Today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Suzanne Vega’s album “solitude standing” which had the single Luka. I have always thought she writes beautiful songs, with really thoughtful beautiful lyrics and … well … sings them with a beautiful simplicity and plays them with a nice clean simple guitar style. As a folk singer songwriter she really is quite musician. Suzanne Vega seems timeless in that her music peeks through the contemporary popular time and again just to remind you that graceful, thoughtful, sensitive glimpses of life through storytelling songwriting will always be relevant.
I liked Solitude Standing as a complete album although Suzanne’s self titled album, the release prior to Solitude, was awesome (and remains my favorite). It had the infamous Marlene on the Wall. And even though this post is about Luka I had to include the song. A live version <because the 80’s video is horrible>.
Marlene on the Wall (live): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOwLIbPGEKs&feature=related
“I think some people were disturbed because they felt it was so sad. That’s partly why I was so surprised by the success of it. But I’m very moved by how people have been touched by it. I mean, I always know if there’s a woman who looks at me after the show and says, ‘I drove four hours to hear you sing that.’ She doesn’t even have to say any more. I know her story. And that’s why I sing it at every show and I’m happy to do it.” – Suzanne Vega
Luka was about child abuse and who would have thought it would make its way to a top ten song.
To me? It is just another example of the power of music.
It made people listen (because it is a really nice song) and it made people talk (about child abuse).
I was going to write some thoughtful about Luka but I found a great interview Suzanne did in 2011 that says it best:
I heard it on radio, it just kind of jumped out at you,” Vega says is a telephone interview from the airport in Chicago..
“And the melody line, and I have to say the synthesizer line, the way it begins, that little hook. So it sounded right, it sounded right for its time on the radio. It sounded good coming out of U2 or whatever else was on the radio at that time.”
But Vega also says it was the right time for the song’s lyrics.
The song tells the story from the point of view of a child who is a victim of abuse. Vega says the song’s 1987 release came at “a moment in time where the idea that child abuse was a social issue and not just a private one was really starting to come out more.
“Now we see a lot of cases of child abuse all the time in the papers. Back then, it was still something not really talked about, and considered more private. So it was crafted for [the music], and then also it was also the simplicity of the lyric and the actual message.”
Luka (live from same show as Marlene on the Wall): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OC_cHAtEam8&feature=fvwrel
As a folk singer I believe her career is defined by two things … her highly thoughtful literate lyrics and her live performances.
If, in the end, she is only defined by Luka and its message … that would be a pretty nice definition.
Happy birthday Luka.
We cannot think about the issue of child abuse enough. Because even one incident is too often.