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 – “I Am The Man” – Benjamin Orr

Today, on Song Lyric Sunday, Benjamin Orr would have been 72. I wanted to pay tribute using this week’s Bird/Fly/Sky/Wing theme, but, on July 20, 2018, I wrote about “Skyline,” the only Orr song to fit the theme. So, for the first time, my choice, “I Am The Man,” deviates. Sorry, Jim.

In late 1992 and continuing through most of the 90s, Benjamin Orr recorded tracks that were to have been his second album. He co-wrote half the songs with John Kalishes, who would become the lead guitarist in Benjamin’s ORR band. Although “I Am The Man” was recorded during this time, the writer is unknown. I’d like to think it was written by Orr and Kalishes because I interpret it as Benjamin’s response as he coped with a series of lost integral relationships: the Cars and his long friendship with Ric Ocasek, an eight-year engagement to co-writer of his first album Diane Grey Page, and a marriage to Judith Orr. In fact, I view the entire unreleased second album through that prism. Whether or not he wrote a particular song, each one fits that theme of loss, and “I Am” expresses the culmination of his struggle.

Whatever his reasons for possibly writing and definitely recording it, “I Am The Man” was important enough to him that, when the ORR band performed, he saved it for encores and for introducing his band. This video with 1997 audio from a live performance is an example. If you want to skip the band intros, they run from about 4:30 to 11:56. If you decide to skip, you’ll miss such mini-gems as “Wipe Out” and the Flintstone’s theme song played on bass. The lyric link takes you to my friend sweetpurplejune’s blog, where she has linked a video featuring the studio recording of “I Am The Man.”

 

I Am (author and copyright unknown)

I am the fire that shows no flame, I am the killer who has no name
I am the wind you cannot feel, I am the truth that is not real
I am the river that flows nowhere, I am the feeling that does not care
I am the drug your body’s been missing, I am the soul that you’ve been wishing for

I am… I am… I am… I am the man

I am the time that will not pass, I am the future living in the past
I am the shadow you cannot see, I am the prisoner you cannot free
I am the legend of lust, love and pain, I am the man who’s lost his name
I am the drug your body’s been missing, I am the soul that you’ve been wishing for

I am… I am… I am… I am the man
I am… I am… I am… I am the man
I am… I am… I am… I am the man

I am the fire that shows no flame, I am the killer who has no name
I am the wind you cannot feel, I am the truth that is not real
I am the river that flows nowhere, I am the feeling that does not care
I am the drug your body’s been missing, I am the soul that you’ve been wishing for

I am… I am… I am… I am the man

 

 

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]

 

Another Review: Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

About two months ago, I reblogged Read ~ Rock ~ Review’s “Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars” book review. That review gives a  fuller, well-rounded insight into the book being published November 11, 2018, than a more recent review has. Like the reviewer I reblogged a couple of days ago, Read ~ Rock ~ Review’s reviewer was lucky enough to read an advance copy — one of the earliest, in fact. RRR’s detailed review makes clear that reviewer actually read the entire book. Go to the link highlighted above; it’s worth a re-read. (I would reblog it for your convenience, but apparently WP will only let me reblog the original article once and won’t allow me to reblog my own posting even once.)

 

 

Let’s Go!: Benjamin Orr and the Cars (Reblog)

My copy is on the way. Can’t wait to read this!

Reblogging this without much comment may have been a knee-jerk fan-girl move on my part, but, after reflection, I have a little more to say.  First, I’m impressed that this reviewer, who doesn’t seem to be a rabid rock’n’roll / Cars / Benjamin Orr fan, has given it a respectable 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Second, the review focuses on Ben’s early life as a musician, covering roughly five to six years up to 1969 when he would have been 22 and met Ric Ocasek. Granted, you don’t want a book review to tell the whole story, but this review doesn’t do justice to either Benjamin Orr or to the writer, Joe Milliken. Ending with ” They would later become The Cars and famous, The rest is in the book and history” leaves the impression that this is just another behind-the-band story. It isn’t.

Benjamin Orr passed away at 53 years old on October 3, 2000, thirty-one years after meeting Ric Ocasek. This reviewer tossed away more than half of Orr’s life, including twelve years post-Cars. During that time he evolved as a complex man and musician. Blithely ending the review with the vague “rest is history” tells me that this reviewer likely didn’t read the entire book.

BookZone

Let’s Go! Benjamin Orr and The Cars

This was a well-researched book about The Cars and Benjamin Orr, born Orzechowski aka “Benny 11-Letters” because so many of his friends and acquaintances had trouble pronouncing his name. He was almost universally liked as he was making his way in the music business, seemingly a genuinely nice and caring man. Ben was also quite talented when it came to singing and drumming, and learning other musical instruments from what many of his friends had to say in the book. You certainly could use a scorecard for this one to keep up with all of the band incarnations and band member rotations. I was amazed at the number of times the name of the band changed, and it didn’t always depend on whether any members were moved in or out. There were some interesting anecdotes in the book of things…

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