Suzanne on the title
of the song:
"This song is called "Marlene on the Wall" and it was written for
a poster of Marlene Dietrich that was on my wall at one time"
In concert: WDR2 Radio Session, Koln, Germany,
February 28, 2002
"The idea of using a poster as a reference point is a very
pop idea. It's a song about Marlene Dietrich. You kind of get
that from it, or it's a song about a relationship. As opposed
to "Today I am a small blue thing" in which some people
think I'm speaking in code, or it's a riddle they have to break.
It's more like "Let's pretend," like a kid's game.
If you were a small blue thing, what would you be? Well, you'd
be like a marble or an eye. It's pretty straight-forward."
Interview with Paul Zollo in Song Talk, Vol. 2, #16, Winter 1991, also published in "Language", 5:1 August 1992, (http://www.vega.net/songtal1.htm) trancription by Steve Zwanger
Suzanne explaing the
motivation to write the song:
"It was written for the actress Marlene Dietrich. That's
the Marlene that I am talking about in this song. And the very
first time that I ever saw Marlene Dietrich was one night when
I was watching television, I was in my apartment sitting in the
East Village in New York City which is where I'm from. So there
I was and I turned on the TV set. It was one of those old sets
that take a while to warm up. So I turned on the knob and you
get the little tiny dot in the middle of the screen. And I hear
this man's voice saying, "You have lead many men to death
with your body." I was like "Alright!". because
I didn't see anything, you know, I didn't know who the guy was,
who he was talking to. And for a split second I had this fantasy,
what if someone came to my door and said that to me? What would
I say? And I thought that I would probably apologize. I would
probably be like "Oh, I'm terribly sorry, are you sure it
was me? It might have been so-and-so down the hall." So,
I was curious to know what who ever he was talking to would say.
Of course right then the picture came on and there's Marlene Dietrich's
beautiful face in close-up. And her answer, of course, which is
the only proper and logical one "Give me a kiss". So
right from that moment I was just hooked. I watched the rest of
the movie. I became a huge Marlene Dietrich fan. The photograph
on the wall I'm singing about in the song, is one that someone
had given me, back in the days when I was hanging out at Folk
City. They gave it to me because they knew that I was a fan of
her's. I had it framed and had it on my wall. The song is written
from the point of view of the photograph of Marlene Dietrich looking
down into my bedroom at that point when I was in my early twenties."
In concert: El Rey Theater, Los Angeles,
CA, USA, November 20, 1996 (http://www.vega.net/elreytr96.htm)
transcription by William C. Andrews
Suzanne on the character
of Marlene Dietrich:
"I loved Marlene Dietrich for her image. Just her image.
And that cruel streak which I find attractive. Then I read biographies
and feel sad. Along with her cruel streak there's all this other
stuff that I wish I didn't know."
.kindness to me is only powerful if it has the cruel streak
behind it. If someone is kind all the time under all circumstances,
they're just simple-minded. Kindness is only worth something if
you have the cruel streak to back it up."
Salon.com interview, by David Nowman, February
Suzanne on the song:
"Well, it's accessible and people do like it, but for me, personally,
inside myself, I feel I had something in mind, and I kind of did it, it
was stylish, it was interesting, but I didn't feel it was quite the bulls-eye
that some of the others were. The idea of using a poster as a reference point
is a very pop idea. It's a song about Marlene Dietrich. You kind of get that
from it, or it's a song about a relationship. "
Interview with Paul Zollo in Song Talk, Vol. 2, #17, Spring 1992, also published in "Language", 5:1 August 1992, (http://www.vega.net/songtal2.htm) trancription by Steve Zwanger