Quoting Benjamin

With regard to his boat, the Blue Di, and writing songs on the water: “This is the best thing I’ve ever bought, bar none. It’s not too conspicuous. It’s big enough for one guy to operate and the chief pretty officer over here [referring to Diane]. She hates taking orders, but somebody’s gotta be captain of the boat… I enjoy my free time. I like doing this [boating]. I’d much rather do this, now that we’re writing…. We love the water. It’s really soothing. It seems to be good for us.” — excerpts from “The Rewards of Rock Stardom” by Jim Sullivan, The Boston Globe, November 1, 1986

ben with the blue di boat

Quoting Benjamin

On what he was doing during the three years it took to make The Lace: “Horsing around. I went to Hawaii for two weeks and stayed for three months.” — 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:

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Diane and Ben on the video set for “Too Hot To Stop,” 1987 (Photo credit: Jim Mahoney, The Boston Herald)

“I remember one of the happiest days of my life was when we did our first promotional tour for the album. We were in Cleveland and riding in the backseat of the promoter’s car when ‘Stay the Night’ came on the radio for the first time. We were so excited and yelling like kids!” — Diane Grey Page, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken

Lyrics: This Time Around

This Time Around (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page ©1986)

 

So many times disappointed

Thrown about with a doubt you could never see

And out of nowhere it sounded…. something is happening

 

Someone who happened to hear it

Listened in silence and knew how to understand

One step ahead of a feeling, touching with loving hands

 

Now I know that things are going to be alright (this time, this time) this time around

Lonely days give way to warm and gentle nights (this time)

 

No need to keep second guessing

Racing in circles and trying to figure out

Answers to all of the questions… you had them all along (you had them all along)

 

Yes, I know that things are going to be alright (this time, this time) this time around

Lonely days give way to warm and gentle nights (this time)

 

Take away all the old doubts

‘Cause there’s something for you that comes from a different place

In a different way

 

Straight ahead, you and me every day,

You just got to be you… just believe

You know that love can give you what you need

 

Now I know that things are going to be alright (this time, this time) this time around

Lonely days give way to warm and gentle nights (this time)

Warm and gentle summer nights…

 

So many times disappointed

Thrown about with a doubt you could never see

Then out of nowhere it sounded straight to the heart of me

 

Now I know that things are going to be alright (this time, this time) this time around

Lonely days give way to warm and gentle nights (this time)

Yes, I know that things are going to be alright (this time, this time) this time around

Lonely days give way to warm and gentle nights (this time)

Warm and gentle summer nights

 

This time… it’s gonna be alright… this time

This time… I know it’s gonna be alright… this time

This time… it’s gonna be alright… this time

This time… I know it’s gonna be alright… this time

In other words:

On writing songs with Benjamin for The Lace: “I kept hearing this song coming upstairs from the studio and one day he said, ‘Hey, do you want to try writing lyrics with this song?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’ And I said, ‘How will you know whether it’s going to work or not?’ and he said, ‘I’ll know immediately. If it works, it works.’ So we wrote ‘Stay The Night’ and it came very easily, and it was smooth, and he seemed to like my work, so we continued on from there and we wrote eleven songs.” — Diane Grey Page, “Rock Of The World” interview with host Phil Harvey, 1986

Lyrics: That’s The Way

That’s The Way  (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1985)

She’ll get you mystified, you’re going for a ride
Or you can let it drop.
Or you can take the hit or you can miss the ship
Or you could take the top
That’s the way I want, I gotta see you anyway…yeah

Well, you can jump the fence or you can have some sense
Or you can call the cop.
Or you can close the book or you can just unhook
And all I know is…
That you can have some if you want to (don’t close your eyes)

I could show you if you want to
But all I know is…

That’s the way I want
Shake you, take you down
All the way…yeah
(I tell you) That’s the way… all the way

Well, you can take what you want to (don’t close your eyes)
You can do what you like (** your eyes)
Just something else to get through (don’t close your eyes)
But you got to want to win
It’ll come around again anyway

Well, you can take what you want to (don’t close your eyes)
You can do what you like (** your eyes)
Just something else to get through (don’t close your eyes)
But you got to want to win
It’ll come around again anyway

Hey you can take the piece or you can shake the squeeze
You can let it drop.
Well, you can take the pass or you can break the glass
And all I know is…
That’s the way I want
Shake you; take you down
Yeah

Well you can roll it back or you can counteract
or you can shut it down.
Well you can take the hit or you can transmit (transmit)
And all I know is…
That you can have some if you want to (don’t close your eyes)
I can show you if you want to.
But all I know is…

That’s the way I want
Shake you; take you down…yeah
(I tell you) That’s the way…

All the way

Lyrics: The Lace

The Lace (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1985)

 

Just walking through the city, some need to sort things out

I don’t need to know the pity I’m feeling for us now

 

We walked right back together, back when I hardly knew

Why do the strangest things bring back those times with you?

Just when we’re getting closer I’m seeing something new

 

Just soaking up the city, drifting the days away, yeah

Searching through crowds of people, the face that got away

 

We talked good times together, put all my dreams on you

You led me down some path and now I see where to

Turns out my best just wasn’t good enough for you

 

You couldn’t recognize the loss in the world

I want to lose yourself, you couldn’t feel the pull

Everything just ends up so sad, too bad, I gave it what I had

 

Just walking through the city, drifting the days away, yeah

Searching through crowds of people, the lace that got away

 

You’re telling me it’s nothing when I would watch you stare

How could I get to you when you were never there?

