Episode 45: The Cars Year in Review 2018

EP45“Twenty eighteen… probably the most exciting year we’ve had as fans since Move Like This came out.” ~ Mr. Steel Wool

Another year gone… can you believe it? And this one has been a doozy!  Dave and Donna are joined by dear friends of the show Kurt and Jenny as they revisit all of the amazing happenings in the Fanorama over the last 12 months.

Before they dive in, they quickly recap the latest news in The Cars world: the song “Let’s Go” shows up in the new Transformers movie Bumblebee, a guitar signed by the 2018 RRHOF inductees is up for bid, and Dave reads a sexy letter from Alberto Vargas congratulating Donna on her recently published Atlanta burger article.

From there they start to work through the 2018 calendar. The list of incredible milestones is long and luscious.

  1. The thrill of The Cars’ induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  2. The next installment of the expanded editions
  3. Chris Morris rocks the Fanorama with his incredible illustrations
  4. Reliving the glory of having Greg Hawkes on the podcast
  5. Ric Ocasek’s recent artistic activities
  6. Turbocharge comes to life… sort of…
  7. New audio files that surfaced from Cap’n Swing, The Grasshoppers, and Richard and the Rabbits
  8. Ben’s biography gets published

… And so much more!

Before they close out they attempt to answer the pressing questions: Anything new for 2019? Is there anything left? What can we expect?

You’re going to want to be sure to stay through to the end. This fun episode wraps up with a new recording of “the business” by vocal talent Elizabeth, followed by a Christmas song by our faithful and talented friend Brett Basil, who gives us his take on what it might have sounded like if The Cars ever did a Christmas song.

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!

Click below to join us in celebrating The Year of The Cars!

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Episode 44: “Let’s Go!” with Joe, Part 2

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The manuscript evolves into a book. Photo courtesy of spj.

One episode just wasn’t enough to cover all of the deliciousness of Joe Milliken’s long-awaited biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. So much more to explore!

Dave and Donna start the episode with speculations about some rumblings in the Fanorama with regard to how much of Ben’s life was revealed in the book and the issue of privacy. Could it be the difference between the male and female perspective with regard to the focus of the book? Take a listen and then tell us what you think.

From there they move right into the second half of Donna’s interview with Joe, talking candidly about topics like:

  1. the reality of Ben’s lyrical abilities
  2. some factors in the increasing tensions in The Cars
  3. was Diane the Yoko Ono of The Cars?
  4. Ben’s moodiness and the changes in his personality
  5. the possibility of a Cars reunion in the 90s
  6. the blessing and heartbreak of Big People
  7. the absence of Ric and Elliot from the book

After the interview ends Dave and Donna pick up the discussion and process the new insights from Joe before reopening the book. They jump into their dissection where they left off in Part 1, with the formation of The Cars, and move through to the end. Along the way they point out their favorite parts and speculate on some of the new information. You’ll have to excuse Donna’s gushing; between the photos, the stories, and the research tidbits, there’s just SO much to love in this book!

The show winds down with the reading of The Midnight scroll: long-time friend of the show Harold and sweet listener Donna E. chime in on the Door to Door dissection episode, while Superfan BB cracks wise with regard to the shenanigans from “Let’s Go! with Joe, Part 1.”

Now 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!

Okay, friends, grab your coffee and let’s go with Joe!

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!

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!

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?).

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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!

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.

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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!