to be able to enjoy this rare footage. Have at it! ❤

P.S. I’ve also separated out and uploaded the backstage bits so those who are freaky-obsessed like me can more easily watch and re-watch it and analyze every.single.bit of it. Dig in!

Quoting Benjamin

How his relationship with Diane influenced his songwriting for The Lace: “We share a large amount of romance in this life, and you can’t help but put that into music. How can you be miserable? … It’s good for now and I hope it’s good later. There’s the cynical part — you have to maintain some portion of realism.” — “The Rewards of Rock Stardom” by Jim Sullivan, The Boston Globe, November 1, 1986

QuotingB

Lyrics: “Coming Up You”

“Coming Up You” by The Cars

How could they leave you standing

Holding on to the air?

With never a hope of landing

Didn’t they know you cared?

And you’re finding out it’s never quite like it seems

You’re finding out it’s never quite like it dreams

Didn’t you get connected

When things were still upside down?

Feeling somewhat neglected

Turning the tide around

You’re finding out it’s never quite like it seems

You’re finding out it’s never quite like it dreams

It keeps coming up you again

Well, you’re never too hard to find

It keeps coming up you again

Taking up all your time

It keeps coming up you, coming up you again

It keeps coming up you, coming up you again

However you want to take it

With streamers of violets

If only you could forsake it

It stifles your etiquette

And you’re finding out it’s never quite like it seems

Well, you’re finding out it’s never quite like it dreams

It keeps coming up you again

You’re never too hard to find

It keeps coming up you again

They’re taking up all your time

It keeps coming up you, coming up you again

It keeps coming up you, coming up you again

It keeps coming up you again

Coming up you, coming up you again

It keeps coming up you again

Coming up you, coming up you again

It’s coming up you

The Selland Arena: “Thank you down here, thank you up there!”

On October 26, 1978, The Cars opened for Cheap Trick at the Selland Arena in Fresno, California. From the looks of this newspaper article in the Fresno Bee on October 20, it was a highly anticipated appearance.

The_Fresno_Bee_Fri__Oct_20__1978_ cropped

What a treat to know that we can still experience that show!

First, the video. You’ve probably seen this before. Sometime at the end of 2018 (I think Octoberish?) this partial footage was shared on YouTube by Fresno Media Restoration (FMR). By the end of 2020 it had disappeared, but luckily, fan Gwyneth Jeffer had the foresight to save it before it was gone. She passed it on to me a while ago to upload it to my YouTube channel and I’m just now getting around to it — yay!

FMR had published the footage in two parts, but I’ve taken the liberty to combine them here in the order of the set. It’s just over 20 minutes long all together, which is about half of the full show. The video shows, to varying degrees, seven of the ten songs of the night. Here’s what they’ve got:

  • 00:00 intro
  • 00:47 “Good Times Roll”
  • 04:26 “Since I Held You”
  • 07:57 “Candy-O” (incomplete)
  • 09:48 “My Best Friend’s Girl” (incomplete)
  • 13:41 “Bye Bye Love” (incomplete)
  • 17:23 “Just What I Needed”
  • 21:00 “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (incomplete)

Take a look:

The guys are so tiny and the lighting is a struggle, and watching it makes me feel like I couldn’t afford a ticket so I had to sneak peeks through a missing board in the fence. Haha! Any view of them live is so great, though. We can find lots of things to gush about!

  • Ric’s cool as a cucumber, as always.
  • It’s an absolute treat to get a nice long look at David playing drums, and…
  • …Ben’s gorgeous in all red and his little black boots! Did you see (at about 11:30) when he moved off to the side to let Elliot have the spotlight during “My Best Friend’s Girl?” I love when he does that!
  • Elliot deserves having all eyes on him during that epic solo. They catch him during “Just What I Needed,” too, and I’m so glad — EE’s energy is hitting the ceiling!
  • We don’t get to see enough of Greg, but there’s a great moment of him in the spotlight during “Bye Bye Love.”

Let’s just focus on Ben here for another minute. He drives me crazy with his little head tosses, those badass rock star poses, and all that 1978 pout. He’s such a natural up there, addressing every corner of the audience, bold and upfront when he chooses to be. He sounds freaking amazing, too. And while Elliot’s energy is obvious in the way he jams his way through the songs, Ben simply exudes it, just standing there. It’s mesmerizing. I think my very favorite little part is at 20:30, when he pulls a stork pose at the end of JWIN. Dude’s on FIRE.

I’ve been wondering why the footage is interrupted by picture fills and dropouts. At first I thought maybe large portions of the original tape were damaged and that’s the best FMR could do to make it whole. Definitely possible, but now I’ve come up with a different little theory.

Friend and fan Jon Mortas mentioned on Facebook that the video was shot with a super 8 camera, and I figure this may account for the frequent intermissions of still photos with the live action. I am NO camera techie, but from what I understand from my cursory research, super 8 film spools could only hold 3 to 5 minutes of footage at a time, so the camera operator would have to stop filming, swap out the cartridge, and then resume recording, accounting for some loss of live footage. There’s a good chance that that is the case here, and that FMR added in still photos (or screenshots) to fill in the gaps so the audio track could continue uninterrupted. This is all just my speculation, of course.

Happily, the rest of the show is not lost to us — at least, not to our ears. I’ve uploaded the full audio recording to my channel for our listening pleasure. Here’s the complete set list:

  • 00:00 intro
  • 01:08“Good Times Roll”
  • 04:50 “Moving In Stereo”
  • 10:30 “Since I Held You”
  • 14:10 “Candy-O”
  • 17:00 “My Best Friend’s Girl”
  • 21:30 “Nightspots”
  • 25:45 “Bye Bye Love”
  • 30:20 “Don’t Cha Stop”
  • 33:56 “Just What I Needed”
  • 38:15 “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight” (encore)

It’s so great how clear Elliot’s guitar comes through. I think that’s actually my favorite part. And I love the little bits of chatter, but I can’t always tell who says what. I mean, I’m pretty positive that it’s Ben that says ‘thank you’ at 21:14, but does he also say ‘Fresno?’ It sounds weird. Haha! Or at the end, who is encouraging the crowd to “wear a badge for the future?” Is that Ric??

The best is when they come out for the encore and Ben says, “Thank you down here, thank you up there!” (around 38:15). Oh, one more… I can’t make out what Ben’s saying at 33:55; sounds like the recording got clipped a little. Dang it! Oh well. In spite of that and a few other minor flaws, this is an outstanding performance! I hope that all who took the Fresno Bee’s advice would agree. ❤

How about you? What is your favorite video moment? How about the audio? Let me know in the comments below, or via YouTube or Facebook. Enjoy!

It reminds me of him.

sting“…I wanted to play the bass and sing. There’s a special breed of people who can do something that is contra-punk. In other words, you can sing a song and strum a guitar along; it’s kind of easy. Whereas if you play the bass it’s a bit like, um, patting your head and making circles on your tummy. You’re doing something that involves two sides of your brain and not many people develop that skill, and it’s something that I was very proud of… I’ve always enjoyed having that particular skill set… I want to be the bass player who sings.”

— Sting, Upon Reflection

In other words:

“So, first day, I remember Ben coming to my house. Somebody picked him up at the airport, and I opened the door and there’s Benjamin Orr in all his glory and his … whatever… and I said, ‘God,’ I said, ‘you’re Ben Orr!’ and he goes, ‘So I’ve been told, pardner.’ He was a character (laughing).” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 8:44)