Great Rock Albums of 1987: Suzanne Vega- Solitude Standing

Here’s further proof of the contradiction that is me. While I was a total metalhead by 1987, there was still some non-metal music which appealed to me. And you couldn’t get much further from metal than this mellow rock album from Suzanne Vega. However, as I reflect back to that time, I was starting to get into singers on an acoustic guitar singing songs with lyrics which had a lot of meaning, especially politically charged ones. While I don’t hear anything political in the lyrics on the tracks of her “Solitude Standing” album, there is a lot of meaning in the lyrics of her songs.

There is a simple stroke of genius in her opening and closing songs, both titled “Tom’s Diner.” The opener is an a cappella version that tells a story of what could be a typical day at any American diner, short and to the point. The closer is an instrumental version and if Suzanne wanted to, she could have easily put the melody of the closer to the lyrics of the opener, it would have fit perfectly. However, it’s the second song which really sends shivers down my spine. “Luka” is about a battered partner who is in denial about what is going on. Like many battered partners, Luka blames herself for being clumsy and that deep inside, her batterer truly loves her. It’s some very intense stuff!

If “Luka” wasn’t dark enough, then “In the Eye” is even darker. From what I hear, it’s about someone who would face down their killer and look them in the eye. One might conclude that Suzanne had some serious issues here. On the other hand, “Night Vision” seems to be more positive. The lyrics are a metaphor for getting through when it appears to be dark, using your ‘night vision.’ I heard that term a lot when I was in the service. What sticks out more about the track is the haunting acoustic guitar in the background.

That’s the great thing about “Solitude Standing.” The interesting lyrics are one thing, I’m not looking for meaning on every song but every song is supported by a soft acoustic guitar, light rock sound which I find captivating. Maybe that’s just me mellowing with age a bit. After all, there is only one guitar solo on the album and that appears on the title track. There is some sort of uniqueness in each track though. Take “Language” for example. On this track, she does her own backing vocals and the two voices together blend to whet your curiosity to the rest of the song. “Wooden Horse” is also a very eerie sounding track and would have made a good closer too.

Track Listing:

  1. Tom’s Diner
  2. Luka
  3. Ironbound/Fancy Poultry
  4. In the Eye
  5. Night Vision
  6. Solitude Standing
  7. Calypso
  8. Language
  9. Gypsy
  10. Wooden Horse
  11. Tom’s Diner (Reprise)
Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega- vocals, acoustic guitar

Marc Shulman- electric guitars

Anton Sanko- synthesizers, classical guitar (track 5)

Michael Vasceglia- bass, synthesizer (track 11)

Stephen Ferrera- drums, percussion

History seems to show that Suzanne Vega spearheaded a small invasion of female folk singers which would come about in 1988. I’ll be visiting a lot of those. Anyway, for a metalhead like me at the time, “Solitude Standing” was a great way to mellow on and fully appreciate the messages Suzanne conveyed.

Next post: Crowded House

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17 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1987: Suzanne Vega- Solitude Standing”

  1. funny what resonates with us right…guess thats music for ya! Looking forward to next post, big crowded house fan!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you. Despite not being what I normally listened to around that time, this was the odd ball that caught my attention. Luka and Tim’s Diner were great examples of how good songs can be liked by all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Gypsy – such a great song.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vega’s awesome. I know a bunch of metalheads that love other stuff too. It’s all good! \m/ \m/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Back then, I was 16-17 yo and being a shallow teenager, didn’t like the “Luka” song much. Since then, I’ve developed a big appreciation for it. Some songs grow on you as you get older.

    Liked by 1 person

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