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Suzanne Vega is a woman with a heavenly voice, and equally divine music to cushion it. She's known chiefly by the mainstream for “Luka” & “Tom’s Diner”, but her entire career is something to appreciate.
"Tom's Diner" was used as the reference track in an early trial of the MP 3 compression system, earning her the distinction of being the Mother of the MP 3. It was chosen because her a capella vocal with relatively little reverberation was used as the model for Karlheinz Brandenburg's compression algorithm. Brandenburg heard "Tom's Diner" on a radio playing the song. He was excited and at first convinced it would be “nearly impossible to compress this warm a capella voice.”
Another notable song is "The Queen And The Soldier" (1985), the characters of which have an active fandom to this day.
She has released the following albums:
- Suzanne Vega (1985)
- Solitude Standing (1987), The One With... the aformentioned "Tom's Diner" and "Luka".
- Days of Open Hand (1990)
- 99.9F° (1992)
- Nine Objects of Desire (1996)
- Songs in Red and Gray (2001)
- Beauty and Crime (2007)
Tropes Suzanne Vega provides:
- Answer Song: "(I'll Never Be) Your Maggie May", in answer to Rod Stewart's "Maggie May".
- Anvils That Needed to Be Dropped - "Luka" - Child abuse and how no one should ignore the plight of the children enduring it.
- The Lyrical Dissonance makes the song even more anvilicious when people pay attention to the lyrics, and so they should.
- Cut Himself Shaving - "Luka," a song very obviously about child abuse, runs with the "walked into the door again" approach in amidst claims of being clumsy and recommendations not to ask.
- Did Not Do the Research: The lyrics to "World Before Columbus" is based on the myth that Columbus made his journey to prove that the world is round. Granted, it's only used as a metaphor.
- Driven to Suicide: "Straight Lines" could very well be about this, while "In Liverpool" is pretty unambiguously about this.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Vega says "The Queen and the Soldier" is about power, but it can and has been interpreted as just about any subject where someone supresses their wants for the good of others.
- Hurricane of Puns: "No Cheap Thrill". A hurricane of poker puns, most of which also serve as Double Entendres, to be precise.
- Important Haircut: "Straight Lines" is about this. Unless it isn't.
- Lyrical Dissonance - "Luka" is a peppy little song... about an abused little boy.
- There's also "Tombstone", an upbeat song about death.
- Non-Appearing Title - "Tom's Diner". The name of the diner the singer is in is never mentioned in the lyrics.
- Also "Penitent", "Woman on the Tier" (though the subtitle, "I'll See You Through", does appear) and "Gypsy".
- Rape as Drama: "Bad Wisdom" seems from the lyrics to be about a child who's been sexually abused.
- Refrain From Assuming – Her most famous song is not "My Name Is Luka", it's just "Luka".
- Shout-Out: Many of her songs are based on real events, people, or stories:
- "Calypso" is about the Greek goddess Calypso, as seen in the Odyssey.
- "Frank and Ava" describes the relationship between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
- "Rock in My Pocket" is about David and Goliath.
- "Marlene on the Wall" references a poster of real life actress Marlene Dietrich that was on Vega's wall in her room.
- Tear Jerker - "The Queen And The Soldier”. Not-conventionally-saccharine female vocals, well-meaning protagonist desperately trying to end a senseless waste of life, the feeling that just once they'll listen to reason and everything'll be okay, but no.
- "Luka" could also fit into this category.
- As could "In Liverpool", with the lines "The boy in the belfry he's crazy/He's throwing himself down from the top of the tower...maybe he's missing something or someone he knows he can't ever have/And if he isn't, I certainly am". Could easily be interpreted that the boy throwing himself off the tower to his death is someone that the narrator knows well.
- The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask - "The Queen and the Soldier" is about this trope. Unless it isn't.