April 24, 2003
Viva La Vega
So I zipped downtown Tuesday night for Suzanne Vega's in-store at the Virgin on Union Square. Earlier in the day I picked up my pre-ordered copy of RetroSpective as well as the laminated pass I'd need to get into the performance/signing. On the way in, Mike and I passed a window through which we could see Suzanne being interviewed on camera. We ventured into the cafe area and took a spot by the far wall - all the seats were taken, but we had a nice, unobtrusive spot down front.
Suzanne looked cool - long bangs, wispy, shoulder-length red-brown hair. She wore a long black coat, black pants, and black and white high-tops. A glowing luminous smile as she took to the mike and bowed graciously as we whooped and clapped. She asked us what we wanted to hear, and fielded a request for "Gypsy," a song she wrote when she was seventeen. I was thrilled to hear it - it's one of my favorites. To my surprise, I found myself surreptitiously flicking away some happy tears. Since it was just Suzanne and her acoustic, she didn't really play what she called the "noisy songs." She played other favorites, such as the luscious "Caramel," "In Liverpool," and "Neighborhood Girls." At one point she asked, "You don't really want to hear "Luka" right?" but there seemed to be an inclination for it. She must be so sick of that song - I mean, it was a huge hit for her, and I like it, but even I'm tired of the song about a little boy and the way he's coping with child abuse. But she played it for the crowd nonetheless.
She mentioned how she still lives here and still rides the subway. She said she'll be sitting down and some guy will be standing, leaning over her, pretending to study the map, and suddenly he'll start whistling "Tom's Diner." Which is maybe cute for 10 seconds but because he's not looking at her, not officially acknowledging her, she feels she can't say, "Okay, that's enough now," I guess without bringing more attention to herself. Jeez - how utterly obnoxious. "Tom's Diner" was the finale, for which she set down her guitar and sang a cappella. She teased us for being her quietest New York audience (although there were loud cheers and clapping between songs), as a small contingent did the "do do dos" - I'd rather have heard Suzanne, but I guess it's become a singalong now.
While waiting in line for the signing, we were getting our CDs ready. [Hint, as passed down to me by more experienced autograph hounds: Open the case, pull out the liner notes and slide it back in with the cover facing you as you open up the CD case. That way, the person can just open up the case and sign, instead of having to pull out the notes herself - extra work and aggravation, especially if you're trying to catch her at the stage door or something.] One of the people filming the in-store suddenly shows up and is aiming his camera at Mike's hands as he's getting his CD ready. Ugh. I don't want to end up on camera in any way, looking like a superdork fan. Hopefully that's all the camera guy got - the shot of the CD cover.
So we get to the table, and it's just Suzanne sitting alone at the table. She seemed quiet and contained, a little stiff - maybe she's just sorta shy, I guess. I didn't get all superfan on her, I guess only Neil brings out my jitters. We just asked her to sign our CD covers and our passes, thanked her, and headed out.
Hurrah! I now have tickets to see her at the Bowery Ballroom next month. Fortunately I'll be able to drag Mike with me for company.