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!

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It reminds me of him.

Bob Seger is definitely one of those artists I didn’t appreciate until later in my life. His achy lyrics fill me with longing for the innocence and freedom of those younger days… now that those younger days are a ways behind me.

Driving home in the dark tonight, I listened to this song over and over — particularly this second verse. I couldn’t help but think of Benjamin, and wonder if that is how he felt in the late 80s and early 90s, when things seemed to fall apart for him… when he disappeared for a while, and then started up with the Orr band… long before the joy of Big People and Julie.

Of course, I have no clue. Just another one of my speculations…

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“The years rolled slowly past and I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home, and I
Guess I lost my way… There were oh-so-many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed

Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searching…
Searching for shelter again and again”

 

— Bob Seger, “Against the Wind”

Writing in the real world!

The name Joe Milliken is familiar to most of you… he’s the guy who is writing a music biography about our wonderful Benjamin Orr. What you may NOT know is that he is also the publisher of his own website called Standing Room Only, a site dedicated to promoting music, arts, and specialty foods in the northern New England area. Music reviews, concert recaps, and exclusive interviews with badass rockers are the norm, along with lots of attention given to local businesses and arts events, making this a website with something for everyone.

Joe also runs “The Jock of Rock Presents” facebook page, providing a shot of rock and roll in your newsfeed, just when you need it.

Through our common interests of music, The Cars, and writing, I’ve become good friends with Joe over the last several months. And… I am thrilled and honored to announce that I have received an invitation from him to contribute to his site!  I am in the process of writing a series of album/CD reviews revolving around the recent re-issuing of The Cars’ classic back-catalog, which will be published soon. Not sure where we’ll go after that, but I am excited for the possibilities!

Not only that, but as his book gets closer to hitting the market, I will be involved in getting the word out through as many channels as possible. You can imagine the joy it gives me to have another way to promote Benjamin’s life and legacy in the world.

Please be sure to check out his website, and stay tuned for links to my contributions.