Tom’s Diner

Happy TUNEBACK TUESDAY!! Today I’m tuning it back to one of my favourite songs, “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega. Watch both the original version and the DNA remix below…

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: April 1, 1987

TRIVIA: The “Tom’s Diner” of the song is Tom’s Restaurant in New York City, a diner on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street. Singer and songwriter Suzanne Vega was reputedly a frequent patron of the eatery during the early 1980s when she was a student at nearby Barnard College. The mid-twentieth century diner would later become famous as a location for some exterior scenes in the popular 1990s television sitcom Seinfeld.

In 1990, two British record producers remixed “Tom’s Diner”, grafting her vocals onto a dance beat from Soul II Soul and turning her simple ad-libbed outro – “Da da da duh, doo da-doo doo” – into the song’s driving hook. Without permission from Vega, her record label, or publisher, the duo released the remix on a limited basis for distribution to clubs as “Oh Suzanne” by “DNA featuring Suzanne Vega”. Vega’s record company of the time, A&M, decided to buy and release the remix rather than take DNA to court for copyright infringement. A&M struck the deal after consulting with Vega, who liked the interpretation, and DNA, who conducted the transaction through intermediaries without revealing their true identities.

An article in the now defunct magazine Business 2.0 revealed that “Tom’s Diner” was also used by Karlheinz Brandenburg to develop the audio compression scheme known as MP3 at what is now the Fraunhofer Society. He recalled: “I was ready to fine-tune my compression algorithm…somewhere down the corridor, a radio was playing ‘Tom’s Diner.’ I was electrified. I knew it would be nearly impossible to compress this warm a cappella voice.”

BONUS VIDEO: Here is the DNA Remix…

See you next Tuesday!!

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