It’s Marlene Dietrich season apparently; we recently had a tribute to her on the recent black midi album, and now fellow London-based innovators Public Service Broadcasting have written a song in her image, with the help of Andreya Casablanca of Berlin band Gurr. PSB’s J. Willgoose, Esq. says she was “a self-made myth to come out of Berlin”.
On the song, he says: “the lyrics highlight her power of self-manipulation, her ambition, her bravery and her lack of compromise on vital matters of character – ‘I am all my own invention / I’m in my blue heaven’ and so on. It’s named after the jazz number “My Blue Heaven” which she sang regularly and which she said first made her dream of America.”
With a straightforward, propulsive pop rock sound, Public Service Broadcasting tear away with zeal and zip like Sonic Youth in their prime. Casablanca’s voice twirls and shimmers above, with as much presence and magnetism as Dietrich herself, as she dreams of seeing ‘Marlene’ up in lights and then lets her mind wander into “my blue heaven”, the guitars caressing with a light buzz as we enter that hallowed realm with her. At the peak of the song, Casablanca delivers an impassioned spoken word diatribe in German, and we get an even clearer image of the late great actress and her proto-punk attitude to her haters. It’s a simple concoction but a roaring success.
The excellent video for “Blue Heaven” stars German dancer Celine Fortenbacher and was directed by Alex Southam. Watch it below or listen to the song on streaming platforms.