Tonight She Comes

I would guess that 1985 was a crazy year for The Cars.

They spent the last half of 1983 living in England while recording Heartbeat City. They toured pretty much from April through September of 1984 behind that album, and spent time shooting four videos and playing for MTV’s “A Private Affair.” On the surface, it might appear that The Cars had taken a well-justified break in 1985, only publicly performing at Live Aid in July of that year, but that was certainly not the case.

Closer inspection reveals that the members of the band were going gangbusters, creatively. Elliot had released his solo album and was touring behind it; surely Benjamin was writing and working on his; and Ric was definitely spending time in the studio with his second solo effort, This Side of Paradise (which Greg, Benjamin and Elliot all appear on!). And it was during this time that the decision was made to release a ‘greatest hits’ album.

Makes sense: the band’s popularity was riding high with five American Top 40 singles from Heartbeat City, the exposure from Live Aid (where “Drive” was used at the background music to an iconic video montage of images depicting the famine in Ethiopia), and claiming the honor of “Video of the Year” from MTV’s inaugural music awards. It was a perfect time to expose this 80s generation to the full scope of The Cars’ creative history.

greatesthitsfrontOn October 25, 1985, Elektra released The Cars Greatest Hits. It contained twelve songs (a nice sampling from across the band’s first five albums) including a remixed version of “I’m Not The One” from the Shake It Up album. Along with those, a previously unrecorded track was offered: an entirely new song, “Tonight She Comes.” Ric tells how it came about:

“The record company wanted a new track for the greatest hits album, and I was in the middle of recording my solo album, and it was one of the songs that I didn’t use in the solo album at that point, and we just did that single… Actually, I was in the studio upstairs doing the one record and then we had another one going downstairs at the same time. That was like a one-off single that we just all came together and did and it was quite fun to just go in and do it like that. And I like the video for that one because it was crazy.” – Up Close radio interview, August 26, 1987

Listening to Ric’s description, I envisioned the guys all showing up and jamming the song out in short order, like in the old days. I was surprised to find out that it was actually a four-week project. The song was recorded at Electric Lady studios in New York, and was produced with the help of Mike Shipley (who would later work with Benjamin on his solo album, The Lace). It was released as a single on October 14, 1985, with “Just What I Needed” on the B-side.

It turns out that it was extremely appropriate to put the song on a ‘greatest hits’ CD, as “Tonight She Comes” would end up being one of the band’s highest charting singles. It hit #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, and went as high as #7 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Elektra also released the song on a limited edition picture disc. The album itself was a commercial success as well, reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 200 and eventually being certified six times platinum.

Strangely, this doesn’t seem to be a track that you hear about often. Maybe because it wasn’t on a regular album? It’s a shame, because it’s a terrific song. The music is fun — very bright and poppy — and I love Benjamin’s deep background vocals. The lyrics are happy and loving, upbeat; less cynical than many of their other songs. It definitely holds up well with repeated listening.

In the spotlight, though? Elliot’s guitar solo is amazing! And while it has a spontaneous feel to it, it turns out he spent a lot of time crafting it. Elliot told Guitar Player magazine in February of 1986, “I happened to have worked on “Tonight She Comes,” mostly because I had such a long wait in a hotel room in New York. At night, I would sit around watching the tube with my guitar by my side. I had a little micro-cassette recorder, and I would add another lick to the solo. With this approach, you end up with a mathematically cool solo. Then you’ve got to learn it and make it sound like it’s coming off the top of your head, which is an art.”

And then of course there is the small ruckus over the song title. Does Ric mean what most people assume he means? Some people don’t care; some think it’s raunchy… I’ve not heard Ric address the issue (and I wouldn’t really expect him to, given that he likes the listener to draw their own connection to his writing) but Elliot is quoted in the Anthology booklet as saying, “It doesn’t actually say that she reaches orgasm. It could mean that tonight she’s coming over to make popcorn.” So there you have it! Haha!

A couple of other little notables:

Benjamin plays his Guild Pilot bass in the official video (link below), which also happens to be the beauty he was playing at Live Aid that summer.

