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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!

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Candy-O… Candy? No.

Exciting news! Well, at least for me. You know how I always have this nerdy little list of Ben mysteries that I am trying to solve, kind of like cold case files in the detective world? Well, thanks to the sleuthing skills of one of my good friends, “The Case of the Candy-O Lollipop” has been cracked!

candy oWe are all familiar with the now-iconic photo of Ben loving on a lollipop on the backside of the Candy-O album cover (if you’re not, just look to your right). Early in my obsession I had read lollipop pensomewhere that the lucky candy treat was actually not candy at all, but a type of writing pen that was popular in the sixties and seventies, with a little skinny handle and a large round lid over a ballpoint tip. As I recall, the story was that a secretary or an assistant on location at the photoshoot offered it to Ben as a prop. Of course, I haven’t been able to find that source since, and it has long been one of those things that I just wanted to be able to verify once and for all. Does it affect the government shutdown? Of course not. But there are those of us that just have to know every little thing…

So here you go: definitive proof! Zooming in on this outtake from the Candy-O photoshoot clearly shows that it IS a pen. Ah… another thing crossed off my list!

 

Candy-O photos by Jeff Albertson.

In other words:

On writing songs with Benjamin for The Lace: “I kept hearing this song coming upstairs from the studio and one day he said, ‘Hey, do you want to try writing lyrics with this song?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ And I said, ‘How will you know whether it’s going to work or not?’ and he said, ‘I’ll know immediately. If it works, it works.’ So we wrote ‘Stay The Night’ and it came very easily, and it was smooth, and he seemed to like my work, so we continued on from there and we wrote eleven songs.” — Diane Grey Page, “Rock Of The World” interview with host Phil Harvey, 1986

It reminds me of him.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Brandon Flowers of The Killers with Q on CBC. I can’t help but see two parallels here to the personality of Benjamin Orr: how both were different people on stage, and how both may have been motivated by an internal drive for acceptance.

“I have some weird desire to be accepted and to be acknowledged… I make you notice when I go on stage.” ~ Brandon Flowers, January 10, 2018

 

Lyrics: That’s The Way

That’s The Way  (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1985)

She’ll get you mystified, you’re going for a ride
Or you can let it drop.
Or you can take the hit or you can miss the ship
Or you could take the top
That’s the way I want, I gotta see you anyway…yeah

Well, you can jump the fence or you can have some sense
Or you can all the cop.
Or you can close the book or you can just unhook
And all I know is…
That you can have some if you want to (don’t close your eyes)

I could show you if you want to
But all I know is…

That’s the way I want
Shake you, take you down
All the way…yeah
(I tell you) That’s the way… all the way

Well, you can take what you want to (don’t close your eyes)
You can do what you like (** your eyes)
Just something else to get through (don’t close your eyes)
But you got to want to win
It’ll come around again anyway

Well, you can take what you want to (don’t close your eyes)
You can do what you like (** your eyes)
Just something else to get through (don’t close your eyes)
But you got to want to win
It’ll come around again anyway

Hey you can take the piece or you can shake the squeeze
You can let it drop.
Well, you can take the pass or you can break the glass
And all I know is…
That’s the way I want
Shake you; take you down
Yeah

Well you can roll it back or you can counteract
or you can shut it down.
Well you can take the hit or you can transmit (transmit)
And all I know is…
That you can have some if you want to (don’t close your eyes)
I can show you if you want to.
But all I know is…

That’s the way I want
Shake you; take you down…yeah
(I tell you) That’s the way…

All the way

2019… What more could there be?

2019… What more could there be?

Two thousand eighteen has been SO good to Cars fans! Can you believe these delights?

The band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ♥ The Cars playing together again live ♥ new interviews and memories shared by all four of the guys ♥ the release of two more expanded editions with their yummy bonus material ♥ vintage audio unearthed from The Grasshoppers, Mixed Emotions, Richard and The Rabbits and Cap’n Swing ♥ the publication of Joe Milliken’s biography of Benjamin Orr ♥ a whole crop of unique photos surfacing from fans and rock photographers…

WOW! It just seems like the whole year has been a big pile of gifts for us to unwrap, one at a time!

YIR01.jpg

And then for me, on a personal level, there is this whole other layer… a thick flannel blanket of memories I keep wrapping around myself:

Being invited to partner with Joe on the publication of his book ♥ driving into Cleveland for the first time ♥ bawling my eyes out after the induction ceremony ♥ David Robinson’s warm hands holding mine ♥ getting to hug SO many Fanorama friends (without using emojis!) ♥  having Greg Hawkes call my house in preparation for our podcast ♥ the shock of seeing my writing on big-screen display at the Rock Hall’s Foster Theater ♥ connecting with all of the wonderful people I’ve met this year ♥ finally getting to view Turbocharge ♥ being published in Rock Cellar Magazine

You guys, I feel like the list might never end. I’m so unbelievably grateful!

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After all that … is there anything left? Can anything possibly compare to 2018: The Year of The Cars?

