About Benjamin and the Rock Hall

audience
Benjamin at Live Aid, 1985

Today they announced that The Cars would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the “Class of 2018.”

I’ve been anticipating it, of course; it’s been on my mind for months. I’m not very well versed on all the ins and outs of the Rock Hall in general; never paid a whole lot of attention over the years because I like what I like and don’t really care what awards my favorites garner. When I joined The Cars world it became a ‘thing’ for me to put on the watchlist, because the guys were eligible in 2003 and nominated in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and as fans we wanted them IN. So I researched a bit; tried to figure out how it mattered overall, and how much it mattered to me. I love the band and I believe they deserve to have their name on that roster, for those who think the roster is important. But really…

Whenever anything with the band happens, a lot of my heart celebrates and gets so happy and excited, but I also get so achy, thinking of you and knowing you’re gone and unable to put your living fingerprint on all of this. Benjamin, would you care? If you were still here, how much would it matter to you? That’s what I keep thinking about… and so I speculate and ponder and take my best guesses about how you would feel.

People talk about what a private person you were. Shy and reserved offstage, somewhat of a ‘closed book’ about your innermost thoughts and feelings. Genuinely humble and unpretentious; able to separate yourself from your rockstar life. I think about you off in the woods, fishing and hunting, or out on your boat, breathing in the tangy air. Your quiet, solitary pursuits… but that wasn’t all of who you were.

You were a Cleveland native. You loved your city and your hometown fans; your loyalty was obvious and enduring. And you are adored and respected by your town. What a delight it would have been for you to come home, triumphant! The enthusiastic celebrations in your honor would have pleased you very much and overwhelmed your humble heart, I think.

From your youngest days you were making music, but it wasn’t enough to just play it, you wanted others to hear it. You dropped out of high school to pursue your dreams, leaving your home and relationships behind in the quest for that break through… for the opportunity to find an outlet for your talent. Your abilities were all over the board: that voice that could move mountains, those talented hands. You played drums, rhythm guitar, bass, keyboards… you did whatever it took to be on the stage. There was music in you that needed to get out.

And there was a performer’s soul in you that needed your essence to be heard.

You loved touring; being on the road. You put your heart into your shows, and you made time to connect with your fans. You played right up until a week before your death, until your body said ‘no more.’ You went out doing what you loved to do.

To be recognized by a large group of your peers, after all of these years, for your influence on music history and the part you played in the legacy of rock and roll… I think you would have loved it. I can just see your humble smile, with that little air of surprise and delight. I can imagine the deep satisfaction radiating from you. Ah Benjamin, how I would love for you to be here! To have one more moment in the sun before it sets on The Cars.

Seeing the induction will be bittersweet, Benjamin. Your name will be mentioned, and lots of attention drawn to your amazing talents and irreplaceable contributions; with any luck your voice will ring out over the crowd. I will be so happy that the world will have their eyes and ears on your music, just how you liked it.

If only…

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7 thoughts on “About Benjamin and the Rock Hall

  1. a beautiful letter to Benjamin, spj.
    I don’t know how he would have felt about getting in.
    I think what was most important to Ben may have been being known and remembered for being in The Cars and being the man who shot them all into the stratosphere of music.
    I think maybe that’s what was especially important to him, while he was alive.
    Because after The Cars, one could see something different behind his eyes, in his face and demeanor. A sort of shell-shocked look. An air of sadness born of acquired wisdom at the place he found himself. He sure was a beautiful human being, though and produced some fine music that seemed to be expressive of that place. It was authentic and some of it felt personal to him and his perspective..
    Sorry to get all sentimental and be a party-poopah.
    Benjamin brings out the pensive side of me.
    He’d have probably been gracious and humble, stood in the back with El, David, and Greg while Ric O gave his acceptance speech.
    Wow, that makes me excited wondering WHO will be the person speaking the usually moving introductory bio, prior the official recognition. It will have to be somebody who practically worshipped The Cars, recognizing them in a manner doing justice to legions of fans who’ve been on board for such a long time and someone cognizant of their indelible mark in music history.
    Hmm, who will that person be??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. also, D ~
    You may already have seen but rollingstone.com interviewed Ric (last night/) and posted the content of a phone interview today (12/13/2017) asking Ric about his reaction to getting into the HoF.
    Sounds like he’s had Ben on his mind a lot since Benjamin died.
    He said more than I’ve ever heard from him on Benjamin.
    Andy Greene asked, in the interview posted 4 hours ago (3 PM EST)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Do you think about Ben a lot?
    He was certainly my closest friend. He was in every band I ever had. It was a pretty close relationship. He crosses my mind a lot. I certainly see pictures of him around or I hear his voice. It’s funny, for some of these re-release things we would find some alternative cuts or things. I’d find demos or recordings where Ben and I played acoustically at Cambridge, Massachusetts, those clubs around Harvard. It was just him and I. They were kind of great. Every time I heard him sing on anything, whether it was a demo or a living room, it always sounded amazing. I could never get over how great his voice was, at least to me. So yeah, I think about him. Unfortunately, there were a lot of artists I was close to we lost in the past couple of years, Alan Vega and a bunch … I guess time rolls on.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    It’s a good little phone interview packed w/ good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. I hope the last paragraph comes true as, to me, he always seems to be forgotten as if he were just some bass player.

    From what I’ve read about him I do think he would be an honored to be recognized by his peers, as most anyone would want but he didn’t seem the type to really need nor care about what the “cool people” think. I live in Cleveland the whole RRHOF thing is so political that I don’t have high regard for it. That said, I am still so very happy they are going to be inducted as to my mind it gives them (RRHOF) a bit more credibility. Better late than never.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. SPJ, I love your way of thinking, your representation and your passion toward Benjamin and The Cars. I bet Benjamin would be modestly overjoyed and gratified to be inducted. I have to believe the induction would be heartwarming to Benjamin, just as your postings would be heartwarming to him! Congratulations to The Cars, very happy for them and their loyal fans. SPJ, keep your beautiful Benjamin blog alive.

    Liked by 1 person

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