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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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Those isolated tracks!

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Hello, friends! Just a quick post this morning as I got a great question from a reader (thank you, MV!). Having heard the isolated track that I posted in my article about “Just What I Needed,” she was curious and eager to find out if more such gems existed. I do know of a few, so I thought I’d post them all in one place to make it easier for all of us to enjoy the deliciousness of Ben’s vocals.

 

Here’s that initial one. It was posted by Jose Mirelli on Vimeo, and it includes Ben’s bass track and Elliot’s guitar solo:

Jose has two more on his Vimeo page: “All Mixed Up” and “Bye Bye Love.” I love the one for “Bye Bye Love” so much that I wrote a little gush about it. Haha! Again, these uploads are both vocals and bass:

 

There is also a Youtube channel that has taken songs from The Cars’ first album and broken them down into isolated tracks. The only ones on there (right now) with Ben’s vocals are “Just What I Needed,” “Bye Bye Love,” and “Moving In Stereo.” These are literally *only* vocals, so you have to wait through the silence at the beginning of each track. Don’t give up — these are fabulous!

 

 

SO amazing! I never get tired of his voice!

The reader who asked about this was pointing out that with the recovery of the Candy-O monitor mixes, certainly the capability of creating more of these kinds of audios is out there. Of course, we all wish that the vocal tracks would be released from EVERY song Ben recorded! To put on headphones and have him crooning right into my ears is such a divine experience, and believe me, I partake regularly. And now you can, too!

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy the post I did where I listed all of the songs I know of that Ben sang lead on. You can find it here: Benjamin: Lead Vocal List.

“Le Grand Chapeau”

Okay, so this is another one of my nerdy little mysteries … at least, it used to be!

I had heard this one 1987 interview on Youtube quite a while ago. It’s Ric and Ben with the late Bob Coburn on Rockline. A caller asked the guys what they do after a show, and Ben gave a rather odd and cryptic answer, which cracked Ric up, but left me baffled. Well, here… Take a listen:

Now what could he possibly mean? Surely not a literal hat, like his black bolero one from the Shake It Up days. Hmmm. Since I always chew on Ben’s words and turn them over and over in my head, his response really stood out to me but there was just no way I could figure out what in the heck he was talking about. So… I’m sure you can imagine how my eyes popped out of my head when I was reading Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken and I got to this part on page 108:

“The Cars had no drug scene. Most, as I recall, smoked cigarettes and pot, which was referred to as ‘putting on a hat’ or ‘le grand chapeau.'” ~ Stephen Bickford

Ahhhh! So that is what Ben meant! Goofy boy. He sounds so pleased with himself, too, the way he is snickering at his own joke. Hahaha!

Well, I guess we can lay that little riddle to rest.

Oh, and just to clarify, Stephen Bickford is a talented set designer who started working and traveling with The Cars around the time they were making Candy-O. He’s also the guy who (thankfully!) filmed a lot of the backstage antics that ended up in the epic The Cars: Unlocked DVD, and is credited with some great photos of Ben and the band, like this one:

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Benjamin Orr, 1982. Photo by Stephen Bickford.

Quoting Benjamin

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians? “Just keep finding the guys that complement the stuff you’re trying to write and work on. That’s totally important. You gotta get the mixture of the people you want in that band. That’s all I can… just hang in there!” ~ interview with A.J. Wachtel of The Beat, October 1987

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In other words:

Image result for mike girard ben orr“Ben was such a sweet guy. In the early days our bands played a lot of the same clubs and venues. He was always just a regular guy with a great sense of humor. We’d be like ‘how’d the gig go at whatever place, we’re in there next week?’

“When The Cars hit it big it was like they were shot out of a cannon! I didn’t see him for a year or so, until the Boston Rock awards. I stepped out for a smoke just in time to see him pull up on a Harley, wearing his bike leathers and looking like a GQ biker… Ben was a handsome kid. I tried to congratulate him on the year he’d just had, but he waved it off and wanted to talk about The Fools being up for a ‘Best Live Band’ award. Ben sure was the real deal!” ~ Mike Girard of The Fools, interview for Standing Room Only, January 18, 2019

 

It reminds me of him.

“The public attention had been getting progressively more out of hand and now was just unmanageable. It was not unusual to be mangled at an airport by Argentinean schoolgirls on holiday or followed on roads and highways by coeds, secretaries on lunch break, or moms from the carpool. Sometimes there was no interest in me as a person (let alone as an actor) whatsoever. It was as if people were on a big-game safari and had stumbled across a living Bigfoot and just wanted a hair sample and a smiling photo. These encounters left me feeling like I was living in a zoo, but I denied myself the realization that it bothered me. After all, who the hell was I to look askance at such good fortune?”

— Rob Lowe, Stories I Only Tell My Friends

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Lyrics: I Know I’ve Had My Chance

** I’m sorry I don’t have the audio for this, but I’ve heard the song and it’s a lovely, bittersweet ballad sung by Ben. I jotted down the lyrics, which were probably written by Ric Ocasek, though I don’t know that for sure. **

“I Know I’ve Had My Chance” by Cap’n Swing

I can’t remember when we had some time to spend

Seems like it’s been a year or two

I was traveling on the road, and you stayed at home and sewed

You stitched the lonely side of you

 

We were always friends pulling at different ends

And now you tell me that we’re through

I know I’ve had my chance, I know I’ve had my chance

I know I’ve had my chance

 

Now that you’ve given me just what I need to see

I hope that you will be just fine

When love is on the stray and feelings fade away

There ain’t no pushing back in time

 

We were always friends pulling at different ends

And now you tell me that we’re through

I know I’ve had my chance, I know I’ve had my chance

I know I’ve had my chance

 

I know I’ve had my chance (missing you… missing you, babe)

I know I’ve had my chance

I know I’ve had my chance

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