Singer-songwriter Vega revisits songs, works on musicalWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | email@example.com
Suzanne Vega has a reputation for writing cerebral songs. From subject matter to word selection, her artistic sense is evident.
Consider a new song, “The Man Who Played God,” which she performed at Lilith Fair this summer.
“That is a song that was written by a band called Sparklehorse, mostly a man named Mark Linkous, and it was produced by Danger Mouse and he’s the one who sent me the track. The music had already been composed, so he asked me if I would put a vocal over it,” Vega said. Linkous died March 6.
“I was thinking the music seems very psychedelic and sort of mind-expanding, and I wanted to write something that had that in the theme of the song as well, so I wrote about creativity and imagination. I had been looking at an article about Pablo Picasso in the newspaper, so I sort of put it all together to make that song.”
“The Man Who Played God” and her 1987 breakthrough hit “Luka” are included on “Close-Up Vol. 2, People and Places,” due out Oct. 12. The disc is the second in a four-part series that finds the singer-songwriter rerecording tracks from her catalog. “Close-Up Vol. 1, Love Songs” was released earlier this year.
“I’m constantly performing [songs] live, obviously, whenever I go out and do a tour, which is much of the time,” Vega said during a call from her New York City home. “I look back and think to myself, what are the songs the audience wants to hear, how can I put them together in an interesting way, how can I reinterpret them?”
Vega has stripped down the songs, recording with bassist Mike Visceglia and guitarist Gerry Leonard, who will join her on stage at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, 400 N. Maumee St., Tecumseh, Oct. 7 for a 7:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $28 or $24 for students and seniors.
She is finishing “Close-Up Vol. 3, States of Being” and “Close-Up Vol. 4, Songs of Family” for release next year, and also is working on a musical about Southern writer Carson McCullers.
“It’s about her life and her work. I had taken some of her short stories a long time ago when I was in school and changed them to songs,” said Vega, who will star in the show. “It’s a project that’s already booked for the Rattlestick Theater, it’s off-Broadway, here in New York. We have the opening in April, so I’m trying really hard to finish everything by then.”
She’s collaborating with fellow New Yorker and singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik on the project.
“We’ve done one real song [‘The Instant of the Hour After’] and we’re at work on a bunch of others, so that’s really exciting for me,” Vega said.
Do the two music masterminds ever meet at Tom’s Restaurant? That’s the Big Apple locale made famous by DNA’s 1990 remix of Vega’s classic “Tom’s Diner.”
“I don’t go there unless I’m dragged there by a film crew,” Vega said and laughed. “And when I have gone there, which I have actually in the last year, it’s still the same — I still have to wait for the cup of coffee; they never comp anything.”
The eatery became even more famous when its sign was featured on “Seinfeld” as the foursome’s fabled meeting place.
“One time when I was passing Tom’s diner in a cab, I think I actually saw Jerry Seinfeld standing around in that neighborhood, which was wildly surprising to me,” Vega said.
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