Lyrics: Don’t Tell Me No

“Don’t Tell Me No” by The Cars

It’s my party, you can come

It’s my party, have some fun

It’s my dream, have a laugh

It’s my life, have a half well…

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me slow

 

It’s my transition, it’s my play

It’s my phone call to beta ray

It’s my hopscotch, light the torch

It’s my downtime, feel the scorch, well

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no, no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no, no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me no

 

It’s my ambition, it’s my joke

It’s my teardrop, emotional smoke

It’s my mercy, it’s my plan

I want to go to future land, well

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

I like it when you tell me slow

 

Don’t tell me no … tell me no… don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no … don’t tell me, I don’t want to know

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no no no, ay

(Don’t tell me no)

 

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me… don’t tell me… don’t tell me no no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me… don’t tell me you have to go… don’t tell me no

(Don’t tell me no)

Don’t tell me no, don’t tell me no

In other words:

On Ben’s diagnosis and death: “That was crazy. I went to see him. He was pretty strong; I have to say that. Very strong, considering he knew very well that he didn’t have very many days to live. It was very sad. It’s hard to even comprehend, because a year before that, there was nothing wrong. So no one really expected that.

ben ric
Sorry for the crummy screen shot… spj

“To make it more sad, he had a little boy who was about four at that point, and when I went to see Ben in Atlanta, his little boy was there, too. It was sad for me, because I have kids, like, ‘Oh my God, the poor little kid doesn’t even barely know what’s gonna happen.’ I guess I didn’t really believe it. I was asking some people around, ‘Well, how long do you think?’ They were going, ‘A few weeks.’ I said, ‘Nah. You gotta be kidding.’ But there’s no way to get out from under pancreatic cancer, from what I understand. It’s a horrible thing to have.” — Ric Ocasek, Magnet Magazine interview, 2005

 

Book Review: Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

This review was originally written for and published on my sister site, Read~Rock~Review, on September 11, 2018.


LetsGo.jpg

Written by Joe Milliken, 2018

Format: Book, 216 pages, 30+ photos

Published by Rowman & Littlefield

Website: http://www.benorrbook.com

Notable Quote: “Believe me, Benny just had this incredible electricity about him. He would walk into a room and whether they knew him or not, people just felt there was something special about this guy…. I swear that in the mid-sixties, Benny was like the Elvis Presley of Cleveland.” — Wayne Weston, friend and former bandmate.


My quick 2 cents: Between the unique writing style, the candid memories of many important people, and the generous number of previously unpublished photos, Benjamin Orr’s inspiring story comes to life in these pages. Buy it!

The full scoop:  Any retrospective on the late 1970s and 1980s HAS to include some focus on the new wave rock legends, The Cars. A debut album that stayed on the charts for 139 consecutive weeks, winners of the first MTV “Video of the Year” award in 1984, creators of what would become the haunting signature song for Live Aid (“Drive”) — they are more than deserving of their 2018 induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

While all five guys generally resisted the limelight, bassist Benjamin Orr was arguably the most sought-after — and most private — of the band members. Blessed with versatile vocal chords, unwavering musicianship, and an irresistible magnetism, fans of Benjamin ‘the rock star’ fell hard and with no hope of recovery. But once the show was over and the lights went down, Benjamin flipped a switch. He was a normal guy; he avoided photographers, shunned interviews, and led a low-key lifestyle in the quiet, upscale town of Weston, Massachusetts. Of course, all of this added an air of mystery to his reputation. When he succumbed to cancer in October, 2000, at the age of 53, it seemed the curtain had closed on his legacy forever.

First-time author (and long-time rock journalist) Joe Milliken has spent the last eleven years researching Ben’s life in an attempt to pull back that curtain with his biography Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, due to be released on November 11, 2018. The book follows Benjamin through others’ eyes as he pursued his rock-and-roll dreams from his happy days as a teen star in Cleveland to the open-minded bars of Boston, to the comforting arms of Atlanta — not ruthlessly, but with a humility and steely determination that left those around him in awe.

As a devoted fan of Benjamin Orr, I’ve been researching and writing about him on my personal blog for about three years. When I discovered that this book was in the works, I felt protective of Ben’s privacy and I’ll admit… I was nervous. What if the author revealed information that was too personal? What if he told things that were not fair to tell, with Ben gone and not able to defend himself? Would the author’s sources be credible? And what if… what if I just… didn’t like the book?

My fears were unfounded on all fronts.