To be honest, in some ways I do think these past twelve months were the pinnacle. I believe the curtain has closed with a gentle swoosh on our boys. I mean, I have to face the fact that there will likely be no new material from The Cars, and probably not from Ric as a solo artist, either. And no more live performances as a group. Though I am disappointed, I am not shaking my fist at the sky… I mean, these guys had a great run. A GREAT run! How can I begrudge them riding off into the sunset after all they’ve done?

However, they still leave their legacy for us and the generations to come, and I do believe there is still more to be revealed.

So what hope do we have for excitement in 2019?

Some sure things:

  1. We know we will still have the joy of hearing Elliot play. His current band, The Empty Hearts, is working on a second album, and I am optimistic that it will be released in the coming months. Always a busy man, Elliot seems to show up on a variety of stages, playing charity shows and jamming with friends. He also mentioned that he will be starting up a Youtube channel  in the coming months. How cool is that?
  2. Greg, too, continues to delight us with his musical talents. He has been having a blast touring with Todd Rundgren during the last year, and will continue to play with him through the months of 2019 as Todd embarks on an author event/concert series to promote his new book, The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations. I believe that Greg will record another episode of Night Thoughts, too. Can’t wait!

Fingers crossed for:

  1. Expanded editions of Door to Door  and  Move Like This. The odds are not in my favor on that, I know. The general feeling is that the band has exhausted its store of extras, but I can’t help but hope that when Ric takes a break from his art he’ll go through that vault one more time and turn up some goodies for us.
  2. And when he does sort through his stuff…  perhaps he’ll also turn up some old videos of live performances and interviews, audio recordings of the same, or a photo album he wants to share, or even just memorabilia he’d be willing to display on social media. I always want more of that kind of stuff! Or course, it’s not only on Ric. We are discovering all sorts of things floating around that fans and people ‘in the biz’ are digging up, and I am optimistic that we’ll be treated to more of that along the way.
  3. Joe has been kicking around the idea of doing a companion book to share more of the pictures Ben’s friends and family so generously gave him — and he’s had lots of encouragement!  It’s probably not feasible for that to be a done deal in the next twelve months with Let’s Go! still on its honeymoon, but I would love to at least hear that it’s an ‘official’ project.
  4. On that subject… With Let’s Go!  on bookshelves now, I can’t help but wonder if any of the other guys will be inspired to have their stories penned and published? That would be amazing. And if I may say so… I do have some experience in that field now, you know… so uh… call me? Hahaha! Wouldn’t I just DIE?

On my own agenda?

  1. “It’s my party, have some fun!” Okay, so it’s not technically MY party, but I am so excited for the upcoming book events for Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars! Being involved in the organization and promotion means I have the perfect excuse to attend them. I’ll be leaving for Cleveland in less than two weeks (hooray!), and I’m looking forward to Boston a little later on. Woot woot!
  2. Sunshine and Rainbows galore! NiGHT THOUGHTS: The Cars Podcast is still going strong (45 episodes in the can!) and Dave and I are eagerly looking forward to what 2019 holds for us. We have some exciting special guests coming up, a whole pile of topics, and more goofy shenanigans, guaranteed. Who knows how long we will continue this little hobby, but we’re having a blast!
  3. Typing Frog GIF - Muppet KermitTheFrog Type GIFsWriting, writing, and more writing!  With my book responsibilities winding down I anticipate being able to turn my focus back to my own little scribblings. This blog is definitely in need of attention! Haha!  I have many drafts in various stages of completion (including a Standing Room Only article that I promised Joe back in March – yikes!) and a whole list of research ideas collecting dust. Outside of that, I have been offered some more freelance work from a publisher who hired me for a piece earlier this year, and I am eager to take him up on it.

All in all, I am convinced that the next 365 days will be filled with fun and frolic in the Cars world, and I can hardly wait to share it all with you! What about you? What kinds of happy things are YOU anticipating in 2019? Comment below or find me on Facebook!

Quoting Benjamin

“I’m still a quiet guy. I like to keep my private life private. I remember we did one show in Chicago with Dickie Betts and the crowd was mean. They were throwing big ice cubes at us. I say, God bless ’em. They pay their money, they’re entitled to go wild. I don’t even care. I’m doing the work I’ve always wanted to do and I’m happy.” ~ Herald & Review, September 24, 1980

waiting1

In other words:

“It was a few years ago when I got a call to play in a charity softball game in Massachusetts. It was a ‘Rock & Jock’ game with the ‘Jocks’ being some of the past and present New England Patriots and Boston Bruins. The ‘Rocks’ were myself, Tunes, Jackie (from our Beaver Brown Band) and Ben Orr. When we saw the size of the guys on our team, and the Police All-Star Team that we were playing against, we thought that maybe the ‘Rocks’ they were talking about were the rocks in our heads for saying yes to this gig. But, as the game got underway the musicians banded and bonded — as musicians do — and cheered each other on from the end of the bench. We actually held our own with the big guys. We scattered a few hits between us and threw a little leather around the field and in the end (after we counted all of our fingers to make sure they were still there) there were high fives all around. We had won… whoa, we did it!” — John Cafferty, Voices of Classic Rock, October 9, 2000

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Ben and John Cafferty, Voices of Classic Rock. March, 1999.