Track of the Day: 'Tom's Diner'

By John Hendel

Past TracksDi-di di-di, di da-di di, di-da di-di di-da di-di... Now repeat.

Sound familiar? Just keep listening, humming, and falling back into the melody. Yes, it's the relic godfather of catchy tunes. That song, you know the one--liable to remain stuck in your head for days, trapped, perpetually kicking around and virtually wordless at first but for the soft female voice of Suzanne Vega murmuring along to the notes. And of course we're talking about the DNA version from the '90s, not the a cappella original from the early '80s.

The first incarnation of "Tom's Diner" had its charm but little can match the pull of this dreamy, lackadaisical mix, which features a diner chronicling her rainy-morning surroundings that seem so unsettling in their profoundly perfect (and profoundly beat-driven) mundanity. Vega barely exudes any emotion, "turning to the horoscope and looking for the funnies," hearing a server's greeting ("It is always nice to see you"), and even hearing "the bells of the cathedral." Has a woman "straightening her stockings" ever been quite so portentous? What we have is a classic American morning, that idle aesthetic that comes from waiting and watching, fingering a newspaper or a novel and so harmonized to the bitter taste of coffee served black. "Tom's Diner" offers the sly joy of being on the periphery in a city.

But in the end, it's always the addictive hook that remains...


Suzanne Vega - Tom's diner by ptidavid

On iTunes: Suzane Vega / "Tom's Diner"

new track button.png

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/05/track-of-the-day-toms-diner/239053/