Episode 41: Album Dissections: Heartbeat City

Time to return to our in-depth analysis of The Cars’ discography, and here we are at their fifth album, Heartbeat City!episode 41

First stop, though: a bit of a follow-up to the activities of the Orrbots (the topic of Episode 37), some possible explanations for photos of Benjamin wearing an eye patch, and Dave finally wins the ‘suck’ or ‘slug’ controversy about the true lyrics to “Cruiser” with an audio clip debunking Donna’s assertion once and for all (…or does he?).

RTB Obi
Obi Roy Kenobi. Graphic by @night_spots

Now, on with the topic at hand. New information about Roy Thomas Baker’s activities in the early 80s leads into some speculation (real… or not real?) about the possible reasons he wasn’t available to continue working with The Cars when they were ready to jump into the studio for HBC. And jump in, they did!

Donna lays out some of the technical details of this record, which might be the best performing album The Cars ever released, and the two discuss how the band’s sound evolved in the hands of producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Everything with Heartbeat City was BIGGER… but does bigger always mean better? Dave and Donna examine that question based on background vocals, the method of recording the drums, illuminating the synthesizers versus guitar, contemplating Benjamin’s contribution, and the effect the videos had on the band’s internal and external success.

Image result for kenny loggins top gunSprinkled throughout are other ponderings: How did the recording process for this album affect the band’s relationships? Is “I Refuse” forgettable? Will Elliot Easton ever be on our podcast? In the video for “Drive,” are those wax figures or the real guys? And while we’re at it, who was actually on the stage during the SNL performance of “Drive”? And possibly the most pressing question… Is Kenny Loggins the slut of movie scores???

Dave does remarkably well engaging in the conversation considering he is dealing with a migraine and the meds that accompany it, which may account for why he is unimpressed with Donna’s use of the phrase, “It’s all I can poo.” The show closes with the Midnight Scroll and an explanation of Fair Use copyright law as told by our old pal Rico.

Take a minute to contact us! There are plenty of ways to get in touch with NiGHT THOUGHTS:

  1. Follow the podcast on Twitter! @TheCarsPodcast. If you’re looking for the hosts individually, Dave goes by @night_spots and Donna is @sweetpurplejune.
  2. Join the action on Facebook:  http://www.facebook/groups/nightthoughtspodcast/. Lots of fun stuff going on over there!
  3. Drop us a line for the Midnight Scroll! Send it to nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We love to get mail!
  4. Subscribe and write a review of the show on iTunes: bit.do/itunesnightthoughts
  5. Take a listen through Soundcloud: bit.do/soundcloudnightthoughts
  6. And of course… Youtube! Subscribe and comment –we love it! bit.do/nightthoughts

Click here to enjoy the episode!

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Episode 40: Kirk Johnston!

episode 40The week’s podcast gets an extra shot of rock and roll with our very special guest, Mr. Kirk Johnston! Kirk has long been known in the Fanorama as a highly talented vocalist and bass player. He is beloved for his album, Full Circle, featuring beautiful versions of some of Benjamin Orr’s best known songs. He further won the hearts of fans with his generous work for the Pancreatic Cancer Foundation in Benjamin’s name.

In this episode, Dave and Donna explore Kirk’s musical background, when he got hooked on The Cars, and how Benjamin Orr shaped and influenced the course of Kirk’s musical career. Kirk gives Ben all the credit for stretching the boundaries of Kirk’s talent, from pushing him to be a better bassist to teaching him to sing, to being the compass guiding Kirk toward a radical change in his sound.

full circleFrom there they dive into the making of the Full Circle EP and its progressive expansion, covering aspects like:

  1. what the neighbors heard during the recording process
  2. how to NOT sound like Benjamin Orr
  3. getting permission to cover those iconic songs
  4. creating unique videos
  5. the gentle fingerprints of his wife, Kari

With Kirk currently remastering and re-releasing music from his career with the hard-rocking Texas band Snowblind Revival, Dave and Donna walk him through the rollercoaster of the group’s heyday and what led to bringing the music back in 2018.

Featuring the late Dennis Clevenger on vocals, drummer Wes Korner,  bassist Nathan de los Santos, and Kirk on lead guitar, the four friends went from high school jam sessions to playing gigs all across the United States. After being on the verge of a record deal that was never realized, the band imploded and relationships fell apart. Kirk shares how amends were made, the tragedy of Dennis’s early death, and some of the parallels between Dennis’s story and Benjamin Orr.

snowblind

Never one to do a project without a heartfelt purpose, Kirk explains his motivation for releasing this music now: to offer help and healing to those struggling with thoughts of hopelessness, and to solidify a creative and financial legacy for Dennis’s young son.

We highly encourage you to check out Snowblind Revival’s incredible music, watch videos of their performance, and support Kirk’s vision by visiting www.snowblindrevival.com. And be sure to follow Kirk and the Snowblind Revival project on Twitter, too!

The episode closes out with Kirk’s amazing version of Benjamin’s hit, “Stay the Night,” showcasing a swaying tropical sound and a little Texas flair.

