Rest in peace, Ric Ocasek.

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From Paulina, 09.16.19

Ric died on Sunday.

You probably already know that. Of course you do. It is all over every newswire; the world is in mourning.

I’m touched by the number of friends and fans that have contacted me to make sure I was aware, to see if I was okay, and to share their tears with me. Thank you for that. It is both overwhelming and comforting to be a part of so much heartbreak. There is shelter in our mutual grief, and I am grateful for the sincere connection with so many people who love the band I love.

Like many Benjamin Orr fans, when I first started learning all about Ben and researching the history of The Cars, I immediately adopted the opinion that Ric was the bad guy. I couldn’t see the necessity and beauty of his role; I only saw things in the negative: lead vocal distribution, video screen time, touring and merchandising decisions. It’s no secret that he was highly controlling (he admitted it himself more than once) and that he gained the most financially from the band’s success, and I felt that he often came across as arrogant and self-absorbed in those early interviews. I pinned everything on him: SCAN0082certainly the break-up of the band, as well as Ben’s drinking, Ben’s sadness, and Ben’s lack of commercial success in those turbulent 1990s.

It was my friend and podcast partner, Dave, who helped me unclench my fist. We’ve always shared a friendly “Team Ric vs. Team Ben” rivalry, and through many lengthy discussions he chipped away at my tunnel vision and illuminated the human side of Ric, the likeable side. My perception slowly shifted.

I acknowledged that Ric was the one who wrote the music that moved me, the lyrics that resonated. I admitted that I loved a lot of the songs Ric sang. I was reminded that he was Ben’s steadfast partner in chasing the dream, the two of them trekking from state to state in one band or another, both aware (subconsciously or not) that they needed each other to make it. Ric introduced us to David, Elliot, and Greg, too, when he finally solidified The Cars. I saw how in his later years Ric mellowed, spoke kindly of Ben and the band, and communicated his deep respect for the men with whom he made his mark. All these things softened me.

I’m not saying that Ric didn’t play a significant part in all of the ugly, he doesn’t get a ‘pass’ by any means. And I’m not claiming to know how deep his regrets may or may not have been. But I do believe that Ben and Ric made amends before Ben died. I believe that Ric’s love for Ben was sincere and deep, in spite of whatever divided them in the past. Elliot, Greg, and David all speak of Ric with the affection and loyalty that reflects the thick bonds of brotherhood they all shared. If those who were actually hurt by Ric can forgive him, how can I, an outside observer, hold a grudge?

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I’ve grown to genuinely admire and respect Ric so much over the last two years. He was intelligent, creative, talented, and he was an integral part of the band I love the most in this world. His death is a terrible blow, a sucker punch. Tears came unexpectedly; many, many tears. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I’d have to say goodbye to my rock idols someday… but not Ric. Not now.

There’s just such a finality in Ric’s death. It’s the end of an era. There is really no more Cars. There will be no more albums, no more tours. And what of the fabled vault? It’s excruciating to accept that so much history may be gone forever, too.

And so I focus on gratitude.

Thank you for all that your music gives me, Ric: the hyper, the healing, the escape. Thank you for the way you gave me Ben. Thank you for providing the platform for David and Greg and Elliot. Thank you for performing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2018 so I could see The Cars live. Thank you for changing the course of music history.

I don’t know exactly how the afterlife works but I suspect (and hope) that you and Ben are reunited, rockin’ and happy. Rest in peace.

March 23, 1944 ~ September 15, 2019

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Episode 47: Cap’n Swing

Episode 47 headerBefore The Cars were The Cars, there was Cap’n Swing!

In case you’re not familiar with this “almost famous band,” Cap’n Swing (CS) was Ric Ocasek’s musical effort just prior to The Cars. To read more about them on this blog, Dave created a handy link that will pull up all content with the Cap’n Swing tag. Go to tinyurl.com/capnswing. Easy peasy!

The episode starts off a little fuzzy, but it doesn’t take long for our hosts to get into the ‘swing’ of things (see what I did there??? Haha!). Donna runs down the cool history of CS and Dave recounts how the demos made their way to the ears of the Fanorama. At the time the audios surfaced many people assumed that CS was made up of the same five guys as The Cars; it wasn’t until more information was shared through social media that people were introduced to Todd Roberto, Danny (Schliftman) Louis, and Glenn Evans. Dave had compiled the songs into what he called the “Jezebel” album and made a very cool CD cover to go with it. Back in the day, the music was shared around through the mail before the songs hit the internet.

While the band wasn’t perfect, there is SO much to love about Cap’n Swing! Using their own favorite tracks as springboards, Dave and Donna take some time to discuss the differences and the similarities between the styles of Cap’n Swing and The Cars, and how that can be attributed to the difference in the two bands’ very talented lineups.  They also touch on several songs that have two versions, one sung by Ben and one sung by Ric. And don’t miss their speculation on the true meaning behind “Magic Pants.” It’ll make you want to flow-oh…

Knock knock.jpgJust a warning… There are a few little digressions in this episode, like:

  1. Why do women wear slips?
  2. Did Ben have hobbit feet?
  3. Cartoon Ric and Cartoon Ben: the day that Dave started to appreciate “Magic Pants”
  4. Donna’s impression of the Cowardly Lion
  5. How much would you pay for a Cap’n Swing CD?
  6. Rico’s tips for staying warm during this extra-cold winter

Aaaaand… Donna ends the show with a hilarious Cars joke (thanks to IO). Is it the first in the Fanorama?

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!

Episode 46: Cleveland Connection

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“Yin and yang: complementary forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts.”

Our first episode of 2019 is such a happy one!

Here’s the set-up: Dave and Donna connected through Twitter back in 2016 through their mutual love of The Cars, and they became fast friends. After months of gabbing about the band together, Dave created the podcast so the two could share their thoughts with the world, and off they went. Largely due to their perfect yin-and-yang chemistry on the show, many people do not realize that Dave and Donna had never met in person!

Well, that little factoid became null and void over the weekend of January 11-13, 2019, when fans from all over the country converged on Cleveland, Ohio, to celebrate the publishing of Joe Milliken’s wonderful biography, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars. Joe’s incredible event set the stage for Dave and Donna to be in the same room together for the first time ever.

In this episode of the podcast, the two relive their adventures together (and apart and in-between) during those whirlwind few days in Ben Orr’s hometown, including:

  1. tracking down Rock Hall Robyn,
  2. visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Archives (brilliantly pre-planned by Dave),
  3. sharing Saturday breakfast,
  4. geeking out over their private screening of Turbocharge, 
  5. gawking over Kurt Gaber’s abundant swag and surprise slideshow of Ben pics,
  6. partying at the big event: the book celebration at the Music Box Supper Club!
  7. gushing over Joe’s terrific interview, the badass concert with Moving In Stereo, and all of the beautiful people in attendance,
  8. then even more gushing about the book event — haha!,
  9. describing what it was like meeting each other for the first time,
  10. reveling in the deliciousness of a Rascal burger at 2 a.m. (for Donna, anyway!),
  11. recounting the emotions, the thrills, and the regrets of the weekend, and
  12. landing back in real life.

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From there they move into The Midnight Scroll, where listeners’ questions spark a discussion about why Ben sometimes affects a British accent, and if there is a future possibility of the other members of The Cars appearing on the podcast as guests.

Be sure to listen all the way to the end where you’ll hear Ben talking like the Fonz — and the new outro featuring our exclusive voice talent, Miss Lizzie!

Now it’s your turn: Get in touch! There are lots of ways to do it. You can email us at nightthoughtspodcast@gmail.com, or come find us on social media; join 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!

Time to click below to join the party:

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!

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!