TVD Radar: The Podcast with Evan Toth, Episode 45: Suzanne Vega

For some folks, New York City is a place they’ve only seen in movies or read about in books; a mysterious, mystical place full of danger and excitement where fame or fortune—or failure—might be lurking around any corner. For those of us familiar with the Big Apple, we know that description is mostly true. No one, however, has characterized New York City in a song quite like Suzanne Vega. Vega began her career as part of the neo-folk scene that was taking hold in Manhattan in the early 1980s, but she broke through to the big time with her songs “Luka” and “Tom’s Diner,” the latter of which was famously remixed to become a global phenomenon.

Vega has, of course, continued writing and performing; crafting a catalog of music that is poetic, clever and adventurous. Location is of paramount importance to Vega and the thread of her body of work always ends up somewhere in New York City. This leads us to Suzanne’s latest project and release, An Evening of New York Songs and Stories which was the encapsulation of a run of shows Suzanne performed at New York City’s famed Cafe Carlyle. Like many projects in the last year or two, the release and tour to support it was hampered by the pandemic, but Vega is ready to get back out on the road to share this song-cycle focused on New York, New York.

Suzanne was kind enough to sit down with me and discuss not only her latest record, but also her career from its humble folk beginnings to finding herself on the international top singles charts. Certainly, we discuss New York City and how events like 9/11 and the recent pandemic have shaped her both personally and as an artist.

Suzanne has a string of shows approaching as well. Our New Jersey listeners can see her at the South Orange Performing Arts Center on September 11th. Our Long Island listeners can see Suzanne at the Sufffolk Theatre in Riverhead, NY on September 12th. Before embarking on a European tour, Suzanne will also return to New Jersey to perform at the The Vogel in Red Bank on October 14th and at the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood, NJ on October 16th before performing in New York City’s City Winery on November 26th and 27th.

Prepare to be allowed to peek inside the mind of a very special songwriter, to get a glimpse of what makes her tick, and how she’s able to process the mystery and madness of New York City; its people, its trials, and its tribulations. You don’t have to have ever set foot in New York City to appreciate the music of Suzanne Vega, but if you ever come to visit, it wouldn’t hurt to have “Tom’s Diner” playing in your headphones as you step out of the airport to hail a taxi cab.

Evan Toth is a songwriter, professional musician, educator, radio host, avid record collector, and hi-fi aficionado. Toth hosts and produces The Evan Toth Show and TVD Radar on WFDU, 89.1 FM. Follow him at the usual social media places and visit his website.

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