Tom is a friend of mine

There aren't many singer/songwriters who can mold a song better than Suzanne Vega, playing in Tel Aviv on Sunday.

suzanne vega 248.88 (photo credit: Bert Sanchez)
suzanne vega 248.88
(photo credit: Bert Sanchez)
Back in the mid-1980s, a friend asked if I knew who was singing that song he was always hearing on the radio. It was Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner." "There's something about her voice. It's so provocative," he confessed. twenty-five years later, that whispery, childlike but streetwise quality still unmistakably pins down Vega's voice in any musical lineup - despite the vast changes she and the music industry have undergone in the ensuing years. "Since I'm not with a record company anymore, and there doesn't seem to be any interest, I figured it was time to rewrite the book," Vega told (this) Billboard ahead of her two shows in Tel Aviv on Sunday night at Mann Auditorium. She was referring to Blue Note Records dropping her from their roster after the release of her 2007 album Beauty & Crime, and her subsequent decision to rerecord all of her back catalogue acoustically and release them online through her own record company. "I'm going to test this decentralized system that's developed in the music business, and see if we can get the cash flow going to finance my own records," she said. While selling records in the iPod age might be a challenge for literate singer/songwriters like Vega, her bread and butter remains live performances. Vega feels comfortable entering her 50s, being able to pick and choose from two and a half decades of material, including bona fide standards like "Luka," "Cracking," "Marlene on the Wall," and the aforementioned "Tom's Diner." However, it's a career path that Vega finds more suitable to European and places like Israel where, due to popular demand, a second show was added. "In Europe I have to spend less time explaining myself than in the US. Everything in the US is geared so much toward business. I came to be defined by how many records I sold," Vega relates. Vega performs at Tel Aviv's Mann Auditorium - (03) 528-9163 - on July 19th at 6:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. Tickets cost NIS 220-320.