The woman who stars in the video is Tara Shannon, a well-known model who, at the time, had not starred in any previous videos or movie projects. She says she was shot separately from the band so she didn’t get to meet most of them, but she had a great time filming her part. She also won an award for “Best Performance by a Fashion Model in a Music Video” for her work in “Tonight She Comes.” You can read her thoughts on her experience here.

And my last note. I love the lyrics; they don’t phase me. My favorite line is, “She jangles me up, she does it with ease. Sometimes she passes through me just like a breeze.” Yeah… I know that feeling… but about a guy. LOL

Enjoy the official video below, and click here if you want the lyrics to sing along to.

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“…And everything you do-oo-oo”

WARNING: This is nothing but blatant fangirling, baby.

A bit ago I wrote about my struggles with the gush, and I am finally ready to sit down and have it out. I chose to go with Everything You Say, because the way I perceive Benjamin to be during this time of his life matches my current mood. It’s okay with me if that part doesn’t make sense to you… I also chose it because he’s absolutely AH-MAZING in this video!

Those first notes and that countdown raise my heart rate right out of the gate. The video editor makes me crazy by showing everyone else *but* Benjamin for the first 30 seconds, but when my man finally comes out of the dark and onto the screen he has been worth the wait: he is GORGEOUS. That layered black leather wrapped around his husky build, the 1987 blonde shag, and (as always) the way his hands move on his bass… Seriously, I have to pause here and breathe for a minute.

He starts singing in that low voice and it is sooooo delicious and sexy. The way he says ‘honey’ makes my spine tingle. And oh, those closeups at 1:02 and 2:04! With the sweat on his jaw and his glance over to the right; that way he sort of half-purses his lips… yummy.

Catch his beautiful smile, too, that smile at 1:39! Grooving moves at 2:42, his hands at 2:57 (really, through the whole thing), and his shrug and grin at the late spotlight at 3:26… Ah, and that little bass swing at 3:57! I love it!

Other things that crack me up about this vid: Looks like Elliot gives up at 4:26; the way Greg be-bops around reminds my kids of a little parakeet, I love Ric with the acoustic guitar, and the footage of David is wonderful! Think I’m going to make some gifs from this one. Hee hee!

Be sure to comment on your favorite parts — and let me know if I missed anything!

Touch and Go (oh oh oh!)

There are a few songs in The Cars’ collection that, when I first heard them, I gave them a decided ‘thumbs down.’ During my early explorations of the Panorama album, I can clearly remember sitting in the kitchen and saying to my husband, “This song is just so hokey, with its ‘doong da da doong da da doong’ cowboy rhythm. Sounds like a weird western thing going on.”

Can you imagine?

No surprise that now I listen to it constantly and consider it one of the high points among (ten) high points on Panorama (which is now my favorite record!). Not sure exactly what changed my mind but I think it was Elliot and that hot solo. More about that in a minute… Let’s start with some basic facts. Released as a single on August 25, 1980, “Touch and Go” is the second track on that album, the first of three sent out, and the only song to chart from Panorama, reaching #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was written by Ric Ocasek and produced by Roy Thomas Baker. “Down Boys” was on the flip side.

One of the things you immediately notice in the song is the complexity of the tempo during the verses, and then the change up when they move to the bridge and chorus. In my highly technical mind (ha!) I think to myself, “Wow, that sounds so tricky and awesome!” But people who understand the REAL way music works call it polymeter: using two different time signatures simultaneously. I learned about it from this educational blurb:

“‘Touch And Go’, a hit single by The Cars, has polymetric verses, with the drums and bass playing in 5/4, while the guitar, synthesizer, and vocals are in 4/4 (the choruses are entirely in 4/4).” — Guitar Alliance

touchandgogregcountMy mind, while sincerely nerdy and fact-based, is not super flexible, and concepts like this are somewhat slippery for me to get a grip on. The best way for me to grasp it was by watching Greg count the beat on his fingers during this performance on Fridays (aired September 19, 1980). Luckily no one’s going to test me on it, so I just took enough knowledge to increase my appreciation for the song (and my admiration of the band) and tucked it away; I encourage you to do the same.

