¡Feliz Cumpleaños, Suzanne Vega!
AKA Suzanne Nadine Vega.
Born July 11, 1959.
She is the daughter of a woman of German-Swedish descent and a man of Scottish-English-Irish heritage. Thanks to a Puerto Rican stepfather, she used to think for the longest time that she was half-Puerto Rican
only to find out later that she was not. She still admits to having strong emotional ties to her stepfather's family
and if nothing else, she certainly has an interesting perspective on ethnic and racial issues.
Of course, when her song "Left of Center" started playing on the radio in 1986, I quickly became a fan of hers even though I had no idea she had such an unconventional background. Then again, my ethnic background would rarely be considered the norm either and anyway, you don't always pick the music that speaks to you.
Needless to say, most of Ms. Vega's songs do not concern ethnic or racial issues. I must admit that I am tempted to interpret "Left of Center" that way sometimes even though the lyrics are more about outsiders in general and not outsiders of a specific ethnic background. However, it is not fair to Ms. Vega to give her songs an interpretation that she never intended and even if it were, I think it unlikely that director John Hughes had such issues in mind when he had her co-write and record that tune for his 1986 movie Pretty in Pink
If I had to pick my favorite Suzanne Vega that was not "Left of Center," it would probably be "Tom's Diner," a tune which was once characterized by one of my late sister's friends as "The Do Do Do Do Song" -- which might be a more accurate description of the tune than its original title. Then again the song is written from the perspective of a male character. Yet Ms. Vega sings it so naturally that I rarely pick up on that aspect whenever I listen to it. I am not sure whether she would consider that a compliment but I would like to think it is, right? Right?
Labels: Cantantes, Cantautoras y Cantautores, Feliz Cumpleaños, Suzanne Vega