LX Commentary #14: Vibe So Hot

Onto side C, where we kick off the second record with a mondegreen.

One of my favorite lyrics in “Vibe So Hot” is when Benji Hughes sings “I’m standing in a cape on your lawn.”

Only that’s not the line. It’s “I’m singing in a camp on your lawn.”

“Musician With Cape” painting by Charlotte artist Kirk Fanelly, 2009, Pastel on Paper, 22×19

It took Priscilla Ahn’s cover version to make me realize my error (fun fact: Jonathan Wilson’s cover goes “singing to the bird on your lawn”), but when it came time to write the L Extreme chapter I owned my mistake and did it the way I always heard it.

What would someone standing in a cape on someone’s lawn do? Especially if that someone had a jambox at their disposal?

Sometimes stories write themselves. From here we take our cues from most of the remaining lyrics in something resembling a play by play of a song that isn’t that type.

Plot-wise I knew it was time to get the whole gang together and moving towards a resolution of what was set up on the first two sides, so here we have Benji, C, L, and Frank all interacting (albeit sometimes from afar) for the first time.

Other tidbits:

  • Side C’s title bounced between Love is Weird, Love is Wild, and Love is Far Out over the years—all nods to spoken word segue samples found on OXOXOXOXOX (aka A Lovers Extreme). I considered changing it per format so the ebook/paperback/hardcover would each be different. I also almost used all three, but didn’t like the way it looked in print. So officially it’s far out, but spiritually it’s all of the above.
  • Edit: Old note I found in an early draft: “Love is a weird, wild, far out extreme razor on a budget you still gotta do next time (maybe, I think) everybody, fall me in.” Maybe the 3 part title wasn’t so crazy…
  • The song “Turn on the Charm” felt like a natural companion piece to “Vibe So Hot”
    No dials to break off in real life.
    for reasons I can’t quite articulate.
  • It took a long time to get the continuity of the jambox controls right between chapters. It deviates slightly from how a jambox actually works, but these things matter.
  • L lives on the third story since this is Side C—the third story of the book.
    “As their star-crossed eyes intertwined from afar, Benji was reminded of a movie from 1996 based on a play from 1597 (pilfered from an older poem) that inspired the classic 1980s song currently playing on the jambox.”
  • Where else can you find three Dire Straits jokes in a row? Over here.
  • “A week of bad songs” was quoted out of context from this Vulture interview, while “situations with the neighbors” is something Benji says in a promo video for A Love Extreme.
  • I didn’t know C would be the DJ or Frank would return here until I wrote the scene, but it’s a great off the cuff right place / right time situation.
  • “I thought he couldn’t speak” is another LILILIL reference about Space People. Invoking hat line is the main reason for Frank’s silence at their first meeting and Heartman & Songstress’s silent movie origins. I tried rewriting Frank’s intro to allow for talking, but ultimately preferred introducing him as a strong silent type.
  • Remember earlier when C said “I can’t recall” would be a better alibi than “I had
    I really liked that Musician With Cape painting.
    bronchitis” back in “You Stood Me Up” a few chapters ago? It’s almost like Frank was dropping eaves…
  • Another draft had Frank solely speaking in Frankenstein quotes. That gimmick couldn’t quite carry all of his dialogue, but was fun enough to keep a smattering of for phrasings like “I am fearless and therefore powerful” and “she might refuse to comply with a compact made before her own creation.” (There’s also a plot reason Frank knows these excerpts we’ll get to later.)
  • I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” is the song John Lennon actually wrote, not “He Ain’t Heavy” from the trippy Chapter 1. Another part of the in-joke here is Benji Hughes also has a song titled “I Want You.”
  • “Could she not understand why the little voice inside her head was now outside her head?” is a big clue hidden plainly in the narrator’s rambling non-sequiturs.

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