The other notable thing about this song — and really, it’s the ultimate, BADASS, off.the.chain, “WTF did I just hear?” portion of this song — is Elliot’s guitar solo. This was decidedly the game changer for me, the element of this song that pulled me in initially and still won’t let me go.

As we know, Elliot has always been the master of crafting the perfect punch for the typical 15 to 30 seconds he might have to make his mark in a song, and his work here in “Touch and Go” just might be his best overall. I am blown away every time I hear it! For a full forty seconds he builds and layers, and takes me higher every step of the way, ending at the perfect peak before dropping me back into the soft lap of Ric’s vocals and Benjamin’s swaying bass. But did you know that this beautiful creation almost didn’t make it into the final recording?  Elliot tells the story himself in this audio clip from my all-time favorite EE interview:

[Pat at RockSolid has given me permission to make and publish that audio clip, but I highly encourage you to take the time to listen to the full 2-hour interview with Elliot; it is funny, poignant, and extremely insightful. You can download it and take it with you on your morning commute, during a long run, or while you’re doing chores around the house. You won’t regret it!]

As to the lyrics for “Touch and Go,” Ric is quoted as giving a rare interpretation of his own writing on page 60 of the book Frozen Fire, by Toby Goldstein: “This is one of those songs about people having a difficult relationship and not understanding why they’re having problems, but they put up with the uncertainty anyway.” Makes sense to me; more so than my 11 year-old son’s take on it: “Touch and go. That’s the same as hit-and-run, right?” Hm, I actually think I could buy into that explanation, too…

The icing on this musical cake is, of course, Benjamin. I cannot resist that wonderful bass sound, alternately rollicking and gentle, pulling me through the song. I love the live footage where I get to study Benjamin’s hands making it happen.

Though “Touch and Go” was released almost a year before MTV successfully launched video music television in the United States, The Cars were, as always, thebouncerwhalomparkin with the pioneers of technology and new music frontiers. They teamed up with Gerald (Jerry) Casale of Devo to produce a ‘short band film’ (sometimes called a ‘pop clip’) to go with the song — not a common practice among artists at the time but growing in popularity. The second verse of the song was omitted, shortening it up a bit.  The official video was filmed at historic Whalom Park in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, on July 7, 1980. The park closed its doors on September 4, 2000, but you can still see two of its popular rides in the video: the Whalom Park Carousel and The Bouncer (pictured).

I love the opening shot of the hands putting the picture disc on the turntable… I don’t know why, but that just is SO cool to me. I also love the parts where Ric is singing in the near-dark and the boys emerge one by one, slowly gliding through our field of vision. And Elliot spinning on The Bouncer with his guitar — could he be any more badass? Even without the special effects and high tech equipment that are available for today’s music video productions, this cutting-edge gem delivers some great visual tidbits.

Here are a few more things about this song that maybe you hadn’t heard yet:

  1. On December 8, 1980, John Lennon mentioned “Touch and Go” specifically in the last interview of his life. Check it out  here. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, feel free to skip ahead; the relevant discussion starts at 1:41:00 and lasts about one minute.
  2. The song did better globally: it peaked at #2 on the French Singles Chart and #16 in Canada.
  3. “Touch and Go” has been compared musically to “Spirits in the Material World” by The Police, and “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty, both released after Panorama, and both possibly influenced by The Cars.
  4. Whalom Park’s ride, The Bouncer, had a strong reputation for making people vomit… Wonder if any of the guys were queasy after shooting the video?
  5. The filming of “Touch and Go” was  possibly the second music video The Cars made. The first might have been the fun and funny spy video they filmed for the song “Panorama,” which was also directed by Gerald Casale, along with co-director Chuck Statler (known as the ‘godfather of the music video’). I can’t find a production date for “Panorama” so I can’t say with certainty which came first, but it is listed first on Gerald Casale’s videography, which I’m assuming is chronological.

Here’s the link to the official music video. I also posted the lyrics here if you want to sing along (skipping that second verse, of course). Enjoy!

