Tuesday, September 15, 2020

"Solitude Standing" by Suzanne Vega

Song#:  3258
Date:  09/12/1987
Debut:  94
Peak:  94
Weeks:  3
Genre:  Contemporary Folk

Pop Bits:  Folk singer/songwriter Vega scored a left-field hit with "Luka," a track from her second album Solitude Standing. The song would reach #3 on the Pop chart and would earn Vega three Grammy nominations. For a follow-up this title track song would be released. Unfortunately, it just didn't catch on and it ended up being a blip at the bottom of the Pop chart for a few weeks. It also was a minor entry at Rock getting to #43. The failure of the second single didn't matter too much because the album had already peaked at #11 and was certified gold back in July. Later in 1997 it would go platinum. Vega's next album, Days of Open Hand, didn't generate any charting singles, but it still reached #50 and earned two Grammy nods. The LP won one for Best Album Package. Vega's fourth album, the more experimental 99.9F° produced by Vega's soon-to-be husband Mitchell Froom, generated two hits on the Modern Rock chart including the #1 "Blood Makes Noise." The album would be a cult favorite and five years after its release, it would receive a gold certification. Her 2007 album Beauty & Crime would win a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical.

ReduxReview:  With the exception of "Luka," Vega didn't write her Solitude Standing LP with an eye towards the Pop chart. She was a modern folk artist, not a hit maker. So it wasn't really a surprise that a second single failed to do well. It was kind of a crap shoot as to what other track on the album to push out as a single. This one wasn't a bad choice. It along with the modern rock-leaning "In the Eye" were probably the best candidates. Still, neither were hooky tracks that would garner much attention at Pop. This dark track was well-written and nicely produced in an 80s college/indie radio way, but it just wasn't going to retain listeners who loved the quirky, memorable folk-rock of "Luka." I became a bigger fan of Vega's with her 99.9F° album. That gem along with its follow-up Nine Objects of Desire were two of my favorite albums of the 90s. If you don't know them, check 'em out.

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  The Solitude Standing album started off with an a cappella track titled "Tom's Diner." The inspiration for the song was Tom's Restaurant, a diner along Broadway in NYC. While not necessarily famous at the time, the restaurant would gain notoriety when its exterior would be used for Monk's CafĂ© in the hit TV show Seinfeld. "Tom's Diner" was released as a single in a few European countries including the UK where it peaked at #58. That might have been it for the tune, but in 1990 a pair of British producers going by the collective name of DNA decided to do a remix of the song. They took Vega's original vocal, edited it, and then put it over a dance beat. Pleased with the results, the duo then pushed the recording out to clubs under the title "Oh Suzanne." It was all done without consent from Vega or her label. Of course, both found out about the song and its growing popularity, but instead of suing the duo, they made a deal to get it officially (and legally) released as a single as by DNA featuring Suzanne Vega. The song became Vega's second unexpected hit reaching #2 in the UK and #5 on the US Pop chart (#10 R&B/#13 Dance). It would end up being a gold record in the US.


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