The first thing that impressed me was the writing style. The author uses a distinctive technique where he introduces a player in Ben’s life and then lets that person fill in the narrative with his or her quote. I thought it might be jarring to have the flow stop and another voice come in but it’s really so perfect. It’s truly like a camera cuts to the significant person and you hear them talking about Ben, like a documentary rather than a novel.

Having Benjamin’s loved ones tell about him in their own words is brilliant. I felt my heart and mind busily rearranging my personal ‘mosaic’ of Ben, having it grow in clarity and color, adding texture, as I read their stories. It is such a perfect format to document the life of a man who never enjoyed talking much about himself. The result is this masculine and tender, very respectful, very REAL painting of who Benjamin was.

And of course, by ‘rearranging my mosaic’ I mean that I learned a lot of new things about Ben, especially about his early years and what he was like behind-the-scenes. I also connected some dots, confirmed some things I had suspected from my research, and enjoyed some surprising stories.

While I won’t tell you exactly who is in the book, I was impressed with the long roster of interviewees, including Ben’s former bandmates, record executives, iconic photographers, media personnel, key women in his life, and friends who had known him intimately.

Another element that I love about this book is that there is no ‘tell all’ mentality anywhere to be found. The author skillfully balances the heady experiences of a world-famous rock star with the reality of a deeply private, kind-hearted and loyal man. For example, I can see in places where he’s walked that fine line of honoring Ben and respecting his relationships while maintaining the honesty of his attraction to and of other women. Or the struggles Ben faced with the dissolution of The Cars and finding his way back to the stage. Milliken is gentle with the truth, letting the other voices tell their story and leaving it up to the reader to ‘read between the lines’ if they are so inclined.

When asked how he made decisions about what to leave in and what to take out, Milliken said, “Every time I came to a place where I had to walk the line of Ben’s privacy, I had his son in my head. I would ask myself, ‘What would young Ben think of this?'” It seems to have been the perfect measuring stick.

Equally as thrilling as the informative text is the abundance of photos! There are more than 30 black-and-white photographs woven through the chapters, the majority of them new to the public. Such a treat! The book also includes a timeline of bands, a selected index, and a list of everyone the author interviewed over the years.

If there is any drawback to the book, it is that all of my questions were not answered. But how could they be? My curiosity goes way beyond obsession (what IS the story with that one bracelet, anyway???). It’s an impossible task, short of putting Ben’s life under a microscope, which I believe he would have hated.

Others may feel like this book is not ‘sensationalistic’ enough. But the fans… the ones who truly love Benjamin… they will be so moved at the way the author has protected his memory and his legacy. His son, the women in his life, his dear friends, his former bandmates… any and all of the people in those categories… I believe they will finish the book and hug it to their chests and be SO happy at what’s been done for Ben.

Just like me.

Quoting Benjamin

On his early days in bands: “Even back then, people had attitude problems or girlfriend problems. If a guy met a girl he thought was special, he’d choose to stay home. And the guys who chose to stay home are still home now.” — from “Benjamin Orr: The Cars’ Mr. Casual Steps Out” by Rob Tannenbaum, Musician Magazine, March 1987

waiting1

Bob McKeon: Ben Orr, under arrest?

Once upon a time, in the peaceful hamlet of Allston, Massachusetts, a diabolical plot was carried out: the murder of Michael Mackin! But who could be so evil? So cunning? And so sure that he… or she… could escape detection?

Okay, that’s not exactly what happened… er, at least not for real.

Boston Globe mention cropped
The Boston Globe, August 6, 1987

On August 8, 1987, Boston’s public access television station, WGBH, hosted a benefit as part of their annual fundraising events. The theme was “Murder at MYSTERY! Mansion” and those in attendance were charged with the task of solving a faux crime, specifically, figuring out who murdered Channel 7 reporter Michael Mackin. Other local celebrities and notable personalities were there, too, and, as witnesses to the ‘death’, were considered suspects.

One gentleman at the charity event was Massachusetts State Police (MSP) Corporal Bob McKeon. Bob was recruited as a volunteer by Carole Nash, owner of the Nash Modeling Agency in Boston, to play the part of the arresting officer at the end of the evening.

As best as Bob can recall from this night over thirty years ago, the excitement got underway while the volunteer actors were gathered on a stage and the guests were mingling nearby. The lights suddenly went out, and when they came up again, Mike Mackin was dead on the floor — the game was afoot! After his body was removed, guests had to interact with the suspects to try to determine who was responsible for the terrible tragedy.

Bob himself was downstairs in a private room, waiting for his cue for the grand finale. He wasn’t privy to all that was happening above so he isn’t sure how Vincent Price fit in, or if a dinner was served, or in what ways the guests obtained clues to solve the mystery. But he was far from bored: Mike Mackin was brought into the room from the stage, and the two had fun shooting the breeze while the event continued upstairs. A little later, Bob had the pleasure of chatting with Benjamin Orr and Diane Page for a bit when they stepped away from the action of the stage.

