Way back in chapter 5, “Waiting For An Invitation” starts with the lyric “Ladies roll by…” I’ve always considered the ladies rolling by as a precursor/sister song to this parade (“there is a theme there”), so I knew we’d be headed back to the cemetery. But how would we get there?
Taking the baton from the previous chapter, I kept the action in déjà vu land with a callback to the awakenings that opened both Tight Tee Shirt & Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way? This time the twist is it’s L waking up instead of Benji.
Like Coyotes, the L-centricity took a few drafts to land on. It was easier to justify the small apartment dwellers joining the ladies on parade when one of them was in fact a lady herself, replaying events like she’s the star of some movie. Flipping from fake Halloween to fake Xmas was also a lot of fun, with the ladies dancing / ladies parading parallel writing itself.
Ultimately this chapter follows a reboot of I Am You…, includes a condensed retelling of Tight Tee Shirt, Neighbor Down The Hall, Waiting For An Invitation, Why Do These Parties…? and So Well, all while gearing up for L’s version of You Stood Me Up mixed with Where Do Old Lovers Go? Quite a bit of ground to cover in just one song…
Originally side D was titled “Everything Will Be Alright” after an instrumental piano song, but it never felt quite right. When the X&O records were re-released/retitled in 2020 I immediately knew Another Extreme was perfect here.
It wasn’t a conscious decision, but in revisiting the book for these commentary posts I’m realizing the four “sides” are structured a bit like seasons of a TV show. The finale of season 3 sets up this wild season premiere that (finally) puts L front and center in a whole new (L as in) light. Seasons change, people change.
- “Frank’s fingers cast a dark shadow on the gray walls, but that didn’t matter.” Gray matter = brain = Songstress = L
- C’s transformation into Mark started as a dumb way to reference the “I talk to Mark and he can’t remember anything at all” lyric from Flaming Lips, but it worked so well I ran with it. “The dream where your mouth is on fire” is a nod to that origin.
- The River Phoenix poster comes from the song “Wind Up Doll” by Muscadine.
- Benji Hughes allegedly endeared himself to producer Bill Bottrell with “a long dissection of the musical South Pacific.”
- “Some enchanted evening you may see a stranger…and somehow you know” mirrors Lovers & Other Strangers from chapter 2 while also describing the L & Frank situation here.
- C’s first dream about a girl in a tight tee shirt comes back later, but his North Pole dream doesn’t. I kinda wish it had.
- Various versions of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” have 8, 9, 11, or 12 ladies dancing—so both Mark & L are correct. No Mandela Effect needed even though this chapter flirts with being set in a parallel universe…or does it?
- Realizing “leaping” was part of the song had me giddy with connective tissue. (A deleted scene had Mark acknowledge the Evil Leapers were ladies.)
- One girl might be wearing a rabbit fur coat.
- I originally priced the paperback at $12.24 as a reference to Xmas Eve and because LX are the 12th & 24th letters of the alphabet, but printing cost increases due to supply chain problems made me increase it to $13.12 (13 & 12 songs on each LP of the vinyl A Love Extreme) to not be underwater.
- Mark feels like a muppet since C is for Count and Count was a Muppet.
- Benji Hughes provides guest vocals on the Aqualads cover of “Last Christmas” featuring the chorus to “Missing You” tacked on at the end, inspiring the two song mash-up here.
- Wham! originally performed “Last Christmas” while the band Mud originated “Lonely This Christmas.” So when Benji runs into L, “Wham! She gets knocked into the mud…”
- “The heart of a maiden has never been won by true tenderness anyway.“
- Each of the parading choir girls has collaborated with Benji Hughes at some point The way they introduce themselves hints at the real life association.
“Each of the choir ladies greeted Benji in their own special way. Mary threw him a frisbee. Barbara rang a bell. Nancy showed him a painting. Morgan whispered her intro. Kesha jumped in a pool. Meshell blamed the weather. Jade asked if he knew her husband. Hope fetched him a sugar bone from a clothing boutique. Jenny thought she recognized him from New Year’s Eve, which actually occurred before Christmas in our timeline of fake holidays since the future is behind us. Eleni would agree.”
(The ladies on parade are: Mary Wood, Barbara Gruska, Nancy Hollinghurst, Morgan Nagler, Kesha, Meshell Ndegeocello, Jade Vincent, Hope Nicholls, Jenny Lewis, and Eleni Mandell)
- Originally just a list of names, the referential paragraph was the very last part of the book I wrote in a fit of inspiration while waiting for Benji to submit his afterword on the April 17th release day. (I only had 10 slots + the DJ based on the 12 Days blueprint, so apologies to anyone omitted—for example the shark attack girls Kim Talon & Hilary Lefebbre!!!!!!!!!!)
- Realizing the back of a hammer looks like a V was another giddy moment where pieces fell into place.
- We didn’t quite make it to the graveyard as promised, but the ending line segue was too good to pass up. “Something else that shouldn’t be here…”
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