Song Lyric Sunday – “Don’t Tell Me No” and “Don’t Go To Pieces” – The Cars

The last time I featured a Cars song for Song Lyric Sunday was September 22, 2019. That’s too long ago. This week’s theme Did/Didn’t/Do/Don’t/Does/Doesn’t gives me the opportunity to remedy that oversight. Quite a few Cars songs would fit, but I’m featuring two of the best, both relatively-unknown: “Don’t Tell Me No” and “Don’t Go To Pieces.”

As with all Cars songs, Ric Ocasek wrote both, but “Don’t Go To Pieces” is one of the few Cars songs for which he shares co-writing credit with someone — Greg Hawkes, the Cars’ “jack of all trades,” whose contributions to the Cars included keyboards, synth, sax, percussion, and background vocals.

Both songs were released as singles, but neither charted. “Don’t Tell Me No,” the second single off the Panorama album, was released in November, 1980, with “Don’t Go To Pieces” on the B-side. “Don’t Go To Pieces” was released again in January, 1981, as the B-side of the third Panorama album single “Gimme Some Slack” (which also didn’t chart.) “Don’t Go To Pieces” did not appear on a Cars album until the Just What I Needed Anthology album in 1995 but was also included with the Panorama expanded edition released in 2017. Although commercially unsuccessful, both songs are cult-favorites in the Fanorama. (Considering how many times DGTP was released, I wonder if Ric Ocasek also had a soft spot for it.)

Both songs are showcases for Benjamin Orr’s vocal versatility. I’ll start with my fave:

 

Don’t Go To Pieces

What’s it gonna be?
Red jacket girl, lover, midnight spree
What’s it gonna be?
You look so imperial

What’s it gonna be?
You tried and you tried
But you couldn’t hook your shoelace
What’s it gonna be?
Know you got intention, difficult to see

You can make the switch
You can have your wish

What’s it gonna prove?
Turning all the dials, makin’ all the right moves
What’s it gonna prove?
It’s all so mystical

What’s it gonna prove?
You look so tacky in your chrome drip belt
What’s it gonna prove?
You’re ready to rage and startin’ to melt down

You can make the switch
You can have your wish

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-baby
Don’t go to pieces
Don’t go to pieces, b-b-baby
Don’t go to pieces

What’s it gonna show?
All left out and ready to go
What’s it gonna mean?
You feel like trash but you look so clean

What’s it gonna do?
All of them angels jealous of you
Where’s it gonna go?
Anyplace, faster pace, overcome the low blow

You can make the switch
(Ooo)
You can have your wish

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-baby
Don’t go to pieces
Don’t go to pieces, b-b-baby
Don’t go to pieces

Don’t go to pieces, b-b-baby
Don’t go to pieces
(Ooo)
Don’t go to pieces, b-baby
(Ooo)

(Ooo)
Don’t go to pieces
(Ooo)
Don’t go to pieces, b-baby
(Ooo)
Don’t go to pieces
(Ooo)

 

 

It’s my party, you can come
It’s my party, have some fun
It’s my dream, have a laugh
It’s my life, have a half, well
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no (I like it when you tell me slow)
It’s my transition, it’s my play
It’s my phone call to beta ray
It’s my hopscotch, light the torch
It’s my downtime, feel the scorch, well
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no (I don’t like it when you tell me no)
It’s my ambition, it’s my joke
It’s my teardrop, emotional smoke
It’s my mercy, it’s my plan
I want to go to futureland, well
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no (I like it when you tell me slow)
Don’t tell me no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no, no, no, no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me, I don’t want to know)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no, no, no, ay (don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no (Don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no, no (don’t tell me no, no, don’t tell me no)
Don’t tell me no
Don’t tell me no (don’t tell me, you have to go, don’t tell me no)

 

 

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday – “Magic Pants” — Cap’n Swing

At 8:49 p.m. last Sunday, September 15, this message popped up in my Facebook feed: “Rip Ric O Omg I am in shock !!!😱😱😱.” “Somebody’s sick idea of a joke,” I thought. I searched through my slew of Cars-related FB memberships, but no where did I find any other mention of his passing. Less than ten minutes later, my feed contained nothing but reactions to the unbelievable news that the Cars’ founder Ric Ocasek had, indeed, passed. Now, a week later, the FANORAMA is still reeling. 

To many, Ric was a lyrical genius and a hero/role model. His music and creativity inspired so many musicians, known and unknown, to pick up an instrument, write songs, start a band. His words and music reached in and grabbed the souls of many of us. But more than anything, Ric was the foundation of the Cars. For over a decade, together with Benjamin Orr, he gathered musicians, forming and re-forming bands for the sole purpose of playing the songs he wrote, until he found the magical combination that joined with him and Benjamin to become the Cars: Greg Hawkes, Elliot Easton, and David Robinson. The Cars would not have been the Cars without them. After Ben passed away, the other Cars didn’t even try to replace him when they put out an album of new music in 2011. But make no mistake: Without Ric Ocasek there will be no new Cars music, no reunion album. No Cars. 

