Benjamin: Lead Vocal List

C’mon, do I even need to say it? Benjamin’s voice is… everything.

Beautiful to the ears. Wonderful in vocal range. He opens his mouth and easily creates those lilting harmonies, or those deep warm tones.  Dramatic, melodic, seductive. Full of disdain or smoldering with emotion. Exuding confidence. Descending and weaving and pressing close…

I could go on and on, gushing about the mellifluous sounds that come out of that man, but I promised myself I wouldn’t. This is supposed to be just straightforward research. As you know, I love to have my little rows of facts and dates and figures; they make me so happy. Pulling data together and organizing it into a meaningful, structured presentation gives me a geeky thrill.

I’m a nerd… I know this.

So I decided I wanted to see a list of all of the songs Benjamin sang in his far-too-short career. Typing it into a single column in chronological order triggered a bout of pinball-machine-analysis and deep, varied speculations, but I’ll keep those to myself for now. And as satisfying as it was for me to see the list in a simple Word doc, I decided to stretch myself into the world of designing ‘infographics’ with this article. Bear with me, they are a little basic, but I wanted to add some color.

(And did you like my title? “Vocal List”… “vocalist”… see what I did there? Haha. Okay, okay… moving on…)

Before we dive in… some little disclaimers:

  1. This blog post is a work in progress.
  2. During the Milkwood and Ocasek & Orr years with Ric, the two harmonized and shared vocals so often that I decided not to list every single song they recorded, but instead only listed the ones where Benjamin handles the lion’s share of the vocals.
  3. I believe Ocasek & Orr recorded a version of “Start It All Again,” and I have always assumed that Benjamin sang the lead on it (as he did with Cap’n Swing), but I didn’t list it under O&O since I’ve not actually heard that version (but boy, would I love to!).
  4. I understand that Benjamin did some background vocals for other artists, but I haven’t been diligent about making notes when I come across that information. I’ll start a file to collect those notes, so hit me up with links, please and thank you.
  5. And again, I am only listing songs where he sang lead or the majority of the vocals…
  6. …except for “Since I Held You” and “You Are The Girl.” Wikipedia gave Benjamin a shared vocal credit on those, so I added them, too.
  7. I’ve only addressed songs that I’ve actually heard or can otherwise verify the existence of, but as always, I obviously don’t know everything. If I’m missing information PLEASE let me know!

And we’re off!




** Update July 26, 2018: Added two songs to The Grasshoppers and the songs recorded by The Mixed Emotions (recently discovered through ebay). Also updated The Cars’ demos column to include “Midnight Dancer” and the demo recording of “Shake It Up” from the expanded edition of Shake It Up, released in 2018.

**Update August 18, 2018: Added “When You Gonna Lay Me Down” to The Cars — a song I somehow forgot to list. Thanks so much to my dear research-nerd-twin, JMW, for the catch!

**Update October 5, 2018: Added “I Know I’ve Had My Chance” to Cap’n Swing. Made available for sale by Glenn Evans in April, 2018; apparently recorded on August 28, 1975.

**Update June 17, 2019: Added “You Wanna Man” (written by John Gardina, sung by Ben) and “Julie Ann” (written and sung by Ben) to The Mixed Emotions. “Julie Ann” was performed and recorded with The Mixed Emotions at some point, and then apparently recorded again at Cleveland Recording Studio in November of 1969 while Ben and Ric were playing as Leatherwood.

**Update October 4, 2020: Added a circle for Leatherwood with “Falling Suitcases” and “Julie Ann” from 1969.


28 thoughts on “Benjamin: Lead Vocal List

  1. I recently read an interview with Ric. He talked about when he met Ben and how Ben had gone to see Ric’s band at a bar some where in Boston. The two of them got talking and Ben told Ric about all the instruments he could play and that he also could sing. Ric invited Ben to his house so he could hear Ben sing. Ric explained to the interviewer that Ben sang the Beatles, Yesterday. He also told the interviewer that Ben sang in the sweetest voice he had ever heard. no doubt! Most likely never being able to hear that recording, if Ric even recorded it, God only knows why he would not have, but anyway I can only close my eyes and imagine how amazing it must have been to hear Ben sing that beautiful song in his, as we all know, beautiful voice. I love so much the cover of the Buddy Holy song “Every day” that Ben and Ric did together. Ben’s voice in that song is the sweetest thing my ears have ever heard. makes me tear up most of the time when I listen to it because thinking of watching him sing it, and that voice, is more than just a mere mortal woman can take.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes… it would be so incredible to hear! And to hear it AND see it? I agree; I’m not sure I could bear it. “Everyday” is one of my favorites, too, along with “Never Gonna Get Over You,” recorded at the same time. So, so sweet.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Got ’em…. I put those two under the ‘demos and b-sides’ list. I hadn’t thought about using the graphic for the book page. Other than writing about it as I normally would (interviewing Joe and reviewing it once publication gets closer), I try to keep my blog separate from the book activities. Maybe I’ll ask Joe what he thinks about the idea….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have not heard the Cap’n Swing song Magic Pants, but, erm, Benjamin in those red trousers he wore on occasion? I’d call those magic pants alright! E-hem… anyway… the songtitle “Even Angels Fall” triggered an immediate connect to that other hot deceased singer in my life, David McComb, who wrote a song called “Don’t Call Yourself an Angel” which was recorded with his post-Triffids band, The Blackeyed Susans, as well as a song named “Home for Fallen Angels” that appeared on a solo EP. Or to put it in Dirk Gently’s words: everything is connected. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. One of the rare occasions Dave sang lead in the Susans. Most of the heavy lifting has always gone to Rob Snarski, often described as “honey-voiced” whenever the Susans happen to perform or he happens to release an album. Glad you enjoy the song.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for putting this list together because I was having trouble distinguishing what was Ben and what was Ric! I’ve become a recent Cars fan even though the band has been in my consciousness for almost 25 years as my husband is a huge fan. I was a little slow on the uptake I guess!

    Do Ben and Ric share the singing on It’s Not the Night? The majority of it is Ben, but there is one small part that Ric sings I believe. I think this song showcases Ben Orr’s voice at its absolute finest, and that is saying a lot because he is so good on everything.

    Liked by 1 person

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