 

We walked right back together, back when I hardly knew

Why do the strangest things bring back those times with you?

Just when we’re getting closer I’m seeing something new

 

You couldn’t recognize the loss in the world, so sad

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!

Lyrics: Hold On

Hold On* (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1985)

[Disclaimer: I gave myself some room on this one. The words are hard to discern and the other published attempts I’ve read don’t really hit the mark to me, so just know that I’ve written what I’m hearing and it may not be perfect.]

Well you sure look good tonight, I think I’ve come to see some light

Come on, hold onto me… belong to me

You know that love looks good on you, in what you say and what you do

Come on, hold onto me… it’s all I need

 

I’d gotten to the point where time was plowing by

Not a thing to show for all the times I’ve tried

Now we just can’t seem to wipe the smile away and you gave it to me

Given up on feeling something beautiful

Loneliness was starting to be suitable to me

Lucky day I found when you got into us

 

Can’t seem to get enough of you, when you’re away I dream that you

Come on and hold onto me, belong to me

And so it never really ends, you mend the hurts that never mend

Come on, hold on to me, it’s all I need

 

Where did all what I had in mind run for me?**

Guess you gotta take the blinders off so you can see

Not a thought goes by that doesn’t hang on you and what did I do before?

Can’t believe that this is really happening

All the hurtful days are finally vanishing

Making all your fantasies realities

 

We could be in for some surprises; I know it… you know it, too

Before you think of compromising just realize it’s only here for you

 

Yeah you sure look good tonight, I think I’ve finally seen some light

Come on, hold onto me… it’s all I need

And so it never really ends, you mend the hurts that never mend

Come on and hold onto me, belong to me

 

Gotta knack for bringing out the best to me

When the love is right it’s possible to see you so clearly

All my life I wondered would it come to me then you brought it to me

Can’t believe that this is really happening, all the hurtful days are finally vanishing

Making all your fantasies realities

 

Where did all what I had in mind run for me?**

Guess you gotta take the blinders off so you can see

Not a thought comes by that doesn’t hang on you and what did I do before?

 

*Original title: “Belong to Me”

** Help!

Lyrics: Spinning

Spinning* (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page, ©1983)

What am I to do about this? Who am I to you?
There’s a splice somewhere in all this
You can find a way, you know it… Not so hard to do
All you got to do is show it
It’s only got to do with you

Spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels
Spinning our wheels for years
Well, you can’t get there, you can’t get there
You can’t get there from here

Doesn’t seem so well connected, threads are almost bare
Something’s new; just not expected
Tell me is it really there?

Spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels
Spinning our wheels for years
You can’t get there, you can’t get there
You can’t get there from here

Why should this be so hard? So close… Why are you afraid?
Just tell me where we are, I would try another way

How can I get to you? Where do I begin?

I try, but can’t get through… You won’t let me in

Spinning our wheels

How does it feel? Caught in the wheels for years

Doesn’t seem so well connected, threads are almost bare
Something’s new; just not expected
What am I to do about this? Who am I to you?
There’s a splice somewhere in all this
It’s only got to do with you

Spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels
Spinning our wheels for years (spinning)
You can’t get there, you can’t get there
You can’t get there from here (yeah)

Spinning our wheels, how does it feel?
Caught in the wheels for years (spinning… wheels)
You can’t get there, you can’t get there
You can’t get there from here (yeah)

Yeah, spinning our wheels, spinning our wheels
Spinning our wheels for years (spinning… wheels)
You can’t get there, you can’t get there
You can’t get there from here

*Original title: “You Can’t Get There From Here”

Lyrics: When You’re Gone

When You’re Gone (written by Benjamin Orr and Diane Page ©1985)

Rain keeps pounding without a break
Competing with a heart awake… even now

I can’t imagine what you’re doing when you’re not around
A shaky thought to wrestle down… I need you now

(When you’re gone) You gotta know that everything is turning me upside down
(For so long) You gotta see that confusion’s spinning me around
(When you’re gone) You gotta know that the feeling is that everything is lost, you see
When you’re gone

Shadows reaching long across the floor, wishing you were at the door
You know it’s insanity… you always keep leaving me
Walking around one room to the next, remembering the very best
It’s starting to get to me… you always keep leaving me

(When you’re gone) You gotta know that everything is turning me upside down
(For so long) You gotta see that confusion’s spinning me around
(Can’t imagine, when you’re gone) You gotta know that the feeling is that everything is lost, you see
When you’re gone

And ’cause it’s so strong it’s that much harder
I’m feeling so alone
Well, I need to hold you and feel the magic
You’ve been away so long
Yeah, yeah

Well, if it isn’t enough how can I make it more?

Thought we’d been through this all before… here we go one more time
And rain keeps pounding without a break

Competing with a heart awake… I need you now

(When you’re gone) You gotta know that everything is turning me upside down
(For so long) You gotta see that confusion’s spinning me around
(Can’t imagine, when you’re gone) You gotta know that the feeling is that everything is lost, you see
When you’re gone so long

(When you’re gone) You gotta know that everything is turning me upside down
(For so long) You gotta see that confusion’s spinning me around
(Can’t imagine, when you’re gone) You gotta know that the feeling is that everything is lost, you see
When you’re gone