It was the mid eighties when I fell in love. I was, sitting in my rocking chair, writing a short story, when I heard a song on the radio. To this day I still do not know why, but the song caught my attention. In a fleeting moment my mind moved from the story to this girl, sitting on the wall. The song ‘Marlene on the Wall’, the artist Suzanne Vega. It started a love affair that lasts a full thirty-two years now.
It wasn’t that I fell in love with Suzanne, other authors have done that and expressed that love way better than me, I fell in love with the song. The tune was not particularly catchy, the lyrics weren’t straightforward, but the composition was complete and whole. A note about the song title and the artist was quickly made. And just as quickly lost.
The very next day you could find me in my favourite record store, explaining to the attendant what and who I was looking for. No, he had never heard of Suzanne Vega, was I sure that is her name, let me look again. Two days later het called, almost in ecstasy, the album was in. No need to hear it before I bought it.
It was more than I could hope for. Here were songs that actually were sung to me. A sort of intimacy, seldom heard in music. A conversation, but only Suzanne Vega was talking. There was no need to reply, everything said made perfect sense. The love extended from the one song, Marlene on the Wall, to all songs.
Of course, these deep feelings made it easy to get disappointed in future. It made the album a hard act to follow. Yet somehow, the second album came through in every respect. It only deepened love and affection. Suzanne was still singing to me, sharing it with whole world, yet singing to me.
As a love affair, it was quite hampered of course. Songs don’t threaten to leave you, don’t point out your flaws, or even react when I cursed them to hell. And there was the inevitability of my tendency to pair songs to events. It all made for a bumpy ride. There were times I played Vega’s songs daily, there were stretches of months, I couldn’t hear any song of Suzanne.
Suzanne’s poems, calling them lyrics would be a grave injustice, are, not surprisingly, beautiful. They cover the whole range of emotions and motives, you can feel them by just listening to them. Full of subtle and not so subtle references And, of course, they were all written for me. Well, to be honest, probably not, never having met Suzanne Vega, nor even send her a tweet, makes this an unlikely scenario.
For some reason, the universe has always stood between a concert of Suzanne Vega and me. The recordings of her live performances I do enjoy, and I will attend one one day. On the other hand, I am not that type of fan that religiously collects everything, that follows with an unstoppable zealousness the subject of my fandom, or usus every opportunity to visit concerts, readings or other public appearances. Somehow in the case of Suzanne Vega, this seems very appropriate; it might break the fragile intimacy I have with her music.
No matter what, I do want to thank Suzanne Vega for her music, I means more to me than she’ll ever know, or I’ll ever can tell.