“Le Grand Chapeau”

Okay, so this is another one of my nerdy little mysteries … at least, it used to be!

I had heard this one 1987 interview on Youtube quite a while ago. It’s Ric and Ben with the late Bob Coburn on Rockline. A caller asked the guys what they do after a show, and Ben gave a rather odd and cryptic answer, which cracked Ric up, but left me baffled. Well, here… Take a listen:

Now what could he possibly mean? Surely not a literal hat, like his black bolero one from the Shake It Up days. Hmmm. Since I always chew on Ben’s words and turn them over and over in my head, his response really stood out to me but there was just no way I could figure out what in the heck he was talking about. So… I’m sure you can imagine how my eyes popped out of my head when I was reading Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars by Joe Milliken and I got to this part on page 108:

“The Cars had no drug scene. Most, as I recall, smoked cigarettes and pot, which was referred to as ‘putting on a hat’ or ‘le grand chapeau.'” ~ Stephen Bickford

Ahhhh! So that is what Ben meant! Goofy boy. He sounds so pleased with himself, too, the way he is snickering at his own joke. Hahaha!

Well, I guess we can lay that little riddle to rest.

Oh, and just to clarify, Stephen Bickford is a talented set designer who started working and traveling with The Cars around the time they were making Candy-O. He’s also the guy who (thankfully!) filmed a lot of the backstage antics that ended up in the epic The Cars: Unlocked DVD, and is credited with some great photos of Ben and the band, like this one:

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Benjamin Orr, 1982. Photo by Stephen Bickford.

In other words:

What was the extent of (Benjamin’s) contribution to the band? “Well, his looks (laughs). He had the wonderful voice that I mentioned… He could play more than just bass, he could play any instrument. He played drums for awhile… ” — Ric Ocasek, “Town Hall with Ric Ocasek” on SiriusXM, April 28, 2016

Lyrics: Silver

Silver (written by Ric Ocasek, ©2005)

Appearing as track five on Ric’s 2005 solo album Nexterday, “Silver” was apparently written as Ric’s tribute to Benjamin. Greg Hawkes played the keyboards.

You were my silver, you were my gold

You were all the things that can’t be told.

You were my star falling through the night

You were the one that showed me grand delight

I can’t see you, but I need you, you’re gone… yeah, you’re gone… yeah, you’re gone away

 

You were my right hand, you were my friend

You were always strong until the end

You were my good time, you were my rave

You’re the one that always set the stage

What I once knew, now I miss you, you’re gone… yeah, you’re gone… yeah, you’re gone away

 

Now I spend my lonely nights wishing you were here to make things right

And turn my darkness into light

 

‘Cause you were my party, you were my tea

You’re the one that had some faith in me

You’re what I once knew, now I miss you, you’re gone… you’re gone… you’re gone away

 

You were my good time, you were my rave… you’re the one that always set the stage….

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!

2019… What more could there be?

2019… What more could there be?

Two thousand eighteen has been SO good to Cars fans! Can you believe these delights?

The band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ♥ The Cars playing together again live ♥ new interviews and memories shared by all four of the guys ♥ the release of two more expanded editions with their yummy bonus material ♥ vintage audio unearthed from The Grasshoppers, Mixed Emotions, Richard and The Rabbits and Cap’n Swing ♥ the publication of Joe Milliken’s biography of Benjamin Orr ♥ a whole crop of unique photos surfacing from fans and rock photographers…

WOW! It just seems like the whole year has been a big pile of gifts for us to unwrap, one at a time!

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And then for me, on a personal level, there is this whole other layer… a thick flannel blanket of memories I keep wrapping around myself:

Being invited to partner with Joe on the publication of his book ♥ driving into Cleveland for the first time ♥ bawling my eyes out after the induction ceremony ♥ David Robinson’s warm hands holding mine ♥ getting to hug SO many Fanorama friends (without using emojis!) ♥  having Greg Hawkes call my house in preparation for our podcast ♥ the shock of seeing my writing on big-screen display at the Rock Hall’s Foster Theater ♥ connecting with all of the wonderful people I’ve met this year ♥ finally getting to view Turbocharge ♥ being published in Rock Cellar Magazine

You guys, I feel like the list might never end. I’m so unbelievably grateful!

