The song may be about going away, but ironically it helped pull the musical concept of the book together. It was also one of my favorite chapters to write. The lyrical breadcrumbs showed me connections to other Benji Hughes songs so clearly it made me start seeking them elsewhere. Benji & Jessica are at a grocery store:
“You could make the grocery store a party, you could make a funeral rad.” — “Where Do Old Lovers Go?“
“There was a time when we stood in the line at the grocery store waiting to pay. Staring at all of the magazine covers…” — “Do You Still Love Me?“
“They say that Taylor Swift got fat…Heard Elton John’s breaking up with his man…Some people think that Elvis died…Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I don’t believe it.” — “Everybody Falls In Love“
Circling back to “You could make a funeral rad,” gave me the next destination. On the way they’d stop at a tennis court:
“We were playing tennis. It was your serve. Love love, I was pretty sure.” — “Higher Than Balls“
And after the rad funeral they’d talk about death and how to avoid it…
“If we turn all of the lights out, lay down real quiet and pretend that we’re dead.” — “Let’s Not Ever Die“
As always, the situations found in the Benji Hughes lyrics paved the way for the story of L Extreme to tell itself.
Originally this chapter also included an extended Jessica flashback based on the songs “Jamaica” and “Kenny” — but the little C (and little Squeak from LILILIL) in my head knew I had to get to the point a little faster. That bonus double A-Side single got relocated to “Ladies on Parade,” allowing this chapter to serve as an appetizer to the big left turn coming next…
- Benji was scheduled to do a performance of all Elvis covers at a show in LA. The concert got cancelled, but inspired the live Elvis album here. (Also, Elvis is another guy who can rock a white jumpsuit without looking like a doofus.)
- In album time, Side B of A Love Extreme clocks in at 17 minutes and 14 seconds. Awfully specific indeed.
- “Garlic Power” was an actual typo that I turned into a plot point.
- After Benji’s 12/10/11 show at Spaceland in LA (I refuse to call it the Satellite…), I grabbed the setlist off the stage. It was written on the back of an envelope from the City of LA—though the violation was leaving trashcans on the street and not parking. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
- The green smock and the teen worker stocking shelves are a nod to my high school job at The Christmas Tree Shop. Never let a good story get in the way of the truth.
- Mötley Crüe’s headline is a play on how Benji Hughes sometimes changes the lyric “Do you still think one day you’re gonna have a couple kids?” to “Do you still think one day you’re gonna marry Nikki Sixx?” during live shows.
- HER HIDDEN TALENT? riffs on the song “What You Don’t Know“
- The homophone joke always makes me laugh, including right now as I write this.
- My favorite deleted scene from this chapter came from our intrusive narrator, but I cut it because it was a little indulgent and caused unnecessary confusion about the setting:
Flashing back to our flashback that’s already backflashing, we need to catch up to Benji and Jessica in the church. The thing is, when we got there we wouldn’t find them in the church. Where’s all the people? might be your first question upon learning this. And if you acted that out with your hands, I applaud you. Or I would if my hands weren’t locked together in the shape of a church. In this case, a church without any fingers in it. Because Benji and Jessica weren’t in the church. They were next door to the church.
- Speaking of church, seven empty pews in front of Benji = seven songs/chapters prior to this one.
- My family rented a party bus with bench seating along the sides, a stereo, disco ball, cupholders and dancing pole to take us to the cemetery after my grandmother’s funeral. A few days later I saw a Benji Hughes concert at the Bootleg Theater in LA. He opened the second set with “I Hate When Pretty Ladies Die” and I cried. A few months later I added the party bus here.
- “She watched them float above the power lines in the backyard.”
- “If your house burns down,” Jessica said as she eyed the flames, “it wasn’t me.” That’s from a song by Vincent & Mr. Green (aka Jade Vincent & Keefus Ciancia) featuring guest vocals by Benji Hughes.
- The famous chef referred to as “Benji with a K” is none other than J-Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, Cooks Illustrated & NY Times fame. He also does infer you can dry rub a vegetable, though he may or may not approve of my fictionalized spice rub ingredients.
- “Isn’t someone always playing the Eagles somewhere?” was originally the Beatles, but Joe Walsh’s namecheck in the song “The Mummy” led me back here. My mom swears that “Hotel California” came on the radio at roughly the exact same moment she read that line for the first time.
Check out L Extreme