Friday, July 11, 2008

Tom's Diner, back to the original - in cyberspace

Probably the most famous remixed song ever is Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." I'm sure there are many, many people who only know her through that song or possibly because of "Luka." For me, she's a memory of the 80's, someone who I listened to many years ago. I bought her greatest hits album a few months ago. I've only put it on a couple of times, but it's like comfort music - it's just nice to know that it's there.

Every now and then I have wondered what happened to her. She didn't quite fall into the "where are they now" category, because she wasn't a superstar who burned out - she was just more famous at certain times than at other times.

But now she's popped up in a couple of intriguing places. She wrote about the process of writing and recording "Luka" for the New York Times. She has no problem with being a "two-hit wonder," because, after all,
I think it’s better than being a one-hit wonder, thank you very much.
And those two hit songs?
They are like the cherries on top of the sundae.
This is a woman with her priorities straight, an artist with her feet on the ground. Not a crazed, dysfunctional genius with a maddening need to be understood, but a creative professional who is apparently fairly normal. Very refreshing.

But what's even more intriguing than this piece in the NY Times is another appearance she made, this time in Second Life. She performed Tom's Diner on - how can I describe this? - a radio show hosted by John Hockenberry. Except that the radio show was broadcast in Second Life, the virtual reality game/world/playspace. Hockenberry is a great radio host, and prods her to tell an interesting story about Tom's Diner. The guy who invented the MP3 used it to refine the technology, so she is sort of the mother of the MP3.

The audio portion of the performance is solid - this is one of the only hit songs, after all, that became famous because of an acapella version, so we're used to hearing it sung without accompaniment.

What's intriguing, of course, is watching it in Second Life. I've never been in Second Life, I have enough going on in my own life. So I have no idea how normal this is.

Apart from the novelty, it's actually quite boring. There's really very little going on, because, of course, the song goes faster than the avatars can move. But it's also one of the first times something like this has been done.

Great to still have you around, Ms. Vega. Very much looking forward to seeing what you're up to next.

Update: Well, that didn't take long. This is a second performance from the same show, but this time she plays guitar. Slightly more visually interesting, even if her left hand seems to be wandering away from the guitar.

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