It´s 1980, more or less. It´s raining as hell and my friend Tom drags me all the way through town to visit one of his weird friends. He has a lot of those. Floating fairy boys who are high on acetone, teen prostitutes who’ll never reach twenty-five, would-be gangsters and dangerous drug dealers, thieves, pickpockets and Bennie.
Bennie, Tom tells me, is weird but in a different way. He has a relatively normal job in the music business and he just got back in town, so we have to visit him. He may be gone again tomorrow.
Just a few minutes after entering Bennie’s apartment, we are sitting comfortably on his big leather sofa. Sipping hot coffee from bright red mugs – Bennie always has coffee, it’s as if he knows you’re coming – while he runs back and forth between the kitchen, the living room and the toilet. He just got out of bed, he tells us, sorry for the mess, but two weeks on the road with a band has that result. One moment he is standing right in front of us, talking about Berlin and the next his voice comes from the bathroom and Iron Maiden is the subject.
Finally Bennie sits down. “Boys,” he says while pointing his fat finger at us, “boys, you are going to love this shit.” He points at the small, but potent, speakers on the other side of the room. From the table he grabs a pile of LP’s and goes through them like they’re a deck of cards. Holding one red cover in his lap, he places the pile against the side of a chair – can not do that with your shitty mp3, can you? – and tells us about the people on this album.
Our faces tell him everything; Herman Brood, Nina Hagen, Lene Lovich, Ferdi Karnmelk, Hans Dulfer, we know some of the names and a few songs they have playing on the radio, but that is about it. Bennie laughs and talks about the album Cha-Cha and that it is actually a movie. A movie with the stars as actors, without really acting – in fact, most of the acting is simply horrific –, it´s about the music, days in the life of a wandering rock star junkie as a leitmotif if you will. He orders me to make myself useful with the water-pipe and a piece of dark afghan while he puts the LP on the turntable.
Shortly after that, things get a bit hazy: we listen to music, Bennie’s talking about what it’s like trying to lure a musician on to the stage. When nerves are wreaking havoc with and thanks to the various kinds of dope – to help him reach the point where the man stops to exist and the Rock and Roll Junkie takes control. About the wonderful strangeness of Nina and Lene and how well their voices go together. There was more Afghan and later we played some pinball, but I can neither remember where, nor I can be sure that it wasn’t actually darts.
One thing was certain though, the album had struck a nerve with me. All the way home I could hear `Home´ pounding in my head. About it being hard to swallow, just emotions sticking in my throat and mind your business, thank you very much.
Not long after that I became the proud owner of Cha-Cha, the soundtrack. On LP, because that was how music came to us back then. In beautiful covers and thin paper sleeves. Often with liner notes that you could actually read. `Home´ got always played loud.
2017, a cold and rainy evening in February. When Lene Lovich finishes the concert playing `Home´ my time machine makes full circle.