“The time with Ben before and while he was ill were some of the most important, exciting, life- and spiritual-expanding moments I’ve ever shared with anyone. Ben taught us so much about life, in the way he went through the process of cancer treatment and in day-to-day life. He was also an absolutely fantastic father to his son, and loved him more than he ever loved anyone.” — Julie Snider-Mennie, Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars, page 192
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….
The 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.
From there they dive into the making of the Full Circle EP and its progressive expansion, covering aspects like:
- what the neighbors heard during the recording process
- how to NOT sound like Benjamin Orr
- getting permission to cover those iconic songs
- creating unique videos
- 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.
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 email@example.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!
Regarding honoring Benjamin Orr during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: “I feel like he definitely was represented. I think we all made mention. Just because we didn’t do ‘Drive,’ I don’t think there’s any disrespect meant towards Ben. If anything, I almost think the opposite, that as far as Ben’s vocal there, you can’t really replace the guy, so why attempt it?” — Greg Hawkes, NiGHT THOUGHTS: The Cars Podcast Episode 31, June 8, 2018
“Ben had the best sense of time of any person on the planet. He also had an amazing grasp of the way vocals fit into a song. Ben had a way of singing things and of putting emotion with his vocals into things like nobody else.” — John Kalishes, former guitarist and co-writer for Ben, The Boston Herald, October 5, 2000
What was the discussion in moving forward without Benjamin? “In a nutshell, we felt as though we couldn’t replace Ben, so we wouldn’t even try, and we would just come up with technological solutions to the huge gap that his… absence leaves in the band… That’s just not The Cars, you know; that’s just not us.” — Elliot Easton, interview with Slacker Radio at Lollapalooza, 2011