the concept behind the song:
"Men in a War" is about missing a piece of yourself,
whether it's a physical piece or a part of your will or spirit.
I put the woman in the song because I wanted to show these two
people in opposite circumstances, both of them feeling incomplete.
The man is feeling something he doesn't have, and the woman
is not feeling something she has."
"The Open Hand Book - Notes on her
New Album", Musician, 1991, also published in Language
and in the Limited Edition of 99.9F° (http://www.vega.net/handbook.htm)
transcribed by Eric Szczerbinski
Suzanne on phantom
"I've always been interested in the idea of phantom limbs
because I've always felt that there was some inner part of me
missing but I didn't quite know how to put my finger on it.
So the phantom limb idea was the most tangible way I could
tackle that in a song."
Interview In the Record Mirror, April 28,
Suzanne on Men in a War
"I was driving somewhere in a car and it appeared almost like a telegram in my mind. Men in a war. And that's basically a medical fact. I thought, "I'd better write this down, because it's such a strange idea." And I thought, "Well, what are you after? What are you trying to say?" I wanted to bring the comparison of violence to your body. Whether it happens through a war, or whether it happens through sexual violence. The woman in the song is experiencing sexual violence. Some people don't get that, and they think she's getting an abortion. To me, there's a parallel between the two experiences. To me, that was valid enough reason to write the song. But it was very hard. People listen to it, and it's not a clear anti-war song. It's not "We must end the war." Some people listen to it and they don't know how to feel. Except that when you sing it live, it really has a strong impact. And everybody just seems to start getting up and jumping around. Not dancing with joy, but just moving. The rhythm of it and the intensity of it just seems to hit.
When you receive a bulletin like that: "Men in a war who have lost a limb...", you start to think, "What am I trying to say and what is the reason for it?" And it's not so important that you state it in a song but that you know what it is. Because that's what forms the secret heart of your song. People, when they listen, want to know what you're singing about. And if you know what it is, they'll know what it is. Not even that you have to say it, but if you know what it is, then they'll know. Because it will be there in the structure. That one I don't know if I pulled off. That one took a long time for all the pieces to fall into place, and I still wasn't sure. I think if it were a perfect song, I probably would have edited out some more and done something else.
"Song Talk Vol 2 #16" interview by Paul Zollo (http://www.vega.net/st1.htm) transcription by Steven Zwanger
Suzanne used "I'm Waiting for My Man," by Lou Reed,
as an inspriration for this song