New York/Tom’s Diner

Suzanne Vega, 1980 — © Brian Rose

Tom’s Diner again…and again…and again. Suzanne Vega’s a capella song poem set in an Upper West Side diner is back on the charts. Brittany Spears, if you can believe it, is the latest pop star to cover it — or smother it — whatever.

Here’s the song (you’ve been warned):

And believe it or not — yours truly — is forever connected to this song.

Suzanne: I have a photographer friend, Brian Rose, who has taken pictures of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and the Berlin Wall. He told me once long ago that he felt as though he saw the world through a pane of glass. This struck me as romantic and alienated, and I wanted to write a song from this viewpoint.

I still see the world through a pane of glass, though I’m not sure how alienated I feel these days. But I remain committed to observation, the fleeting moment, reflections, glances exchanged, the meaning derived from things, places, people passing by, the “art of facts,” if you will. Just like Suzanne’s wonderful little song.

Here’s the way is was done originally:

Here’s some recent media about the history of Tom’s Diner:
Mental Floss
Stereo Gum