Don’t forget… 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!

Don’t wait another minute to get to know Kirk. Click below and enjoy!

Episode 39: Name That Cars Tune

EP39Dave and Donna ‘get in the game’ with a twist on an old musical favorite. Using Lyrics and Prose by Ric Ocasek, the two take turns quizzing each other on their knowledge of Cars lyrics… and both find that it’s harder than ‘you might think!’ [Yep, I said that.]

For some added mental strain (and a healthy dose of badassery), Donna puts Dave through his paces with the first ever “Ric Riff Challenge.” Using some VERY cool audio clips of The Cars’ rhythm guitar parts performed by the talented Ben Fields, Dave attempts to identify just exactly what it is Ric does in a Cars song. As it turns out? He plays some pretty cool stuff!

And about those riffs, let’s all extend a hearty “thank you!!” to the members of Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band! It was their drummer, Alan, who first suggested the game to Donna and stumped her with guitarist Ben’s rocking recordings.  He then graciously granted permission for her to share them with Dave, and generously provided all of the audio files and the answer sheet for her to share. On top of all of that? They rock! Be sure to like their Facebook page and let them know you enjoyed their participation in the podcast!

The ultimate challenge in the show comes when Dave presents Donna with a four-song Cars mash-up and asks her to pick out the individual titles. It sounds sooo wild! Can you name them all?

honey-1089508_960_720.jpgThe Midnight Scroll puts us in touch with Superfan B.B., Pirate Steeb, and the sweet Miss Liz from ‘across the water.’ Rico writes in with his questions about the forthcoming biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, which leads into a discussion of an audio book format and speculations about Benjamin’s possible sugar addiction. The episode plays out with Drive: The Colorado Cars Tribute Band’s version of “Cruiser.” Love it!

Don’t forget… 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 — we’d love to hear from you!

And now… are YOU ready to play? Click below and enjoy!

Episode 38: Album Dissections: Shake It Up

EP38“Dance all night… go go go!”

It’s time for Dave and Donna to pull apart The Cars’ fourth album, Shake it Up. Loved by many and a big success for the band (the title track became their first Top 10 single), this album also represents a departure from the heavier ‘rock’ emphasis of their earlier music — at least, as far as Donna is concerned. The two take a close look at the shifts and nuances that moved The Cars into a new realm of creativity.

There is SO much packed into this episode! Things you never knew about Alberto Vargas’ early career, insights into the odd recording style at Syncro Sound, and Dave’s attempt to answer the “slug” lyric challenge (which is always on the table, by the way). They also wind their way around the ins and outs of the background vocals and the little ‘sneak peek’ threads of Heartbeat City woven through this album.

And then the questions…

  1. Do the underwater sounds of “Since You’re Gone” make for a good album opener?
  2. Would Ben have handled “A Dream Away” better than Ric?
  3. Should “A Dream Away” have meshed with “It Could Be Love”?
  4. What was Benjamin’s true comfort zone during their Friday’s performance of “Think It Over”?
  5. Does anyone have a ‘shaker pin’ available for a reasonable price???

And that’s not even all of it! Tune in to find out how in the world they get to talking about Ben in a leather rabbit suit, recommendations for Dante Tomaselli’s doorbell, line dancing to “Victim of Love,” and Donna pressuring Dave to get a full sleeve of tattoos. Lots of fun and frolic to be found in this episode!

Don’t forget… 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 — we’d love to hear from you!

Grab your headphones and dive into Episode 38 — don’t let nothing get in your way!

Episode 37: ORRbots, ORRbs, ORR Not?

ep37If you’ve listened to this show for any length of time, you know that the NiGHT THOUGHTS podcast is all about having fun diving deep into anything and everything ‘The Cars’ and discussing it with a moderate degree of intelligence, a generous helping of humor, and a bit of unavoidable immaturity. This episode is a little different, though…

After careful consideration, Dave and Donna revisit the tough topic of the fanaticism that snakes its way through the Benjamin Orr fanbase. The intent is not to target individuals, but to call out behaviors that cast a pall on fan group dynamics: words and actions that hurt innocent members and dishonor Ben’s legacy.

They make it clear they are not discussing the average fan; it goes beyond that. Dave and Donna take a look at embellished authority and acquaintance, fake romances, and excessive spirit-world experiences. They also examine the possible reasons why this sort of thing is even an issue. While they handle this dark discussion with the respect and sobriety it deserves, they do throw in a little humor here and there to break the tension.

Dave also offers a sincere invitation to anyone who has a struggle with this topic (either good or bad, especially if you feel like it is YOU that is being talked about) to let him know directly. If you’d like, he will arrange for you to come on NiGHT THOUGHTS as a guest to discuss your side of the issues at hand. Use any of the links below to make your thoughts known:

  1. Find us on Facebook.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @TheCarsPodcast  (individually we’re @night_spots  and  @sweetpurplejune ).
  3. Connect with us via our audio outlets: Youtube (at the link below), iTunes or Soundcloud.
  4. Email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com.

As always, wherever you connect with us, be sure to subscribe, share and comment.

