“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.
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9 thoughts on ““Le Grand Chapeau”

  1. I think that’s spot on.

    Lid – Common terminology used in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States to describe approximately one ounce of marijuana.

    “Let’s go score a lid, man.”
    – Cheech and Chong’s “Up In Smoke”

    Some also say, “Put a helmet on that soldier before going into battle”, meaning putting on a condom before sex, but lid is less of a stretch for a goofy grin from a good guy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Donna, you made me laugh 😀
    You should have asked me, I knew straight away what he meant with the cheeky comment, it was an expression used in some circles and the way Benjamin delivered it, you could tell he was being mischievous but what gets me , the radio interviewer sounds as if he does not get it 🙂
    Warmest regards,
    Tia

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I live in So Cal where Bob Coburn was on 95.5 KLOS and heard that interview a few times (they play repeats now that Mr. Coburn has passed away). I also never knew what Benjamin was talking about, and thought he thought the caller asked a dumb question and was just giving a flippant reply.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Hahaha — yes, a definite possibility!

        I enjoy Bob’s interviews so much. I’m sure there are more of them out there that I would love, and some I’ve heard that I wish I had clearer audio. I’ll have to check out their website and see if I am able to access some of those gems. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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