It reminds me of him.

This song by 38 Special is wrapped around many of my fantasies of Benjamin. Words he says to me, words I say to him. How I dream I changed his life… the overall feeling; the memories it invokes of my early years… And to have Benjamin play it during his time with Big People is just icing on the cake.

Here is footage of Big People performing this terrific song. Benjamin gives a charming little intro… and can I just tell you that there is the most beautiful, lingering camera pan of Benjamin at 0:52? I about DIED.

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In other words:

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Photo courtesy of Chris Kamburoff

“He would just walk into a room and everyone would stop talking. Chicks would just come up to him. We used to joke about Benny always having a box full of engagement rings for all the women he’d meet.”  — Wayne Weston, former drummer and band mate from The Grasshoppers; The Plain Dealer, November 10, 2000.

(Text file retrieved from the “Benjamin Orr-The Legacy” Yahoo group, with permission.)

Quoting Benjamin

“I mean, if you’re playing in a band with someone you have to respect them for what they do and you can’t fight them at every corner. We get along pretty well I would imagine because we need to respect each other’s own background and their abilities, and you know if there’s a problem you have to file it under the right perspective, you know. You can’t let it blow out of shape. Okay, a problem, let’s take care of it but let’s do it so the band stays together because why not? Why shouldn’t the band stay together? And it’s working well for us so why cut your own throat? An ego is an ego, you know, and you can fortify your ego within a group if you really want to.” — Moving In Stereo: A History of The Cars, The Source radio show, April 1982

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Don’t Go To Pieces

What IS it with this song?

No matter what mood I’m in, this track meets me there. Giddy? It’s perfect for dancing. Lethargic? It makes me hyper. Sad? It cheers me up. Pissed off? It shakes its fist with me. I am so nuts about this tune and I feel like I can never get it deep enough into my system.

A few fast facts about today’s little gem. As expected, it was written by Ric Ocasek and produced by Roy Thomas Baker, and it is worthy of noting that Greg is credited on the copyright record for the music.  It first showed up when the single “Don’t Tell Me No” was released on November 10, 1980, from the Panorama album — “Don’t Go To Pieces” was the B-side. It made a second appearance as the B-side to “Gimme Some Slack,” released only a few months later, on January 5, 1981.

Having never shown up on an album (though I think it would have fit perfectly on Panorama) it was destined to fade into obscurity, but this terrific tune would not be forgotten; it found a place on Rhino Records’ 1995 compilation called, “Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology.” Hooray! This is how I got my hot little hands on it.

According to Wikipedia, one thing that makes this song unique is it includes rare backing vocals from Elliot and Greg. They jump in singing, “You can make the switch, you can have your wish,” followed by the band joining and singing the chorus “don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby.” (I confess I always assumed Elliot and Greg sang backing vocals so I didn’t realize it was a big deal. Learning something new every day!)

As for the song, itself…

Within the first seconds after pressing ‘play’ my feet are tapping. The music is so addictive: that driving bass line, that punky guitar. My shoulders are grooving and I’m grinning like I’m plotting evil. The lyrics are on the edge of meaningless and yet somehow so relatable… signature writing from Ric and it works, largely because Benjamin’s treatment of them knocks it out of the park. Can’t help but furrow my brow and curl my lip as I sing along. (You can find the lyrics in a separate post, if you need them. They are so snide!)

And that voice! Oooo, Benjamin’s voice is so full of sensuality and attitude; so sexily edgy and scornful. But when he cuts into that chorus there’s that little catch — almost a plead — that sends me flying high. How does he DO that? “It’s all so mystical.” And in spite of him telling me not to, I do, in fact, go to pieces nearly every.single.time. B-b-b-baby!

How I wish there was live footage of them performing this song! If you come across any, let me know. In the meantime, I found this wonderful fan video that is chock full of great Benjamin pics and is absolutely scrumptious. Enjoy!

 

Lyrics: Don’t Go To Pieces

Don’t Go To Pieces by The Cars

What’s it gonna be? Red jacket girl, lover, midnight spree

What’s it gonna be? You look so imperial

What’s it gonna be? You tried and you tried but you couldn’t hook your shoelace

What’s it gonna be? Know you got intention, difficult to see

You can make the switch… You can have your wish

 

What’s it gonna prove? Turning all the dials, making all the right moves

What’s it gonna prove? It’s all so mystical

What’s it gonna prove? You look so tacky in your chrome-drip belt

What’s it gonna prove? You’re ready to rage and starting to meltdown

You can make the switch… You can have your wish

 

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby, don’t go to pieces

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby, don’t go to pieces

 

What’s it gonna show? All left out and ready to go

What’s it gonna mean? You feel like trash but you look so clean

What’s it gonna do? All of them angels jealous of you

Where’s it gonna go? Anyplace, faster pace, overcome the low blow

You can make the switch… You can have your wish

 

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby, don’t go to pieces

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby, don’t go to pieces

 

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby, don’t go to pieces

Ooooh, don’t go to pieces

Ooooh, b-b-b- baby

Ooooh, don’t go to pieces

Ooooh, don’t go to pieces, b-b-b-baby

Ooooh, don’t go to pieces

Ooooh

In other words:

So how did it go and what about when Ben got sick?  “We did a tour opening for Styx and that went well until May of 2000. Ben was told he had pancreatic cancer and we lost him five months later. He was a trooper and when he got out of the hospital he said, “When I fall down and can’t pick myself up we’ll know it’s over. Until then- we rock!”

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We played that whole summer and it was awesome. He played with passion and fire and the shows we did were the best I can ever remember playing. I think we all played for each other – Ben for us and we for him and that is what made those shows so special. The band will sorely miss him.” — Jeff Carlisi, member of Big People and former guitarist for 38 Special; Swampland interview, October 2001.