While Ben and Diane stayed close together most of the evening, Ben made his way down to the room for a short break. He and Bob conversed easily as they found they had obvious common interests. “Ben was a supporter of the MSP. He asked me about my career. Apparently he was friendly with some of the Troopers on the Mass Pike [located in Weston] and mentioned going to the shooting range with a couple of them. He spoke well of the Massachusetts State Police.”

Diane joined them shortly afterwards. Bob found Diane and Ben to be refreshingly genuine and open, and he enjoyed their quiet chat very much.

ben by bob mckeon
L_R: Bob McKeon, Carole Nash, Diane Page, and Benjamin Orr, August 8, 1987. Photo courtesy of Bob McKeon, shared with permission.

Eventually it was Bob’s turn to make his appearance in the drama. He headed back upstairs and prepared for his signal calling him to emerge through the curtain.

“When it came time to see who was responsible for Mackin’s murder, I walked onto the stage. I stood out like a sore thumb being dressed in two-tone blue and not black and white like everyone else,” Bob recalled. He played his part perfectly. “I slowly walked past all the alleged suspects and returned to Diane and arrested her for the murder. Then I surprised the crowd by arresting Ben as a co-conspirator before and after the fact.”

The evening was a success, and remains a wonderful memory for Bob.

“It was all in good fun and they raised a sizable sum of money during the event. I was happy they took a photo of myself with Carole, Diane, and Ben. It is a great memory of a fun event. I found Diane and Ben to just be normal folks when I was one-on-one with them. Ben was really nice and I felt sad when he passed.”

Of course, the ‘charges’ were dropped and no one’s permanent record was affected, though Ben did leave a favorable lasting impression on Bob McKeon.

Thank you so much for sharing your little bit of Ben history with us, Bob!  ❤

In other words:

wedding with judith
Photo courtesy of Judith Orr; shared with permission.

“Was this for real? Here was this incredible man I loved saying the most romantic words. He bent down on one knee and pulled out a stunning diamond ring. He brought me to Weston to propose on my birthday… Who could say no to that?

“We were only engaged for a month and we had the most spectacular tropical island wedding in the Fern Grotto in Kauai, Hawaii. Ben planned it all himself while I was working. It couldn’t have been more perfect.” — Judith Orr, excerpt from Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

Lyrics: Moving In Stereo

“Moving In Stereo” by The Cars

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

It’s so easy to blow up your problems, it’s so easy to play up your breakdown

It’s so easy to fly through a window, it’s so easy to fool with the sound

 

It’s so tough to get up, it’s so tough

It’s so tough to live up, it’s so tough on you

 

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo

Life’s the same except for my shoes

Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo

Life’s the same, it’s all inside of you

 

Lyrics: Bye Bye Love

“Bye Bye Love” by The Cars

I can’t feel this way much longer expecting to survive

With all these hidden innuendos just waiting to arrive

It’s such a wavy midnight and you slip into insane

Electric angel rock-and-roller, I hear what you’re playing

 

It’s an orangy sky, always it’s some other guy

It’s just a broken lullaby

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

 

Substitution, mass confusion clouds inside your head

Involving all my energies until you visited

With your eyes of porcelain and of blue, they shock me into sense

You think you’re so illustrious you call yourself intense

 

It’s an orangy sky, always it’s some other guy

It’s just a broken lullaby

Bye bye love

Bye bye love (yeah)

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

 

Substitution, mass confusion clouds inside your head

Well, foggin’ all my energies until you visited

With your eyes of porcelain and of blue, they shock me into sense

You think you’re so illustrious you call yourself intense

 

It’s an orangy sky, always it’s some other guy

It’s just a broken lullaby

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

Bye bye love

In other words:

“Our personal relationship had its ups and downs, as Ben was a very complex person and could be moody. Plus, I was only in my twenties, but fortunately we did remain friends through it all. Ben was somewhat intense and seemed introverted, but he was really just taking time to get to know you, then he would open up a little more. He was quite a character once I got to know him, and he always had something fun or creative going on. The man never sat still!” — David Frangioni, recording engineer and producer, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken, p. 159

charlie brad delp david frangioni ben
L-R: Vocalists Charlie Farren and Brad Delp, engineer and co-producer David Frangioni, and Ben Orr, during the 1993 recording sessions for Ben’s second (unreleased) solo album. Photo courtesy of David Frangioni; used with permission.