Episode 43: “Let’s Go!” with Joe, Part 1

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An early copy of the Let’s Go! manuscript. Photo courtesy of spj.

After eleven long years, the wait is finally over! Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, the first-ever biography of Ben — or any of the Cars’ members, for that matter — was published on November 11, 2018. Now that the fans have the joy of holding the finished product in their hands, your Night Thoughts co-hosts are eager to take a look inside!

Dave and Donna kick off this first installment in the two-part series by zeroing in on the first seven chapters of the book, discussing Ben’s childhood, his early band experiences and teen celebrity, his time in the military, meeting Ric, the Milkwood mess, the formation of Cap’n Swing, and the coming together of the five men that would eventually join forces to become The Cars.

The two share the parts that made them laugh, that connected some dots, and that were just downright COOL. Having had the privilege of working intimately with author Joe Milliken over the last year as he prepared the book to cross the finish line, Donna is now able to give insight into some of the ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the publishing process, as well.

**SPOILER ALERT This episode gets pretty specific at times, revealing details and quotes from the book. If you haven’t read it yet, it will either tick you off or tantalize you further… only you can decide how you might react. Pod wisely, people!**

Next up is the Midnight Scroll, which includes some great feedback from our friends Grace Geek and B.B. on the Door to Door dissection episode. There’s also a letter from our old pal Rico, who, inspired by Joe’s book, has decided to write his own story of how he came to cross paths with NiGHT THOUGHTS, and sends us all the details in his email.

The podcast then moves into the first half of a recorded interview between Donna and the Let’s Go! author himself, Joe Milliken. (Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented Dave from being able to join the chat.) The two spend some time talking about the ins and outs of Joe’s writing process and how critical the “Cleveland Connection” was to his success. From there they go deeper into Benjamin’s life, and Joe is generous with details that go beyond the book. Their candid conversation covers topics like:

  1. Ben’s relationship with his parents and the Mayers
  2. the strength of Ben’s independent nature
  3. getting the significant women in Ben’s life involved in the book
  4. Diane’s statements about Ben’s moods
  5. Ben’s interest in guns

The second half of Donna’s interview with Joe will be included in Episode 44, when Dave and Donna finish up their in-depth review of this terrific book — coming very soon! Until then…

Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. You can also email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. Let us know your thoughts — we’d love to hear from you!

Okay, are you ready? Let’s GO!

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Quoting Benjamin

On why The Cars closed Syncro Sound: “We closed it down because the machinery, uh, state of the art machinery is quite expensive and it’s real hard for up-and-coming musicians to afford something like that unless there’s a record deal, and record companies weren’t in abundance in this town. So, it was difficult for us. It was a case of losing more money a year, you know, than trying to keep up with the tech stuff that we had to. We had three full-time techs there and it was a monetary decision.” ~ interview with A.J. Wachtel of The Beat, October 1987

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Episode 42: Album Dissections: Door to Door

Image result for door to door the carsLet’s face it, Cars fans are all over the board when it comes to their opinions of Door to Door, the sixth and final offering put out by the full band lineup. In fact, Donna has a history of poo-pooing this record (Dave loves it!), but for this episode she has spent a week listening to almost nothing else, with interesting results.

They start with the usual run down of the album stats, and then they lay the foundation for some deeper analysis. The unique dynamics of the band’s imminent break up cannot be ignored, as hindsight allows us to take a look at this bit of musical history through different lenses. And then of course you have Ric in the producer’s chair and the inclusion of a couple of songs from the early 70s, and the effect that those decisions had on the overall sound of the final product are worth ferreting out.

  1. Was Ric already ‘done’ with The Cars at the time they recorded this album?
  2. Can you tell that the band itself was not operating as a cohesive unit?
  3. Did any of these songs rightfully belong on solo albums?
  4. Is the album flat? Overproduced? Tired?
  5. How much Mutt influence is still present?
  6. And those background vocals: on target or totally off track?
  7. Where was Roy Thomas Baker?
  8. Will there be an expanded edition of Door to Door?
  9. Are the band members embarrassed by this album?

Dave and Donna weave their own varying opinions of each song with observations about the accompanying videos, the increasing focus on Ric, the balance of Ric and Ben’s vocal work, and the fluctuating musical presence of the other guys. They also discuss Diane Gray Page and what role, if any, she may have played in the tensions during that time.

Like the overall response in the Fanorama, Door to Door has the effect of sending Dave and Donna all over the spectrum when it comes to lining up their personal reactions. Throughout the discussion the two jump between taking each other by surprise, being totally on the same page, and flat out disagreeing with each other. But they are definitely keeping it real!

Friend of the podcast Alan Fields (from Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band) writes a letter for The Midnight Scroll and it’s a doozy! He provides some amazing insights into the recording and mixing of Heartbeat City that give us some new food for thought, including the wild question: is there an entire ‘Mutt mix’ alternate version of HBC out there in the vault? Wow! Wouldn’t that be something?!

Now don’t forget… We want to connect with you! Find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ), and subscribe to our audio outlets! You can listen by clicking the Youtube link below, or visit us on iTunes or Soundcloud. Wherever you connect, be sure to subscribe, share and comment. Let us know your thoughts — email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Don’t wait another minute… dive in!

Lyrics: Hold On

Hold On* (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1985)

[Disclaimer: I gave myself some room on this one. The words are hard to discern and the other published attempts I’ve read don’t really hit the mark to me, so just know that I’ve written what I’m hearing and it may not be perfect.]

Well you sure look good tonight, I think I’ve come to see some light

Come on, hold onto me… belong to me

You know that love looks good on you, in what you say and what you do

Come on, hold onto me… it’s all I need

 

I’d gotten to the point where time was plowing by

Not a thing to show for all the times I’ve tried

Now we just can’t seem to wipe the smile away and you gave it to me

Given up on feeling something beautiful

Loneliness was starting to be suitable to me

Lucky day I found when you got into us

 

Can’t seem to get enough of you, when you’re away I dream that you

Come on and hold onto me, belong to me

And so it never really ends, you mend the hurts that never mend

Come on, hold on to me, it’s all I need

 

Where did all what I had in mind run for me?**

Guess you gotta take the blinders off so you can see

Not a thought goes by that doesn’t hang on you and what did I do before?

Can’t believe that this is really happening

All the hurtful days are finally vanishing

Making all your fantasies realities

 

We could be in for some surprises; I know it… you know it, too

Before you think of compromising just realize it’s only here for you

 

Yeah you sure look good tonight, I think I’ve finally seen some light

Come on, hold onto me… it’s all I need

And so it never really ends, you mend the hurts that never mend

Come on and hold onto me, belong to me

 

Gotta knack for bringing out the best to me

When the love is right it’s possible to see you so clearly

All my life I wondered would it come to me then you brought it to me

Can’t believe that this is really happening, all the hurtful days are finally vanishing

Making all your fantasies realities

 

Where did all what I had in mind run for me?**

Guess you gotta take the blinders off so you can see

Not a thought comes by that doesn’t hang on you and what did I do before?

 

*Original title: “Belong to Me”

** Help!