Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cool hot

In 1992 Suzanne Vega made a daring venture into techno-folk with her album 99.9F of which this is the title song. But even when singing songs to an industrial backing track, Suzanne Vega can be nothing other than the epitome of cool.

-- Badtux the Music Penguin


  1. That's one good track from that album. I think the best one is "In Liverpool." Great album...

  2. Cool! I mean, hot! I mean, ... thanks for the reminder, 'tux; I hadn't listened to Suzanne Vega in a couple of years. If she sang jazz or blues, she would surely sound a bit like Patricia Barber.

    (BBC... aw, c'mon; by your picture, you're about the same age as I am. Suzanne Vega is not exactly unknown to our generation!)

  3. Jim, I have a hard time finding bad tracks by Suzanne Vega. Even her worst tracks are better than 99% of what you hear from the modern pop tarts. This particular album does spend a lot of time getting play on my iPod, but I have *all* of her albums on my iPod -- every single song she has ever released on any album. Unfortunately until recently it was hard to find anything on YouTube by her...

    Steve: Yes, even today, in her early 50's (but looking like she's in her early 40's), Suzanne Vega is hot in a cool kind of way. I do think that she would have made a great jazz singer back in the age of noir... she has that whole look, that whole air of mystery about her, that look of someone who has seen things that you don't want to ask about, a knowing way she carries herself. She doesn't have a great jazz voice, it doesn't have the range or volume that's required for most of the jazz standards, but people would have fallen all over themselves to have her in their films or appear in their nightclubs anyhow because her voice matches her appearance and her lyrics and her music so well. Suzanne had the whole package (hell, still does), and the music industry spit on her and stomped her flat. You can't even buy her early albums anymore -- all out of print. Siiiiiiiiigh!

    - Badtux the Appreciative Penguin

  4. Hey badtux,
    Cool for sure. Cool to hear someone else also has all of Suzanne's music on their player. Be sure to pick up Vol 1 & 2 of Close-Up, if you haven't already. That's her answer to all of the old ones going away. Great new recordings, mostly just acoustical, and her voice is more beautiful than ever. Vol 3 & 4 next year...

    And all the same things could be said of Billy Holiday, who also didn't have the range and power jazz required, either. Suzanne's power is in delivering emotion, not volume.

    Suzanne who indeed. Go find out BBC. You won't regret it.

  5. When it comes to expressing emotion, it is what Suzanne leaves out as much as what she puts in that makes her work so powerful. You are listening to a song and she's singing in that quiet voice of hers and you suddenly realize what she's singing about and the shivers just start crawling up your spine... she isn't obviously emoting, but you're caught in her web anyhow, a web of mystery and beauty and horror that sucks you in and leaves you washed ashore drained at the end knowing that you have had an encounter with something beyond the mundane. I listen to her work and I analyze it to see if I can replicate some of her technique in my own songs and then I give up and just enjoy it for the masterful work that it is.

    - Badtux the Music Penguin


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