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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Suzanne Vega - Tom's Dinner (Bingo Players Bootleg Mix)

"Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation in Greenwich Village clubs.  Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, she has given sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls. In performances devoid of outward drama that nevertheless convey deep emotion, Vega sings in a distinctive, clear vibrato-less voice that has been described as “a cool, dry sandpaper- brushed near-whisper” and as “plaintive but disarmingly powerful.”
Bearing the stamp of a masterful storyteller who “observed the world with a clinically poetic eye,” Suzanne’s songs have always tended to focus on city life, ordinary people and real world subjects. Notably succinct and understated, often cerebral but also streetwise, her lyrics invite multiple interpretations.  In short, Suzanne Vega’s work is immediately recognizable, as utterly distinct and thoughtful, and as creative and musical now, as it was when her voice was first heard on the radio over 20 years ago.
Suzanne was born in Santa Monica, CA, but grew up in Spanish Harlem and the Upper West Side of New York City.  She was influenced by her mother, a computer systems analyst and her stepfather, the Puerto Rican writer Egardo Vega Yunque. There was a heady mix of multicultural music playing at home: Motown, bossa nova, jazz and folk. At age 11 she picked up a guitar and as a teenager she started to write songs.
At first, record companies saw little prospect of commercial success.  Suzanne’s demo tape was rejected by every major record company—and twice by the very label that eventually signed her: A&M Records. Her self-titled debut album was finally released in 1985, co-produced by Steve Addabbo and Lenny Kaye, the former guitarist for Patti Smith.  The skeptical executives at A & M were expecting to sell 30,000 LP’s.  1,000,000 records later, it was clear that Suzanne’s voice was resonating around the world.  Marlene on the Wall was a surprise hit in the U.K and Rolling Stone eventually included the record in their “100 Greatest Recordings of the 1980’s.”

1987’s follow up, Solitude Standing, again co-produced by Addabbo and Kaye, elevated her to star status. The album hit #2 in the UK and #11 in the States, was nominated for three Grammys including Record of the Year and went platinum. “Luka” is a song that has entered the cultural vernacular; certainly the only hit song ever written from the perspective of an abused boy.
The opening song on Solitude Standing was a strange little a cappella piece, “Tom’s Diner” about a non-descript restaurant near Columbia University uptown. Without Suzanne’s permission, it was remixed by U.K. electronic dance duo “DNA” and bootlegged as “Oh Susanne.” Suddenly her voice on this obscure tune was showing up in the most unlikely setting of all: the club. Suzanne permitted an official release of the remix of “Tom’s Diner” under its original title which reached #5 on the Billboard pop chart and went gold. In 1991 a compilation, Tom’s Album, brought together the remix and other unsolicited versions of the song. Meanwhile, Karlheinz Brandenburg, the German computer programmer was busy developing the technology that would come to be known as the MP3. He found that Vega’s voice was the perfect template with which to test the purity of the audio compression that he was aiming to perfect. Thus Suzanne earned the nickname “The Mother of the MP3.”
Suzanne Vega is an artist that continues to surprise.  In 2006, she became the first major recording artist to perform live in avatar form within the virtual world Second Life.  She has dedicated much of her time and energy to charitable causes, notably Amnesty International, Casa Alianza, and the Save Darfur Coalition.  Suzanne has a daughter, Ruby, by first husband Mitchell Froom.  Ruby, like Suzanne before her, attends the High School for the Performing Arts.  Suzanne is married to lawyer/poet Paul Mills who proposed to her originally in 1983.  Suzanne accepted his proposal on Christmas Day 2005, twenty two years later.  As fascinating as the New Yorkers she has been inspired by, Suzanne Vega herself is full of stories and surprises: the everyday revelations, the grabbed-on-the-run wisdom, the strange, random, miraculous stuff that make up a singular career – or maybe just another life in the big city.
In 2009 Suzanne was invited by Vaclav Havel to perform in Prague to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.  Joining her on stage were Renee Flemming, Lou Reed and Joan Baez.  In early 2010 she embarked on a 38 city tour of North America in support of her new record, Suzanne Vega, Close Up, Vol 1, Love Songs, released on her own label, Amenuensis Productions.  This is the first of four CD’s that looks back through her extraordinary songbook and re-imagines the work in an intimate, striped down production, grouped as “Love Songs,” People, Places and Things,” “States of Being,” and “Songs of Family.” The tour was highlighted by a performance at Lincoln Center’s Allen Room as part of their American Songbook Series.  Suzanne also conducted a series of residencies and workshops at Universities and Music Schools on this tour, including stops at Harvard, University of California Santa Barbara and Banff in Canada."

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