The Missing Ingredient

I am a strong believer in the power of music. Whether it is driving down the road windows down blaring a great song and singing at the top of your lungs or turning on that just right song when you have had a bad day or enjoying a quiet morning birds singing and Mozart playing, music fills the gaps in our lives. It is immediate it is satisfying and it arouses the emotions. If you listen to a lot of music then I believe you have a healthy soul, a well nurtured soul. Since my vision impairment I am almost homebound and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my dog and if I didn’t have my music. It’s just that important.

Lately I have really been on a roll bashing country music. I don’t like much of it and what I do is generally old. Last night while thinking about my topic today I realized one other reason. Country just doesn’t have bands. There are exceptions but let me tell you what I have never heard or participated in that I have with rock and roll about a hundred times. I probably had a similar conversation like this one a hundred times in junior high and high school.

Me: “Kiss would be nothing without Ace Frehley.”

Friend: “You’re an idiot, everyone knows its Gene who keeps that band going.”

Me: “Nu uh I am not an idiot. Gene spits blood anyone can do that, Ace shreds guitar and he’s from outerspace.”

I know what you’re thinking clearly I was wrong about Ace.

Was not.

Part of loving a band is having your favorite band member. Almost everyone has a favorite Beatle, a favorite Rolling Stone. People still are upset because Steve Perry isn’t with Journey anymore. I won’t ever watch them live. I just won’t. Some bands can survive a loss be it a death or just a band member going their own way. I didn’t care at all when Peter Cetera left Chicago, good riddance to a control freak who believed he was bigger than the band but after Terry Kath died I didn’t listen to Chicago for close to 20 years. Country is about solo artists, rock and roll is about bands.

I get a lof of suggested pages on my facebook page because I am always posting music or sharing music and because I share a lot of these suggested pages or like them facebook makes sure I have a lot of them to look at. A couple of months ago a video came up of the Cars playing a song on late night television, might have been Conan from their last album Move Like This. Now I enjoyed that album but clearly there was a missing ingredient and being a Cars fan I knew what it was immediately.

The Cars were one of the bands of my high school youth which meant that we listened to them while riding around in cars. I loved them, they were and have always been one of my favorite all time bands. It always seemed that when I was with a group of my friends we always listened to the first album The Cars. That iconic intro to You’re All I’ve Got Tonight, She’s My Best Friends Girl, Moving in Stereo, All Mixed Up could be the soundtrack of my youth. Those songs can play and instantly a lot of really good memories would come up too. That is the power of music. But I am an introvert, sometimes way too much and as I have written about I had troubles and when I was alone I would always play Candy-O. It has my favorite Cars song, Dangerous Type but I also love how Shoo Be Doo rolls into Candy-O. It is my album and as you might guess a whole different set of emotions comes up when those songs play, some good, some bad, some right in the middle. I didn’t like Panorama too much and almost discarded it until I rode around in Tammy Willis’ Firebird blaring it.  Oh it was nothing romantic, it was just good honest friendship which is always the best kind.  I must have asked her to play Touch and Go and Misfit Kid a thousand times.

I love the Cars but what always made the Cars to me was the perfect interplay between Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr. Their voices just complimented each other and sometimes it’s hard to tell who is singing because it was together that they made up that signature sound. Benjamin Orr was my guy and yes a whole lot more important than Ace Frehley. Really I wasn’t that wrong, Ace was important.

Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr began playing music together in the early 70’s and they were in multiple bands together. They formed The Cars after a lot of trial and error including a folk band they were in together. Think on that. When the Cars broke up in 1988 it wasn’t because they hated each other, or creative differences. They just wanted to do other things and they had gone far enough. Orr had a wonderful solo album in the 80’s and yes its very 80’s. Most of my favorite Cars’ songs were sung by Orr. Let’s Go, Candy-O, It’s All I can Do, Bye Bye Love, and Just What I Needed. But there are two that get me. From the moment All Mixed Up begins I am lost in it, flooded. 40 years later the song gives me goose bumps still. Drive off the album Heartbeat City. I don’t analyze lyrics and for the most part it’s not what is important to me. The song means one thing per the lyrics but to me it’s all the girls who I couldn’t get close to because I wasn’t good enough, all the girls I was too afraid to approach all the girls who broke my heart and it might be the only Cars song that makes me cry.

Some bands can survive losses and some bands can’t. Some bands continue on with the belief that it will make little difference. On the liner to Move Like This Ocasek writes that Ben was there in spirit and that his spirit is throughout the album. I think the album is good but I differ in my opinion that Benjamin is there in spirit or any other way. In fact it’s the absence which grabs me, it’s the absence of his voice of his presence.

Benjamin Orr died In October of 2000 of pancreatic cancer, the same disease that took my mom. He will forever remain in my heart as my favorite member of the Cars.

And you know what dammit Ace Frehley is tons more important than Gene Simmons. Yea huh.

Mike out

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