“I ain’t one to pray, but I’m one to sing and play for women and children and moms and dads and brothers and sisters and uncles and aunts”
Benji is the sixth studio album by American indie folk act Sun Kil Moon, released on 11 February 2014 on Caldo Verde Records. Self-produced by primary recording artist Mark Kozelek, the album shares its name with the 1974 film Benji, and was recorded between March and August 2013 at Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco.
Much of the album’s lyrical content focuses upon mortality, with primary recording artist Mark Kozelek noting, “Things get heavier as you get older. At 47, I can’t write from the perspective of a 25-year-old anymore. My life has just changed too much and my environment around me.” The first track written for the album was “Truck Driver”, which Kozelek initially brought to the band Desertshore for possible inclusion on their collaborative studio album, Mark Kozelek & Desertshore (2013).
Benji’s closing track, “Ben’s My Friend”, was the final track to be written for the album and is partly written about Kozelek’s friendship with Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Gibbard. Gibbard previously made a guest vocal appearance on the track “Lost Verses” on Sun Kil Moon’s third studio album, April (2008). Kozelek noted, “I just felt like the album needed another track, so I scribbled down some stuff, vented a little about The Postal Service concert or whatever was on my mind that day.
The album’s title is taken from Joe Camp’s 1974 film of the same name, which Kozelek references in the lyrics to the song “Micheline”. Kozelek stated: “I have this light, nice memory of going to see the movie Benji, at a Los Angeles movie theatre when I was a little kid, visiting my grandparents. This record is filled with so much darkness, I wanted to give it a light title, for contrast. Benji is a great movie, one of my favorites.”