Santa Monica, California – July 11, 1959
2017 marked the 30th anniversary of Suzanne Vega’s Solitude Standing. The album featured the surprise hit “Luka,” written from the perspective of an abused boy. “Luka” helped earn Vega three Grammy Nominations that year, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The song resonates with so many people, that Suzanne still gets letters today thanking her for writing it. Solitude Standing would go on to chart at #2 in the UK and #11 in the States.
But “Luka” was not the only cultural touchstone to come from that album. The opening song on Solitude Standing was a strange little a cappella piece, “Tom’s Diner” about feeling alienated and set in a non-descript restaurant near Columbia University. 3 years after the release of Solitude Standing, without Suzanne’s permission, “Tom’s Diner” 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.”
2017 also marked the 25th anniversary of Suzanne’s groundbreaking album 99.9F. The album’s sound instigated descriptions such as “industrial folk” and “technofolk.” That sound can be is most obvious in the track “Blood Makes Noise,” which reached #1. Modern Rock charts. 99.9F was a certified gold record and won a New York Music Award as Best Rock Album. The album’s titular sound can be heard
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 Suzanne’s critically acclaimed debut album 32 years ago she has sold over 7 million albums and has been nominated for 7 Grammy awards. She tours constantly and continues to play sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls and arenas.