Quoting Benjamin

On writing lyrics for The Lace: “I didn’t have a lot of success. Lyrics are my weakest point. I don’t listen to a song for the first five or six times for the lyrics, I listen for the melody. Never really pay attention to the lyrics until after that point. [My desire was] to tell a story. Just something you would actually say to someone, rather than one line and then something clever to rhyme with it.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987


13 thoughts on “Quoting Benjamin

  1. As I’ve said to you before, I think he never gave himself enough credit for lyrics. “Pink Champagne” and “Lincoln Park” wouldn’t win any literary prizes, but they’re decent songs. You’ll agree that, like any art, writing gets better with practice. I’ve always suspected that, based on interview comments from both Ric and Diane, he didn’t get any encouragement to try to better his writing skills.

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    1. I think so too. There is nothing wrong with Pink Champagne and Lincoln Park. I think he was probably always a little insecure about lyric writing and instead of getting encouragement at certain critical junctures earlier on, he was discouraged, got the idea that he was just bad at them, overthought things and ended up basically getting writers block. Every time he mentions lyrics it sounds like he was setting such high standards for himself on them. Higher standards than many of the ones he sang that other people wrote.

      I can’t write anything for a hill of beans so I sympathize with that, but I’ve read a heck of a lot of lyrics in my time and there was nothing wrong with the ones we know Ben wrote. They were good enough and if he wrote more he’d most likely have turned into a really very good lyricist. I think Lincoln Park shows a nice eye for detail and a unique viewpoint.

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  2. Does anyone have a direct link to the interview? Also last night I was listening to the Lincoln Park song and I just like to listen to the album because it’s Benjamin’s voice and it’s beautiful. You can really hear how he sounded before he perfected his sound/style for The Cars. Also, did anyone catch the line-my white wolf dog Shawna Blue? Very interesting that he put his dogs name in his song. 😀 One last thing, I looked at the date of the album and realized that I was 1 years old when the Milkwood album came out in 1972. And when my sister got the very first car’s album and when my sister who was 12 or so got the very first Cars album (and also subsequent ones) I was 7! She was such a big fan and so was I at that age. I also remember seeing them with her on the Midnight Special and thinking oh my god Benjamin is so cute-I was little but even then I thought he was a cutie LOL! Fast forward into my junior high high school days and it was full on and he’s fast forward into my junior high high school days and it was oh man, he’s insanely talented with that voice and also he’s so hot! LOL Those Candy-O photos of him WOW! I Also saw them on Saturday night live when they did double trouble and I was like oh my God and then MTV with his releasealso saw them on Saturday night live when Benjamin sang Double Trouble-sexy as all hell in his leather & hair, I was like oh my God! Then with MTV and Drive-again that voice & face. Move on to Stay the Night video-heaven and Too Hot to Stop-straight up leather daddy again. Yes please! Say what you will about that video it’s all good with me. Everything is subjective. I just thought he was absolutely gorgeous in that video. He really couldn’t do any wrong because in my eyes his voice, presence and looks was everything. What a beautiful soul! He really was the ultimate package in a man who wasn’t perfect because nobody is but he really was a beautiful soul.

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    1. I was really happy when I found out Ben was a dog lover, as a dog lover myself(seriously if Ben himself had said to me–in my dreams obviously– “It’s either me or the dog!”, alas Ben would have been looking for a new home LOL) but didn’t know when I first read the lyrics to the song and thought it was cool when I found out the dog mentioned in the song was really his own(and that her name was Shauna).

      I sometimes wonder what his later dogs were named.

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    2. To Hot To Stop, Double Trouble, Stay the Night, Drive (Live Aid), and his live performances in all his blonde God glory! There will NEVER be anyone this hot again – I mean meltdown, scorching, inferno HOT! (and insanely talented)!

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  3. 😩 UGH! I was doing a combination of typing and talking into my microphone to make the comment above but somehow it doubled some of my sentences. I do really know how to speak and write. LOL So sorry! I was trying to proofread it before I sent it but I was having problems with the connection and sending.

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  4. I just found this new quote by Larry Klein, Ben’s producer on The Lace. I posted a link to the whole interview on two Ben Orr Facebook group sites. (I thought it gives new insight about Ben’s songwriting abilities.)

    “I produced this album with the great engineer, and my dear friend, Mike Shipley. Ben Orr was the lyrical voice of The Cars, and really had a distinctive voice as a songwriter. His voice as a writer was often eclipsed to some extent by his bandmate in The Cars, Ric Ocasek.

    There were similarities in their writing; both were prone to working with short and clipped phrasing, simple clarity in their harmonic language, and a somewhat skewed sensibility regarding simple matters pertaining to the human experience. I had loved the records that The Cars had made, as well as their voice as songwriters, for quite some time.”

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  5. I wish we knew but I can’t help but feel like he is in the lyrics somewhere because I don’t know, most of Ben’s songs seem to have something similar, lyrically, I can’t quite put my finger on it but they are somehow “Ben-ish”. 🙂 I don’t mean the subject matter more like a way of looking at the world if that makes any sense. So I feel like even if the other writer did the bulk of putting it into lyric form, he was there helping to shape the lyrics. When The Lace was discussed, it was mentioned in various interviews they did work on them together, they talked about what the lyrics would be about, I seem to recall Ben in one interview saying, for some of them, he had titles. Maybe Ben needed someone else doing the lyric writing in order to be able to get his own contributions out of his head. Like I said I suspect, on his own, he was given to overthinking things because he had somehow got the idea into his head he was a bad lyricist and couldn’t write and ended up giving himself a sort of writers block but talking it out and working with someone else maybe he was more able to get the ideas out because it was just like “well how about this” or “maybe this would work…” that kind of thing rather than “now I must sit down and write… lyrics::dun dun dundun::. 🙂

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