A list of the oodles.

Not long ago I posted this video to my twitter account citing, “Oodles of sexiness, a couple of matchy-matchies, & just a ton of over-the-top awesomeness!” Well, some friends were a little distracted by Ric’s… uh, shall we say… ‘uncharacteristically hyper movements’ and could not see past *that* display, so I feel compelled to document (in nerdy list form, of course) the ‘oodles of sexiness’ that actually make this performance drool worthy — even with Benjamin in the back. Here we go!

  1. Right off the bat: Benjamin in black leather.
  2. Benjamin’s beautiful face at 0:37 and the way he mouths, ‘star.’
  3. Working that bass from about 0:45 – 0:50.
  4. Benjamin’s retreat into his rock-and-roll pose at 1:31-1:34.
  5. David’s gorgeousness at 1:35!
  6. Getting into it at 1:41… ah, that mouth!
  7. Elliot’s adorable dancing at 1:52, and all through Gimme Some Slack.
  8. Matchy-matchy: shirts on Benj and Greg; guitar straps on Benj and Ric.
  9. Catch Benjamin’s face at 2:26-2:27.
  10. Pretty much every single time they show David… he’s working hard and looking GOOD! Hot stuff!
  11. At 2:47: the stance,the moves, the sexy little bass grind at 2:55. Mercy!
  12. Ooo, that look at 4:00-4:02.
  13. The way his hair moves on his collar gets me all woozy, especially at 4:05.
  14. View from the back at 4:28 – his hair, his jacket, the way his arm moves… damn amp’s in the way.
  15. His face at 4:52, and then how they cut to the gal in the audience that is in awe… you know she watched Benj the whole time.
  16. Close call with Greg as they are leaving the stage at 4:58. LOL
  17. David’s manly shoulders retreating at 5:04.

So much yumminess!

[Nerd fact: original airdate of this performance is September 19, 1980.]

That rock and roll kick!

Normally I don’t care for songs with long, drawn out solos (as you may know) and in fact, I had heard “Take What You Want” once or twice and thought, “blah!”… but then I saw this footage of The Cars playing it for Musikladen on the big screen and the thrill of watching them boosted this powerful tune onto the list of my all-time favorites. Their performance is off.the.chain.

Before I dive into my looooong recap of what I love about this video segment, I’ll lay out my research. I believe Ric wrote the song in 1977, and it was played in concerts with some consistency through the latter half of that year and on into 1979. The last live performance of it may have been at a charity concert on December 12, 1982, at the Metro in Boston. A quick search for “the cars take what you want” will bring up a few fan videos with various live audio tracks — their performance at the El Mocambo in Toronto is pretty great. For whatever reason, this song didn’t make it to vinyl, but thankfully it showed up on Elektra’s 1999 CD release: “The Cars: Deluxe Edition.”

This song is pretty hard rocking for The Cars. It has such a terrific garage-band-jam-session sound to it. Taking Greg off the keys and hanging a guitar around his neck has a lot to do with that, I’m sure, since he usually plays the bright, pop-ish synth riffs that put one Cars foot on the ‘new wave’ side of the rock-and-roll fence. I think the other reason it comes across so gritty and ragged is because Elliot is allowed to spend some time coaxing those bad-ass sounds out of his guitar. In the meantime, Benjamin is playing out his driving bass and deep background vocals, and David keeps our blood moving with that steady beat. Overlay the primal music with Ric’s edgy lyrics (posted separately) and you’ve got one heck of a wicked song.

musikladen6-ee

As for the video itself, right off the bat you know things are going to be different because out pops Greg from behind his keys, donning a guitar. I love his silliness with Elliot, and how Greg and Benjamin share a mic — or don’t, at 2:32. [Keep an ear out for what sounds like the keyboards at around 4:44 (yes, really!)… I wonder if Ric is playing? Greg is still clearly in the guitar group at that point so it’s not him. I’d love to get some insight on that.]

