In other words:

“So, first day, I remember Ben coming to my house. Somebody picked him up at the airport, and I opened the door and there’s Benjamin Orr in all his glory and his … whatever… and I said, ‘God,’ I said, ‘you’re Ben Orr!’ and he goes, ‘So I’ve been told, pardner.’ He was a character (laughing).” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Craig Garber and Everyone Loves Guitar, November 26, 2020 (at about 8:44)

In other words:

“[Ben] was not [an introvert]… I like to think more of Ben as, he spoke when he had something to say, which sometimes comes off as being shy or aloof… I’m not so sure, and I guess technically you could say that somebody can walk onstage and perform like he did and still be an introvert; maybe that’s their release. But I saw when Ben was sick, and we were touring and he was battling his cancer, and he would spend time talking to people who had either battled cancer themselves, were just curious, were going through some other trauma in their life, and Ben would take enormous amounts of time being very candid with these folks and talking to them. That’s not an introvert. An introvert runs and hides…

“He was a bit of a quiet person [but] he was very forthcoming with people, loved the human contact… The only thing that would maybe have given you the impression that he was an introvert was that he wasn’t a man of many words, but when he said something it meant something.” — Jeff Carlisi, guitarist for 38 Special and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview on Madame Perry’s Salon, January 27, 2020 (at about 8:20)

Quoting Benjamin

On his feelings about The Lace: “I did the absolute best I could possibly do under the circumstances. I’m happy with what I have, but it makes me personally cringe when I don’t hear exactly [what I wanted]. Probably no one else would notice except myself and a few other people. It won’t happen like that again. It took me much too long to do this project. I wasn’t thrilled about some of the things that went on [referring to recording in England]. I’m real glad it’s over.” — “The Rewards of Rock Stardom” by Jim Sullivan, The Boston Globe, November 1, 1986

QuotingB

Something new!

We all have our stories, don’t we? The ways in which The Cars touched our lives, and how and why they continue to bring us happiness. Connecting with other fans and telling about our journey brings us such a sense of community and camaraderie that knit us together, and in some cases, it helps us feel like we’re not entirely nuts!

A couple of months back we received an email for the podcast suggesting that we allow guests to come on the show to share what the band and the music mean to them. Dave and I talked about it and didn’t feel like the pod was the best fit for that kind of thing, but we came up with another plan.

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Graphic by @night_spots

We’ve created “Got A Lot On My Head,” an audio forum for the Fanorama, featuring the memories and musings of our Cars family who have something they’d like to share with the rest of us, in their own words. It can be as simple as how you got into the music, or you can go deeper into your personal connection with a song. Or you can share what it was like to see the band live, your memories of meeting a band member, or your “so close!” moments. There are lots of possibilities… If you’ve got something to share, we want to hear it!

Interested in participating? It’s super simple! Get in touch with me via the contact page on this blog, or through Facebook or Twitter. We’ll schedule a recorded phone call, we’ll have a great chat, and I’ll publish it on my Youtube channel.* Done and done!

Our first foray into this forum features Norah Wiley, the sweet lady who gave us this idea! She shares her story of how “Drive” got her through a very painful time in her life. Take a listen, leave a comment, and make a new friend. ❤

*Of course, I reserve the right to edit the audio and/or decline publishing at my discretion.

The Cars in Commercials

The Cars in Commercials

Okay… this is just one of those ‘rabbit hole’ things I stumbled across. I was working on my obsession of clipping out Cars references in television and movies and I came to Circuit City.

From 2004-2006, Circuit City used “Just What I Needed” in their ad campaign to try to revive the suffering sales of their consumer electronics chain. As awesome as the song is, it couldn’t work any magic (groan) for Circuit City, and the company filed bankruptcy in 2008. Here are the deets on that advertising plan: 

Though The Cars had allowed their music to be used in many movies prior to this, I think this might be the first time that it was part of an ad campaign. I’m not positive on that, though, so if someone knows otherwise, please let me know. Of course, several other Cars songs have made there way to commercials since then. As you may or may not know, I’ve got a Youtube playlist where I’m trying to gather all those bits. Here’s a link to it, if you want to check it out. I’m continuing to add to it all the time, so be sure to subscribe to my channel to get notice of new additions (if you’re into that sort of thing). 

