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Monday, December 20, 2010

After One - Tom's Dinner (Rap Version)

Here's a bit of a story about the song Tom's Dinner

The "Tom's Diner" of the song is Tom's Restaurant in New York City, which was later fictionalized as Monk's Cafe in Seinfeld.[2][3]

The song is written as a simple first person vignette of someone stopping at an unnamed diner for a cup of coffee. The song notes the newspaper as well as two women, one who enters the diner and one who stands outside in the rain. The ringing of bells at a nearby cathedral cause the singer to reminisce on an unnamed companion and a picnic previously. When the coffee is finished, it is time to leave the diner to catch a train.

Vega wrote the song based on a comment by her friend Brian Rose, a photographer, who mentioned that in his work, he sometimes felt as if "he saw his whole life through a pane of glass, and [...] like he was the witness to a lot of things, but was never really involved in them." She attempted to think and write in this fashion (including a male perspective[2]) while sitting at Tom's Restaurant, a diner on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street in New York City, which would later become famous as a location for some exterior scenes in the popular television sitcom Seinfeld. (The building belongs to Columbia University and houses some of its programs, as well as NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.) The "bells of the cathedral" that she remarks hearing in the song are those of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, located one block to the east.



The Remix 

In 1990, two secretive British record producers remixed "Tom's Diner" without Suzanne Vega's permission, grafting her vocals onto a dance beat from Soul II Soul, and turning her simple ad-libbed outro — "Doo doo doo doo, doo da-doo doo" — into the song's driving hook. They took the name "DNA" and released their work 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 the single and release it itself rather than taking DNA to court for copyright infringement after consultation with Vega, who liked the interpretation, and DNA, which conducted the whole deal through intermediaries in order to hide their true identities. The remix became a much larger hit than Vega had with the song originally, peaking at #2 on the UK singles chart and #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and became one of a handful of tracks to chart in the top 10 of both the Modern Rock Tracks (#7) and Billboard R&B Tracks (#10) charts. It spawned a number of hip hop, dance, and rock remixes and remakes from artists such as Peter Behrens (drummer from Trio) and Bingo Hand Job, a whimsical one-time collaboration between Billy Bragg and R.E.M. It was also sampled in songs by Public Enemy, Nikki D, Twin Hype, and Lil' Kim, among other hip hop acts.

In 1991, Vega, noting the huge number of remakes of the song, released Tom's Album, a compilation of different versions of the song, spanning a variety of musical genres, including a parody that worked in references to I Dream of Jeannie called "Jeannie's Diner," which Nick-at-Nite would use to promote its airings of the show. The album also featured another DNA remix of one of her songs, "Rusted Pipe."
 


Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom's_Diner#Background 

 

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