And then things get a little crazy. Benjamin gets his attitude on starting at 1:30, when he approaches the mic with that cocky swagger. His vocals rise and there’s a little shoulder shimmy before he sets the world on fire with that rock and roll kick. Luckily Elliot was positioned well enough to NOT get his head taken off, and instead he responds with some smokin’ attitude of his own. You just know he’s winding it up…

It’s a tiny gesture, but there’s also that little chin lift that Benjamin does at 1:50. He’s still in rock star mode all the way; and here he comes with it: the ten best Benj seconds of the whole video. Throwing out his pick, strumming that chord before aggressively grabbing another pick off the mic stand, and then retreating into his sexy jamming stance, adjusting his bass, as he gets ready to watch Elliot burn the place down (2:37-2:47). I always need a healthy swig of ice water after that little sequence.

Unfortunately the camera is not catching the beginning of Elliot’s pyromaniacal activities, so I  amuse myself by focusing on the way Benjamin’s hair moves on his collar. Makes me crazy; that’s how much of an obsessed freak I am.

Now look out, Elliot steals the show from about 3:10 on out. It is rare that we get to see him unleash like this, and it is mesmerizing! It’s like he goes into his own little bubble, just him and his baby, and the intensity on his face pays tribute to how far gone he is. Do NOT miss him twist his guitar to make it moan at 4:10 — incredible! (I’m convinced I see a little smile from Benjamin in the corner there.) Elliot seduces us like this for almost a full minute more before we are reined in by a return to Ric’s invasive, forceful vocals.

Elliot is still feeling the grind and we can see it in his growly face at 5:29, and on into his jam with Benjamin from 5:33-5:39. Excuse me if I can hardly focus on anything but Ben’s mouth at that point.

The song comes to its abrupt end and I have to tell you, I’m exhilarated and dying to watch it again. It’s so addictive! Take a turn with it yourself and tell me what you think.

 

A Bit of German Hospitality (Musikladen)

On November 29, 1978, The Cars continued promoting their debut album in Europe by scooting on over to Bremen, Germany, where they performed for the German television program, Musikladen. The concert was aired on June 7, 1979, and later released on DVD by Rhino Records on October 24, 2000 (just three weeks after Benjamin’s death).

[Included on that DVD is the final interview with all five band members, which offers some great insights into this performance as the guys reminisce about their first crazy year of fame. I will pull information from that source in this write up of the Musikladen concert, but I will post separately about the actual interview itself at a later date.]

musikladen2

Musikladen was sort of the ‘Midnight Special’ of Germany, running from December of 1972 to November of 1984. Around 90 episodes were aired, plus 59 billed as Musikladen extra (including this performance by The Cars) with most being made in the period between 1974 and 1979. All episodes were produced by Radio Bremen and directed by Michael Leckebusch.

The Cars take the German stage exactly one week after their Rock Goes to College performance, and only two days after playing in France. Interestingly, this show has a whole different feel to it than either of those two. Where the guys were facing antagonism in the UK, and the Paris concert was so elegant and rather formal, here in Germany the whole atmosphere seems more relaxed, and truly conducive to an intimate jam session. The venue appears quite cozy, with colorful but muted lighting. The platform is fairly low, and is small and uncluttered, snugging the band together. The audience is perched on their seats right up to the edge of the stage, and they are open and receptive throughout the show.

There are a few drawbacks here. Unfortunately, the tight space doesn’t allow for much variation in camera angles. I can live with this because I still feel like I get a good view of all that is going on during the show, and every member is well represented. It is especially wonderful to get to see more of David, since he is usually hidden toward the back; here he is included clearly in much of the footage.

As far as the technical stuff goes, there is a raster pattern (had to look that one up) that blemishes the screen from time to time, but it is so quickly tuned out of my brain that I never notice it anymore. The lighting definitely adds a warmth to the atmosphere, but combined with the limited camera range it sometimes creates shadows that take some getting used to. Again, easy to overcome. I am not picky about the nuances of sound quality so you’ll have to be your own judge in that area; I love it and think it sounds great.

