Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

10. Suzanne Vega99.9F°

I could have put pretty much all her albums on the list. She is one of the artists I’ve listened to the most. She taught me to play guitar because I got this guitar book, the Solitude Standing guitar book, when I was learning how to play guitar. I just didn’t want to play Pink Floyd and I didn’t like ‘Stairway To Heaven’. I was so frustrated and then I found this book and it saved my life and I learned how to play the guitar. The title track on this album kind of nails what she is, at least to me, and why she isn’t an artist that comes up more, which I find very infuriating because I think she should have been much more famous and much more referenced. She has so many great lyrics. She deserves more people’s noses sniffing around in her lyrics and songs but maybe it’s because she’s so subtle. I saw her perform a week ago for the first time. It was my birthday present. She was playing at a festival near where I grew up and I happened to be quite close to there and I went to see her. It wasn’t the best circumstance, the summer festival, outside, everybody’s getting drunk, but she was very good. She says in this lyric: "It could be normal but it isn’t quite." It’s very subtle. It’s almost something, but not quite. "You seem to me like a man on the verge of burning." I think she’s very good at pointing towards something very strong but very softly. So a very subtle pinpointer into something very deep or very dark or very specific. She’s like an emotional Google Maps. She’s also an artist I always want to put on when we tour but I never do because I feel like she’s one of those artists that… I know this is stupid, but I’ve toured with so many guys, and I’ve listened to so much music that they’ve chosen and I’ve so many times wanted to put on Suzanne Vega but I haven’t. I’m on the verge of putting it on but I don’t quite. Maybe it’s the Tori Amos syndrome, if you know what I mean. She could, by the way, also be on this list but then we would go into political territory. But I do really think that Suzanne Vega deserves more attention. She’s a classic.

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