Saturday, February 29, 2020

Quote of the Day (Suzanne Vega, on the Creation of ‘Tom’s Diner’)

“I had just been in Tom's, and I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a song called 'Tom's Diner' about alienation, where you're not connected to anything you see. Lately on the Internet I've been reading people saying this song is really random and it's about nothing. It’s not about nothing! It’s about something! Every single scene has been set up to show that this person is alienated from life in general.”—Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega quoted in David Honigman, “The Life of a Song: ‘Tom’s Diner,’” The Financial Times, Feb. 1-2, 2020

Vega and I were on Morningside Heights—she at Barnard, me across Broadway at Columbia—in the late Seventies and early Eighties, and were both even English majors (or to be exact, in my case, English-History double-major). 

But we never bumped into each other, in no small part because I was a commuter. Only seldom did I venture down to the corner of 112th Street and Broadway where Tom’s was located.

Since then, of course, this eatery has become a worldwide landmark, in no small part due to its exterior being featured in numerous episodes of Seinfeld. Maybe for that reason, it occurs to me, some listeners might feel that, as the sitcom is “a show about nothing,” everything associated with its locales might be, too. 

I’m glad to see that Vega is trying to put that notion to rest.

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