There is SO much to this show that I can’t possibly review it all in one piece. I’m sure I’ll eventually do separate little posts to get out what I can’t keep inside, but here’s what I will tell you now: the thing I find unique about this live show is that every man seems to have his own story. Somehow, it’s not *all* about Benjamin this time (believe me, I’m as shocked as you are! LOL). Again, I think the cozy ambiance of the setting brings everyone in close and invites a connection with each member.

Ironically, the guys report being hungover and not feeling well the day they recorded this concert; a bit too much German hospitality in the form of trays of apple Schnapps. I would not have guessed that from watching this footage. They put on a fabulous show, playing almost flawlessly and really coming across like they were having a blast. I imagine that if I could have sat in Ric’s basement during a rehearsal session it would have been a lot like this performance.

Off the top, I kind of think that Greg is the star among stars imusikladen5n this show. He emits his usual adorable, talented nerdiness, but then goes far beyond that. Watching the footage of him working his insane instrument skills during “I’m In Touch With Your World” left my mouth hanging open the first time I saw it, and it continues to thrill. A little later he comes out from behind his synth lab and joins the guys on guitar for “Take What You Want” — it’s awesome! It’s particularly endearing because he doesn’t adopt any kind of guitar player mannerisms, instead his robotic-style movements and wide-eyed looks remind us that he’s still the same old Greg.

I feel like Elliot finally gets the opportunity to really shine here. The camera absolutely adores him as it zeroes in on his blistering solos, and he plays it up one side and down the other. You can see in every close-up that he is having the time of his life; that he is, without a doubt, doing what he lives for and loves with a crazy passion.  His interactions with Benjamin are classic, and he has fun with Greg, too, when Greg shows up on Elliot’s side of the stage.

As I mentioned before, I love that David doesn’t escape the camera. There are great shots of him doing his thing and driving the songs forward. In the interview footage, he recalls being passed out before the show, and having to be helped in and out of the venue. He played the show ‘in a complete daze’ and has no recollection of the actual gig itself. And yet when you watch him work his drums his arms move with power and energy and he never misses a beat. Truth be told, his performance here just steals my heart, knowing that he feels like trash but he continues to bang it out like a rock star. Of course, there are times when he looks like he’s ready to lean over and barf off to the side, but I didn’t really notice that until after I listened to the interview.

As for Ric… Well, I always have such a hard time connecting with Ric. He still sort of paces around like usual, appearing to monitor the guys like a nervous middle manager, but in these close quarters it comes across more social than menacing. He does seem more unclenched and loose in this concert, chewing gum and mouthing the words to Benjamin’s lead in “Bye Bye Love.” Oddly, the thing that my 13yo daughter found enchanting was that he pulled out a pink guitar for MyBFG. I guess that will do it.

germanyOf course I have to save Benjamin for last. My man is oozing with rock star attitude throughout this entire show. He’s got the shoulder shimmies and the rock-and-roll kick; the bad-ass pick grab and the aggressive bass moves. Don’t even get me started on what he is wearing. He melts the audience with his smooth voice as he introduces songs and thanks them for their attention, and then he ignites them with his edgy vocals and pouty lips. (Well, the audience appears to be mostly men so maybe they don’t spontaneously combust like I do? LOL) All the while, he, too, seems more relaxed than in the other two concerts, like he’s really enjoying himself, being silly with his formal bows and his “I’m thanking you all” comments. We definitely get a strong glimpse into his personality in this show.

[Miscellaneous tidbit: at about 13:00 minutes in the camera shows a bit of  the audience and there is a female photographer that looks entirely stunned by what she’s seeing. Me: “Yep, that’s Benjamin, baby. You’ll never get over it.”]

Okay, your turn to watch it. As always, I’ll give you the set list first. The longest of the three recorded European shows, the band played the following songs:

  1. Good Times Roll
  2. Bye Bye Love
  3. Nightspots
  4. I’m In Touch With Your World
  5. My Best Friend’s Girl
  6. Candy-O
  7. You’re All I’ve Got Tonight
  8. Take What You Want
  9. Since I Held You
  10. Don’t Cha Stop
  11. Just What I Needed

Such a terrific line up! Here’s a newly found link to the show in its entirety. Enjoy!