When I got that first Facebook notification last Sunday, I was looking at the Song Lyric Sunday schedule, trying to decide what to write. I was too stunned to write anything last week, but I knew then what song I’d pick for this week’s theme of Clothing/Hat/Pants/Scarf/Shirt/Shoes/Tie: “Magic Pants (a.k.a. Crazy Rock and Roll)” by Ric’s last pre-Cars band, Cap’n Swing. I’ve loved this song from my first listen because it is one of the few Ric (presumably) wrote that could have only one interpretation. It was all about Ric (Cap’n Swing) and Ben (Magic Pants) trying to make it in the music business. Now, somewhere in the universe, I hope Cap’n Swing and Magic Pants are making music again together.

Note: the picture on the video is the Cars, but (to my knowledge) no pictures of the Cap’n Swing band exist. Three of the Cars were in Cap’n Swing: Elliot Easton (center), Ric Ocasek (jumping), and Benjamin Orr (right).

 

 

Magic Pants

Cap’n Swing and Magic Pants they were floating down the street
Trying to get a gig or two where they can get some heat
Everybody feels their presence, everybody flows
Find a groove to settle in, let your feelings be the show
It will make you want to flow, crazy rock and roll, it’ll make you want to flow

Cap’n Swing and Magic Pants, they were shooting out their licks
Shooting out their music if you think you need a fix
Everybody feels their presence, some of you have heard
With Cap’n Swing and Magic Pants, listen is the word
It will make you want to flow, crazy rock and roll, it’ll make you want to flow

Yeah yeah

You know that Cap’n Swing and Magic Pants they were floating down the street
Trying to get a gig or two where they can get some heat
Everybody feels their presence, everybody flows
Find a groove to settle in, let your feelings be the show
It will make you want to flow, crazy rock and roll, it’ll make you want to flow

Cap’n Swing, yeah Magic Pants

 

Song Lyric Sunday — “Down Boys”

Even when she’s not feeling great, Helen Vahdati still manages to come up with a theme for Song Lyric Sunday. I hope she’s soon feeling 100%. Thanks for giving us “boys.

In my world, there’s a Cars song for every occasion. Here’s “Down Boys” written by Ric Ocasek; sung by Benjamin Orr for The Cars 1980 Panorama:

 

Down Boys

you were trying to be cute
and it didn’t work out
you were trying to be charming
and it didn’t come off
you were trying to be clever
a big waste of time
you were trying to get rough
but you’re waiting in line

[Chorus:]
you can’t make it with the down boys
they don’t hear a word you say
you can’t make it with the down boys
just stay out of their way

you were trying to be sharp
but they couldn’t wait
you were trying to be eternal
but that didn’t rate
you were trying to be smooth
you’re rough on the edges
you were trying to be hysterical
well i still ain’t laughing

[Chorus]

you were trying to be in
but they left you out
you were trying to be in
two different worlds
you were trying to be in
oscillation in shame
you were trying to be in
but you’re lost in the game

[Chorus]

 

Song Lyric Sunday — “Take What You Want”

Can you believe it? I almost forgot it’s Song Lyric Sunday! This week’s theme is the flip side of last weeks’s give/giving theme: take/taking.  I’ve got a perfect song for it, too.  The Cars’ “Take What You Want” video from their 1979 Musikladen performance has my favorite rock ‘n’ roll visual: Benjamin Orr’s “rock god” kick. ❤  This performance also has one of Elliot Easton’s best lead guitar solos. And, Ric Ocasek’s always cryptic lyrics include another one of my favorites:  “I live on emotion / And comic relief.”  I could wax rhapsodic about this song but could never match my friend sweetpurplejune (also a fan of the kick).  All I can say is, I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I do!

 

“Take What You Want”
Take what you want
And leave what you don’t
Take what you want
And leave what you don’t
I’m painting a face
The color is dripping
Magnesium moments
In black fairy tales
I live on emotion
And comic relief
I put this one on you
Run, run, run like a thief
Am I all alone?
Am I all alone?
Salamander sunrise
Comes at 4:44
Lingerie madness
Don’t you kick down the door
Sweet Sarah’s so wild
Don’t you know why I’m losing your head
Down the dark alley
Where rumours are spread
The room is so dark
I’m catching on fire
I’m in love with your face
It’s so confused by desire
Am I all alone? Am I all alone?
I’m winding it up
It’s running back down
I’m winding it up
t’s running back down
So take what you want
And leave what you don’t
Take it
Take it
Take it
Songwriters: Ric Ocasek
Take What You Want lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

Song Lyric Sunday: “Drive” (or, Benjamin Orr’s voice)

OK….You know the saying “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” when someone judges you for day drinking? Well, as soon as I saw this theme ….. “it’s Sunday somewhere.” Song Lyric Sunday, that is; with a theme of Drive/Driving! Thank you, Helen Vahdati!

Drive
written by Ric Ocasek; sung by Benjamin Orr

Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late
Who’s gonna tell you things aren’t so greatYou can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong
Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?Who’s gonna pick you up when you fall
Who’s gonna hang it up when you call
Who’s gonna pay attention to your dreams
Who’s gonna plug their ears when you scream

You can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong
Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

Who’s gonna hold you down when you shake
Who’s gonna come around when you break

You can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong
Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

You know you can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong
Who’s gonna drive you home tonight?

 

Because you can’t have too much  Benjamin Orr:

 

Three seems like overkill ( to you, maybe, but not to me or my pal sweetpurplejune), but I had to throw this one in for a change of pace. It’s really worth listening to.