Little 15

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4. Sacred
5. Little 15
List of Music for the Masses songs
6. Behind The Wheel
Little 15
Song Little 15
By Depeche Mode
Songwriter Martin L. Gore
Produced by Depeche Mode
Dave Bascombe
Daniel Miller
Recorded at Guillaume Tell (Paris)
Konk (London)
Puk Studios, Denmark
Length (mm:ss) 4:15
Tempo 108 BPM
Time signature 4
Key D♭ Minor
Recorded February - July, 1987
Originally released May 16, 1988
Live performances as Depeche Mode 3 times *
Total live performances 3 times *

"Little 15" is a song from the 1987 album Music For The Masses by Depeche Mode. It was released as a single on 16 May 1988.


Dave Gahan told KROQ radio in 1987:

'Little 15' is actually about a guy. It's about a boy. See, a lot of people have taken that song already in the wrong way, they think it's about a small girl, but it's not. It's actually about a boy, and his mother is talking to him. She's saying, "Look, you're gonna grow up and everything, and this is what it's gonna be like. It's not a bed of roses, and you're gonna be going out into the big, bad world soon." It's about a boy and his mother, his older mother. To be honest, when Martin wrote the song and he brought it to us and I read the lyrics and stuff - it's actually one of my favourite songs on the album - but when he brought it to me I thought immediately it was about a little girl, one of his, you know, "things"... But we won't talk about those!

Q & A from Alan Wilder's Shunt archive:

Steph: You're smart to expose Paris [Wilder's daughter] to Nyman - what is your favourite of his work? I am partial to The Piano soundtrack. I can't listen to him without being transported somewhere else in the universe. Has he influenced you in any way? Do you see any similarities in your respective styles?

Alan Wilder: I didn't think 'The Piano' was very good. I hated the film too. I prefer A Zed And Two Noughts. I suppose there is some influence - listen to 'Little 15'.

Wilder and Gahan elaborate on this influence in the 2006 Music For The Masses remaster DVD documentary:

Alan Wilder: I remember [that] 'Little 15' was being quite a difficult track. We had left it to the last [day] because we really didn't know how to go about it. We had this song, it seemed... it was just difficult to know what to do with it. And I can remember I had just been to see A Zed & Two Noughts by Peter Greenway, and all his music, that is [from] Michael Nyman. And so, somewhere amongst our discussions, we said: "Why don't we try and do it in this sort of Nyman and A Zed & Two Noughts kind of way?". But from there, it was just easy, it just flowed. It all started with this funny, little, hypnotic cycle sequence, and then - bang, bang, bang - all the parts came together.

Dave Gahan: That was Alan's, like, schooling, his musicianship. He's a fantastic piano player. And I don't think we appreciated that at the time.

Album producer Dave Bascombe describes the impact of Wilder's influence on the production of 'Little 15': "... There’s a lot of reverb on that album which is ‘of the time’, but I suppose the cinematic thing was Alan. And the orchestral stuff, like in ‘Little 15’, there’s a lot of orchestral samples in there that we spent ages working on and that was definitely Alan, [he’s] definitely the reason for that."[1]

Wilder writes on the official Recoil website in 1998:

'Little 15' was never intended as a single - in fact from the outset, it was touch and go as to whether the track would even be recorded at all. However, encouraged by Dan Miller, an experimental approach in the studio gave rise to a simple ballad based around a Nymanesque opening string arrangement. It was the French record company who later insisted the song was perfect for their market resulting in a release geared towards this territory only. There is some confusion over which other European countries eventually released the single. Certainly, it was never officially released in England and yet, remarkably still managed to chart on Import only - a perfect demonstration of the die hard following that DM now enjoyed.[2]

Martin Gore in Bong issue no. 37, 1998:

This was the only ever single in France. We were convinced by our French record company that it was a great single for France and that it had all the right ingredients to be a massive hit in France. We just looked at them and said "You're mad, Little 15 is not a single", but as it was Mute France at that time and we knew the people very well, we basically gave in to them and let them have their way. And was it a massive hit? No! Was it a hit? No!

Martin Gore told Swedish magazine "Slitz" in 1987 (translated from Swedish):

"To me, it’s about a bored, middle-aged house wife trying to find a new lease on life through a young boy. It doesn’t have to be sexual. Although this particular song is about one of our classmates who DID have an affair with a middle-aged woman when he was 15."


Little 15

Little 15

You help her forget

The world outside

You're not part of it yet

And if you could drive

You could drive her away

To a happier place

To a happier day

That exists in your mind

And in your smile

She could escape there

Just for a while

Little 15

Little 15

Why take the smooth with the rough

When things run smooth

It's already more than enough

She knows your mind

Is not yet in league

With the rest of the world

And its little intrigues

Do you understand

Do you know what she means

As time goes by

And when you've seen what she's seen

You will

Little 15

Little 15

Why does she have to defend

Her feelings inside

Why pretend

She's not had a life

A life of near misses

Now all that she wants

Is 3 little wishes

She wants to see with your eyes

She wants to smile with your smile

She wants a nice surprise

Every once in a while

Little 15

Songwriter: Martin L. Gore
Publishing Information: ©1987 Grabbing Hands Music Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved.

Music video

Live performances

Main article: Available recordings of "Little 15"
Main article: List of dates where "Little 15" was played

1981-1985: Dreaming of MeNew LifeJust Can't Get EnoughSee YouThe Meaning Of LoveLeave in SilenceGet The Balance Right!Everything CountsLove In ItselfPeople Are PeopleMaster And ServantBlasphemous RumoursSomebodyShake The DiseaseIt's Called A Heart
1986-1989: StrippedBut Not TonightA Question Of LustA Question Of TimeStrangeloveNever Let Me Down AgainBehind The WheelLittle 15Route 66Personal Jesus
1990-1999: Enjoy The SilencePolicy of TruthWorld In My EyesI Feel YouWalking In My ShoesCondemnationIn Your RoomBarrel Of A GunIt's No GoodHomeUselessOnly When I Lose Myself
2000-2009: Dream OnI Feel LovedFreeloveGoodnight LoversPreciousA Pain That I'm Used ToSuffer WellJohn the RevelatorLilianMartyrWrongPeaceFragile TensionHole To Feed
2010-2017: HeavenSoothe My SoulShould Be HigherWhere's The RevolutionGoing BackwardsCover Me
1992-1998: Faith HealerDriftingStalkerMissing Piece
2000-2008: Strange HoursJezebelPreyAllelujah
2003-2008: Dirty Sticky FloorsI Need YouBottle LivingHold OnA Little PieceKingdomSaw SomethingDeeper And Deeper
2012-2015: Longest DayTake Me Back HomeAll Of This And NothingShine
1989-2003: CompulsionStardustLoverman
2012: SpockSingle BlipAftermaths