The show closes with an optimistic letter on the Midnight Scroll, and Dave and Donna both look forward to returning to their usual ‘podcast shenanigans’ for their next recording: a dissection of The Cars’ fourth album, Shake It Up.

Until then, grab a cup of coffee and brace yourself for a visit to the dark side.

Episode 36: Album Dissections: Panorama

episode36

The non-scientific studies continue as Dave and Donna tackle their third album dissection. Considered by some to be the ‘dark horse’ of The Cars’ varied catalog, Panorama offers an intriguing look into a band that has not only managed to stay relevant for 40 years, but to stay true to themselves, as well.

Following their usual protocol, Dave and Donna start with facts and visual observations abour the album, and then dive into the meat of it, layer by layer, investigating what the critics didn’t like about it — and if those opinions were really justified. Because really, how can you NOT love this album? Even John Lennon was a fan, and after all, this record saved ‘teenage Davy’ from a pummeling by a disgruntled ex-boyfriend (“Panorama makes peace!”). And you’ve got Benjamin laughing, Ric screaming, and video game noises before there were video games. This record has it all!

What do you think? Is David physically playing those relentless cymbals in “Panorama” or is it a drum machine? Do you think Benjamin is a natural vocal ad-libber? Is Panorama a self-centered album lyrically? How in the world did “Don’t Go To Pieces” NOT make the track list? Are Ric’s younger years reflected in “Misfit Kid?” Which song off of this album would YOU choose to be your personal ‘grand entrance’ soundtrack?

bufordThere are other shenanigans worked into this episode, too. Dave compares Donna to Buford T. Justice from Smokey and The Bandit, causing her to explain why she censors herself verbally. There’s a plug for the hilarious film Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars, written by David Juskow — don’t forget to like that Turbocharge Facebook page! Another great film (and just in time for Halloween!) is Dante Tomaselli’s re-released horror masterpiece, Desecration. Warning: it’s not for the faint of heart! Dave and Donna wrap up the show on a light note as two sweet friends send their thoughts to the Midnight Scroll, and Rico delights us with an inspired poem contemplating the holy depiction of the members of the band.

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!

Enjoy!

Episode 35: Turbocharge!

This episode has been on the bucket list for a loooong time, covering a topic we weren’t sure would ever be fully explored! But 2018 continues to be “The Year of The Cars” in all sorts of crazy and unexpected ways!

my writing at the rrhofIt kicks off with Dave giving an update on his recent trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “Cars Car-ma” swooped in and made it possible for Dave to attend a special listening party of The Cars Live at The Agora 1978 in the Foster Theater, and what he reveals to Donna prompts her to utter her first swear words on the show ever!

Once she recovers herself, Dave and Donna dive into the details of the elusive-but-highly-sought-after film Turbocharge: The Unauthorized Story of The Cars. Created by comedian David Juskow back in 2008, the film has been sitting on a shelf… until recently. Dave got it in his bonnet to convince Juskow to make it available to the Fanorama. Juskow was gracious enough to allow Dave and Donna a private screening, and to give them permission to podcast about it and promote the film while he figures out how and when he’s going to release it (hopefully SOON).

ep35aDave and Donna go over the background, plot, cast list, and highlights of this hilarious film, while doing their best not to spoil anything for future viewers. They also discuss the amazing and varied roster of musical artists that contributed to the soundtrack. Truly, this movie is just so funny, and SO relevant to the Cars’ fandom, that we want everyone to be able to view it! To show your support for getting it released, please like Dave’s Turbocharge Facebook page. Follow this link:

 fb.me/turbochargethemovie

Heck, you can even tweet to David Juskow and let him know you’re eager to get your hands on it! Hit him up at @davejuskow and give him the word. While you’re there, follow him and listen to his podcast. He’s pretty funny. 😉

The episode closes out with the Midnight Scroll, where

  1. David gets challenged to a Gilligan’s Island trivia showdown by sweet Sherry through the blog,
  2. Superfan Judi gives some love to Katrina’s rocking band, The Debutantes,
  3. new listener Donna connects Panorama with West Side Story,
  4. and faithful friend of the show B.B. shares some Ric-esque new lyrics. Fun, fun!

You can be on the Scroll, too — contact us! There are plenty of ways to get in touch with NiGHT THOUGHTS:

  1. Follow the podcast on Twitter! @TheCarsPodcast. If you’re looking for the hosts individually, Dave goes by @night_spots and Donna is @sweetpurplejune.
  2. Join the action on Facebook:  http://www.facebook/groups/nightthoughtspodcast/. Lots of fun stuff going on over there!
  3. Drop us a line for the Midnight Scroll! Send it to nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com. We love to get mail!
  4. Subscribe and write a review of the show on iTunes: bit.do/itunesnightthoughts
  5. Take a listen through Soundcloud: bit.do/soundcloudnightthoughts
  6. And of course… youtube! Subscribe and comment –we love it! bit.do/nightthoughts

Enjoy —

and don’t forget to LIKE that Turbocharge page on Facebook! fb.me/turbochargethemovie.