LX Commentary #21: Kenny

Bonus track time!

Or said differently, I cheated again…

First I swapped the order of Mmmmmmm & Even If. Here I’m including a song that isn’t actually on A Love Extreme. Why? It’s complicated.

In the first draft this flashback to Jessica meeting Kenny in Jamaica was the second half of “Where Do Old Lovers Go?“—slotted right after the bit where Benji asks what the deal is with the magic shows at funerals.

When I realized the importance of getting to Heartman & Songstress on Side B faster, this was an obvious segment to cut. It came too early, was an unplanned change of POV that stole thunder from the upcoming intentional left turn, and at the time felt like more of a side story. I figured I’d stash it away as a bonus short story and strike it from the official L Extreme record.

By the time Side D flipped the record to L’s perspective I knew I needed a companion piece to go with You Stood Me Up—and as luck would have it I already did!

For awhile it was part of Ladies On Parade, but felt overly long and tacked on. It needed to stand alone. I toyed with naming the cruise ship “The Jubalee” and letting this become that song’s chapter, but didn’t love the idea of adding a florist/iced tea shop/circus to the boat’s festivities. The storyline was a mashup of the songs “Kenny” (a single that debuted over the last scene from the third season finale of Eastbound and Down) plus “Jamaica” from the Appetizer EP and later on XXOXOXX / Another Extreme with a touch of “…Old Lovers…” The logical move was to break from the track-by-track album mold and insert a Kenny chapter, but deep down I knew it technically didn’t belong here.

Frank gave me the answer one night while I revised Ladies on Parade. “Look for something else that shouldn’t be here and you’ll have your answer.” That line already existed for completely unrelated reasons. All I had to do was cheekily set it up as the closing segue and ba-ba-ba-boomshakala, here we are with a carved out bonus 45 inch non-album single.

Tidbits:

  • Speaking of bonus 45s, I almost named this chapter “Kenny b/w Jamaica” like an old record, but didn’t want to spoil the illusion that this book might not actually be based on an album for those not in the know so I kept it simple.
  • “Sometimes, people have to dream.”
    Artwork to the digital single “Kenny” by Benji Hughes
    Eastbound & Down the TV show was set in Shelby, NC, hence DJ “sings something synonymous with Shelby.”
  • “I stood somebody up” isn’t completely accurate, but close enough to justify the parallel.
  • Chronologically, the Jamaica scenes are the earliest part of the book’s scrambled timeline. So it goes.
  • Trading bonds as a profession isn’t a lyrical reference, but since the girl in the tight tee shirt used to be a paralegal, wants to be a doctor or maybe train horses, and works at the circus selling cotton candy the door was open to add one more job. As Benji said back in that song’s chapter “She’s a little indecisive about a career.”
  • “Like an actress practicing lines for the stage” is a holdover from when this section closed Ladies On Parade, riffing on the “like you’re the star in some movie” lyric.
  • Though not intended as a TV crossover, if your mind’s eye sees Danny McBride as Kenny Powers while reading I won’t object.
  • This is my favorite joke that few appreciate:

“How clever!” Jessica replied. Though she didn’t rep, she just lied. It wasn’t all that clever.

  • “They don’t have twenty cent coins in Jamaica. You gave him forty dollars.”
    If you paused to look up exchange rates for Jamaican currency, that’s exactly what I hoped you’d do.
  • Another personal favorite (non-lyrical) lines is the “A thin thread count divides a sleepless night from a restless one” bit.
  • By now we know why her feet were cold. There’s a deleted scene earlier where the men in the feet have an ice maker, but I thought it was a little too unrealistic (I know, I know!) so I dropped it.
  • The section Everything Will Be Alright is named after an instrumental, allowing for a dreamy interlude based on the lyrics Benji Hughes co-wrote for the song Let’s Duet” from the film Walk Hard. (The dream almost started “Two messages. Both opposing…” but as the oldest flashback that structure didn’t fit the plot reasons for the other similarities.)
  • “Do you still want to meet up?…I don’t” is loosely based on my actual planned first date with my wife.
  • Security Administrators Limited is essentially the maritime police of Jamaica. Frank & Evilon agreed to use the SAL door a few chapters ago. There’s also a MON door, like the traditional Jamaican phrase. Coincidence?
    Kenny asking “Is everything all right?” in a section titled Everything Will Be Alright is half redundant, and half to show that I know “all right” is technically more grammatically correct. (Though I generally prefer the one word version too…)
  • “I’m leaving tonight.”
  • “Are you sure I didn’t let you down? Drop the ball? Give me one more shot…” references “Drop the Ball” by the band Alternative Champs with guest vocals by Benji Hughes.
  • Kenny’s death by scooter accident was based on the actual accident that took the life of a friend of a friend I knew from Luxembourg. I tried a few variants of how the story got presented, eventually landing on the long paragraph interspersing Dr. No related plot points with the police play by play in an attempt to convey Jessica’s shock/confusion/shutdown.
  • “L held her pinkie finger out towards the sky and squinted at it, making a crooked K from the busted cross.”
    “A trip with a friend to see the Fleming Lib…” is a deliciously terrible play on “I Went With Some Friends to See the Flaming Lips.” The idea filled me with that giddy author feeling of finding a term you find awesome but know deep down you can’t actually use with a straight face—but I having Songstress scream at that exact moment felt fitting enough to let it stay.
  • Back when this section was the last half of Old Lovers, the full chapter included “The flames went higher. A piece of ash…” paragraph three times total. (C told me that.)
  • The unicorn coin is the twelfth trick-or-treating item to come in handy.
  • If you were a rocket ship, where do you think you’d fly? If you were a chocolate chip, is there anyplace you could hide?
  • “None of them had a trailer, but one grew up slopping pigs in a trailer park.”
  • Sometimes, I just want a cupcake.

Check out L Extreme

Since this was essentially a double a-side single, here are both:

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