In other words:

“Ben Orr was our rock star. When he sang ‘Drive’ the girls just swooned… What a great artist he was.” — Liberty DeVitto, long-time drummer for Billy Joel and Ben’s Big People bandmate; interview with Modern Drummer Magazine, July 16, 2020

In other words:

“Ben was just a terrific singer… he reminded me of Rutger Hauer but with a great voice! I didn’t know The Cars well in the early days, but got to know Ben a little bit in his post-Cars days. He was a great guy, very talented, and a real pro in the studio.” — Charlie Farren, Boston-area vocalist and guitar player, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, by Joe Milliken

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1993. Charlie Farren (top left) and Brad Delp (bottom right) sang the backing vocals on Ben’s unreleased second solo album. Photo courtesy of Charlie Farren

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

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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.

In other words:

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“I honestly cannot recall how Ben was originally exposed to ‘River of Fire.’ I only heard one early demo of the song, and I remember that some of the lyrics had been changed but I didn’t care, I was just thrilled that Ben Orr was singing one of my songs!

I did meet Ben years later when I was with Styx and his Big People band was touring with us. I had a couple opportunities to have a conversation with him and it was a big deal for me because I always thought Ben was very cool.” — Glen Burtnik, co-writer of “River of Fire” (recorded for Benjamin’s unreleased second solo album), Standing Room OnlyJanuary 28, 2015

Lyrics: River of Fire

River of Fire (written by Stan Meissner and Glen Burtnik*, ©1992)

 

My life you hold in your heart

I look for the light, I wait in the dark

Burning emotions, I’m drawn to the flame

Chasing the shadows that call out your name

 

Searching for some kind of escape, I find my way right here to this place

‘Cause the night has no end

All of my life my dreams run wild, now I stand alone in this river of fire

Days of despair and nights of desire, I wait for you in this river of fire

 

I still remember the look in your eyes

I wish I knew then that it was goodbye

I try to fight it but I know I can’t win

Sometimes your dreams just get lost in the wind

 

Something beyond all time and space leads me right back here to this space

At the edge of this world

All of my life my dreams run wild, now I stand alone in this river of fire

Days of despair and nights of desire, I wait for you in this river of fire

 

Burn for you… burn for you… burn for you… burn for you…

 

All of my life my dreams run wild, now I stand alone in this river of fire

Days of despair and nights of desire, I wait for you in this river of fire

*The original composition had some differences in the first verse; I transcribed the lyrics as Benjamin sings them.

 

Raising them right.

I have four kids, ages 10-17,  and for the most part, they do not enjoy listening to the Cars. They tolerate it fairly quietly, although whenever we get in the car they beg, “Please, Mama, NOT the Cars!” But if they *have* to listen to anything Cars-related (and they often do) they prefer Benjamin’s solo stuff. As you can imagine, that is FINE with me!

So… a funny thing happened this weekend…  I had to give my 13yo daughter instructions on the proper time and place to ‘go deeper’ about the Cars. Hahaha!

We met another parent while we were at my youngest son’s soccer game and the subject of music came up. EG (my precocious one) asked him if he had ever heard of the Cars, because her mother was obsessed with them. Yep, of course he’d heard of them, he said. Sooo…  EG launched into a monologue on the merits of Benjamin’s voice on his solo work (she prefers the unreleased tracks over The Lace because, as she notes, “his voice sounds so much more mature and he seems to really believe in the lyrics he’s singing”), and she is really getting into her little speech when…

I notice the other parent’s eyes had glazed over (just before he turned his head to look anywhere else but at her), and he mumbled something about how he likes all genres of music… before he abruptly moved away.  So I gently told my daughter, “Honey, some people just listen to the Cars on the radio and they don’t really want to discuss it.” She just shook her head — foreign concept. We had a good laugh over it.

Here’s her “all-time favorite” Benjamin song (the one she says she’s going to sing if she ever gets on America’s Got Talent — LOL):