Yes, you’re too hot… but please stop.

Okay, I can’t put off writing about it anymore. It is the elephant in the room. Well, you know… the elephant in the room in my head that is filled with Benjamin.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on this blog you know that I am head-over-heels, crazy in love with Benjamin, completely immersed in his legacy, and totally obsessed with his life. Nothing he did will ever change that. And you might think that *I* would think that every little thing he did is sheer perfection. And for the most part, every little thing he did is perfect… but there’s this one thing.

This one thing that he did. It makes my cheeks burn with embarrassment.

It’s the video for “Too Hot to Stop.” I can’t STAND it.benjamin-orr-too-hot-to-stop-elektra

There. I said it.

Before you decide to hate me at least hear me out!

Benjamin in black leather? Yes! And you can’t unzip that jacket far enough, buddy. That Hawaiian tan? Bring it on. Cameos by David and Greg? Supportive friends warm my heart. The song is great and I gleefully listen to it over and over. But please…

Someone PLEASE give my man a guitar!!!

I’m just going to lay it all out here. Benjamin, bless his heart, certainly seems to be giving it his best shot… but he looks SO uncomfortable in this. His makeup is awful. His Neil Diamond dance moves are painful to watch. The lip-synching is a disaster. And I feel like I can tell pretty much every point where they stopped filming and Someone said, “how about you dance like this” and “why don’t you move over this way” and “try throwing your arms up” and “now give us the smoldering look.” At no time does he look to me like he’s truly enjoying himself.

Up until I decided to write this review I had only watched this video twice. You can imagine my expectations the first time I clicked ‘play’, can’t you? Can’t you??? Well, it was like a sucker punch. I couldn’t have been more dismayed if he had come out with his head shaved and wearing Steven Tyler’s tights.

I wanted to love it so much! It’s BENJAMIN, for crying out loud! I watched it a second time, thinking that maybe it would move into that grace-filled category of “it’s so bad, it’s funny and I love it” – but no, just more trauma. And in spite of my dear friend Jen’s attempts to get me to give it another go, I just couldn’t do it. I refused to pull it from the corner where I had shoved it, deep in the back of my mind, and managed to ignore it for a while… and yet here I am. I can’t seem to let it go.

Now come on. Think back to every performance you’ve ever seen of Benjamin Orr — and I’m talking about before this video *and* after.  That cool demeanor, those sensual facial expressions… how he could define ‘rock star’ just by standing there, working that bass or guitar and mesmerizing you with his voice, and then turn your knees to noodles with his brilliant smile. This persona fit him perfectly; he was in his element. It was obvious that he was comfortable there; I believe it came very naturally to him.

The Benjamin Orr of the 2H2S video is just *not* him. It seems like a parody, a joke.  Whose idea was this? Please don’t tell me it was the 80s and that’s what everybody did. This was Someone’s concept *for* Benjamin but not *about* Benjamin; it was Someone trying to push a rock star peg into a cheesy hole. It was Someone trying to make my man into something he wasn’t.

But I will say this for him, he was a gamer. However uncomfortable he may have been he pushed through and made it happen; made Someone’s dream come true. And yes, I’m definitely convinced that this was NOT his idea… because he just looks SO wrong.

2Hot2StopSet

I read an article from The Boston Herald, dated January 24, 1987, about the making of the 2H2S video. Most of the column inches are spent talking about the complex state-of-the-art lighting used for the ‘futuristic’ backdrop on the set. There is one quote from Benjamin; he says this: “My only idea was to have the video have something to do with outer space. That’s what seems to capture attention the most these days, so I wanted to see if we could go out there for a while — or at least fool the camera into thinking we had.”

My darling, nerdy, love-of-my-life, I wish you had been a just little more opinionated as to how this was all going to play out…

Not sure I can really find my usual little tidbits to gush about. Certainly that smile at 3:30 melts my heart. I know we all adore Benjamin, and I accept that not everyone feels the same way about the 2H2S video as I do, so I’ll let you watch and add your own heartthrob moments in the comments. Maybe you can point out something wonderful that I missed.