Friday, December 15, 2006

Just what I needed . . . a tribute to Benjamin Orr

My true rock and roll love will always be Benjamin Orr. For me, there will never be another musician who stirred all the passions in me . . . his stage personna, the self-assured presence, the way he arrogantly puckered his mouth and the thing he did with his eyes . . . OMG . . . the most handsome man in rock and roll with those striking good looks, the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard, awesome talent with charisma to spare . . . I could go on and on, but I won't bore you. This is the only musician that I would sit on the phone all day long listening to ring ring ring to ensure that I got my few seconds of talking to him on a syndicated radio show that he was going to be on that evening . . . I did get to talk to him FOR REAL and I waited on the phone all day long so I could. What a treat it was to hear that voice on the other end of the phone . . . don't laugh, I'm just a loyal fan.

When I heard that he had died, it was as if a friend had passed on. It was a shock, I had not even heard that he was sick. Most successful bands go on a long hiatus to enjoy their money and unwind, so I didn't think anything of their absence. The realization hit that there would be no more anticipation for new songs, no more concerts or "Ben appearances" to look forward to . . . and my favorite band of all time, The Cars, would never be the same again. It was one of the saddest days of my life. The end of a music era . . . for me it was the line in the song "American Pie" . . . the day the music died . . . I had thought the same thing the day John Lennon was killed, no Beatles reunion or the chance they would record new music again.

The musical sound of The Cars brings back the 80's for me . . . the best time of my life, so far. They emerged in an avalanche of newcomers with the new sound of punk and new wave, the successors of disco. New wave music to me is glitzy rock and roll with a twist of raunchiness. David Bowie said it all with one of his pseudo names, Ziggy Stardust.

What a pleasure it was to have been to several of The Cars concerts. Each one a slick production with studio quality sound . . . evidence of excellent musicians, the ones who actually sound good live without the aid of studio magic.

It was the music I listened to at the happiest time of my life . . . when I met my husband, fell in love and got married. I'm sure you are not surprised to know that I have everything recorded by The Cars and Benjamin Orr . . . actually, I also have solo recordings of the other guys in the band, but not sure if I have them all. One of my most treasured CD includes their demo recordings of unreleased songs and some of their most famous in the demo version . . . some of them sound like they were recorded in their garage and maybe they were.

You know what has gotten me so pissed off this holiday season? The Circuit City television commercials with the song "Just What I Needed" playing the background. Ok, I know this is how musicians and songwriters make money and all that . . . I'm not sure how copyright works with music, maybe the song is no longer protected by copyright and anyone can use it in this manner. It just seems so sad for one of my favorite songs of all time to be associated with the greedy holiday commercialism that escalates and starts earlier every year. Seems like selling out something great and making it cheap and trashy . . .

They were just college preppy guys from Boston who started out as a folk group and ended up being the pioneers of new wave music . . . their roots still live in new music I hear today . . . the new generation of new wave . . . some of it with the gothic edge. For sure I'll explore that topic another day soon.

He is my all time favorite musician, Benjamin Orr, and the band he helped to make one of the best ever, The Cars . . .

Benjamin Orr (1986)
Too Hot To Stop

Benjamin Orr (1986)
Stay the Night

Benjamin Orr . . . you are loved, missed and will never be forgotten . . . you live on in our hearts and in the beautiful music you made.


Cindy said...

Thank you for posting photos of Benjamin Orr. I completely agree with your assessment of him. I was 14 when I first heard the Cars, and I loved them immediately. Their sound always takes me back to that era. Benjamin was such a sexy, attractive man with a beautiful voice! He sang most of my favourite Cars song (no coincidence there). Very sad that he's gone. The rumour is that the Cars are reuniting, and although I'm very happy about it, it won't be quite the same.

Gina Alfani said...

You are welcome! And yes, very sad indeed . . . he is missed.

Always awesome to hear from other fans of Benjamin Orr :-)