I do remember an interview where Ric Ocasek felt sure that he would NOT permit his songs to be used in such a way. He was speaking with the late Bob Coburn on Rockline in 1987. Here’s the clip: 

When asked about licensing “Just What I Needed” to Circuit City, Ric told Tom Lanham of Magnet Magazine, “Well, a lot of that money goes to the band, too. And maybe I’m a little bit better off than the band, financially, because I do a lot of other things in my life. But I got a little bit of, ‘Oh, could you please? We could really use it!’ I kind of fell to that, even though philosophically, I really never wanted to do that. But after Dylan did Victoria’s Secret, I thought, ‘If Dylan’s gonna do it and Lou Reed’s gonna do it, maybe I’ll just forget about what I said 30 years ago and do this.’ So I did it. Plus, Ben’s estate gets a cut.”

Well, that’s some pretty great motivation there, then. Since ALL the guys benefited from it, including Ben’s estate, I think that’s a worthwhile reason for Ric to let go of his long-held personal rule. I wouldn’t really be complaining about him changing his mind in any case; I love it when I see commercials featuring the music of my favorites. Not only does it make me happy and hyper because I dig the song, but I think it’s an important part of continuing a band’s legacy, and it is instrumental in introducing classic music to a new generation of listeners. And this current generation needs to hear The Cars!

Anyway, here is a compilation of all of the Circuit City commercials that I could find, and now I can cross this one off my list. Haha! 

[Thank you for reminding me about the Magnet Magazine article, Rebecca! ❤ ]

Episode 48: Brett Basil

episode 48Dave and Donna visit with talented singer, songwriter, and musician Brett Basil — also known as “SuperFan B.B.”! They explore how The Cars influenced his work as they walk through his three solo CDs. But before all that, Dave and Brett conspired to punk Donna at the beginning of their chat, since she had never heard Brett’s voice before. “Sons of biscuits!”

After dispensing with the news (Rock Hall Robyn is a published writer! Ric is working on a new album!), Dave, Donna, and Brett attempt to figure out how in the world they ever hooked up. Once they’ve got that sorted, they weave around through some of Brett’s musical philosophies, his early influences, and his instrumental background. Of course, Brett was hugely influenced by Greg Hawkes of The Cars, and reveals that his whole first album is an homage to Greg’s amazing talent.

Brett Basil | DebutSo into the first album they go, appropriately titled Debut. Released in 2011, Brett had been doing some writing and playing, and was kicking around the idea of recording a record. JD Doyle from Out Radio commissioned him to write “It Gets Better” to combat the bullying of gay teens, and that experience encouraged him to go ahead and get in the studio. The resulting product is a mix of danceable pop hits and inspired anthems reminiscent of a John Hughes movie soundtrack. 

Brett Basil | MeltBrett’s second album, Melt, came out in 2014. It’s a little more rockin’ with heavier guitars, but maintains its bright synth contributions. Like most songwriters, Brett’s songs are largely biographical and reflect the ups and downs of his life’s journey. And, Brett confesses, the process of converting those experiences into musical messages sometimes required WWGD (what would Greg do?) moments. The Cars continued to leave their fingerprints.

Brett Basil | ExceedIn 2016 Brett released his third record, Exceed, and again Brett has transformed his sound. Producer Jordan Egler lures the best out of Brett by widening the vision for his music, and the results are terrific. In fact, Brett dubs the album “the house that Egler built.” Rather than being a punk album, the songs tend toward more of Brett’s early influences: The Cars, Fleetwood Mac, and Depeche Mode, and are infused with a vibrant “live” feel to them.

Before they know it, it’s time to move into the Midnight Scroll. As Brett is a huge Rico Kazzik fan, it’s quite a coincidence that they have a Rico letter to read this week. Who would have thought? Haha!

Woven through the podcast are selections of Brett’s music: “Naked” (from Debut), “Chance” (from Melt), and “Call On Me” (from Exceed), with “Wancha” from Melt playing out the show. Brett has a considerable vault of songs stored up and is hoping to keep putting out records. In the meantime, get up to speed by ordering his current tunes for yourself. You can pick up Brett’s CDs at CD Baby here, or listen to him on Spotify.  You can also find his songs on his Youtube channel.

And hey, be sure to 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!

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

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!

Quoting Benjamin

On why The Cars closed Syncro Sound: “We closed it down because the machinery, uh, state of the art machinery is quite expensive and it’s real hard for up-and-coming musicians to afford something like that unless there’s a record deal, and record companies weren’t in abundance in this town. So, it was difficult for us. It was a case of losing more money a year, you know, than trying to keep up with the tech stuff that we had to. We had three full-time techs there and it was a monetary decision.” ~ interview with A.J. Wachtel of The Beat, October 1987

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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.

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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!