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After all that … is there anything left? Can anything possibly compare to 2018: The Year of The Cars?

To be honest, in some ways I do think these past twelve months were the pinnacle. I believe the curtain has closed with a gentle swoosh on our boys. I mean, I have to face the fact that there will likely be no new material from The Cars, and probably not from Ric as a solo artist, either. And no more live performances as a group. Though I am disappointed, I am not shaking my fist at the sky… I mean, these guys had a great run. A GREAT run! How can I begrudge them riding off into the sunset after all they’ve done?

However, they still leave their legacy for us and the generations to come, and I do believe there is still more to be revealed.

So what hope do we have for excitement in 2019?

Some sure things:

  1. We know we will still have the joy of hearing Elliot play. His current band, The Empty Hearts, is working on a second album, and I am optimistic that it will be released in the coming months. Always a busy man, Elliot seems to show up on a variety of stages, playing charity shows and jamming with friends. He also mentioned that he will be starting up a Youtube channel  in the coming months. How cool is that?
  2. Greg, too, continues to delight us with his musical talents. He has been having a blast touring with Todd Rundgren during the last year, and will continue to play with him through the months of 2019 as Todd embarks on an author event/concert series to promote his new book, The Individualist – Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations. I believe that Greg will record another episode of Night Thoughts, too. Can’t wait!

Fingers crossed for:

  1. Expanded editions of Door to Door  and  Move Like This. The odds are not in my favor on that, I know. The general feeling is that the band has exhausted its store of extras, but I can’t help but hope that when Ric takes a break from his art he’ll go through that vault one more time and turn up some goodies for us.
  2. And when he does sort through his stuff…  perhaps he’ll also turn up some old videos of live performances and interviews, audio recordings of the same, or a photo album he wants to share, or even just memorabilia he’d be willing to display on social media. I always want more of that kind of stuff! Or course, it’s not only on Ric. We are discovering all sorts of things floating around that fans and people ‘in the biz’ are digging up, and I am optimistic that we’ll be treated to more of that along the way.
  3. Joe has been kicking around the idea of doing a companion book to share more of the pictures Ben’s friends and family so generously gave him — and he’s had lots of encouragement!  It’s probably not feasible for that to be a done deal in the next twelve months with Let’s Go! still on its honeymoon, but I would love to at least hear that it’s an ‘official’ project.
  4. On that subject… With Let’s Go!  on bookshelves now, I can’t help but wonder if any of the other guys will be inspired to have their stories penned and published? That would be amazing. And if I may say so… I do have some experience in that field now, you know… so uh… call me? Hahaha! Wouldn’t I just DIE?

On my own agenda?

  1. “It’s my party, have some fun!” Okay, so it’s not technically MY party, but I am so excited for the upcoming book events for Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars! Being involved in the organization and promotion means I have the perfect excuse to attend them. I’ll be leaving for Cleveland in less than two weeks (hooray!), and I’m looking forward to Boston a little later on. Woot woot!
  2. Sunshine and Rainbows galore! NiGHT THOUGHTS: The Cars Podcast is still going strong (45 episodes in the can!) and Dave and I are eagerly looking forward to what 2019 holds for us. We have some exciting special guests coming up, a whole pile of topics, and more goofy shenanigans, guaranteed. Who knows how long we will continue this little hobby, but we’re having a blast!
  3. Typing Frog GIF - Muppet KermitTheFrog Type GIFsWriting, writing, and more writing!  With my book responsibilities winding down I anticipate being able to turn my focus back to my own little scribblings. This blog is definitely in need of attention! Haha!  I have many drafts in various stages of completion (including a Standing Room Only article that I promised Joe back in March – yikes!) and a whole list of research ideas collecting dust. Outside of that, I have been offered some more freelance work from a publisher who hired me for a piece earlier this year, and I am eager to take him up on it.

All in all, I am convinced that the next 365 days will be filled with fun and frolic in the Cars world, and I can hardly wait to share it all with you! What about you? What kinds of happy things are YOU anticipating in 2019? Comment below or find me on Facebook!