Thursday, September 27, 2012

Small Blue Thing

Suzanne takes your hand. And she leads you to the river.

OK, maybe Leonard Cohen's Suzanne did that, but not Suzanne Vega. Though the lovely and brilliant Ms. Vega does take us somewhere with her quirky and exquisitely crafted songs and stories. And that somewhere is always impressive, whether she's wearing rags and feathers or not.

Scott and I have talked a lot about Suzanne over the years, and admittedly he knows infinitely more about her than I do. But I still love her stuff, her voice, her meticulous attention to every word she sings. And on more than a few days I put on one of her albums and soak in the wondrous artistry.

Today was one of those days, on the drive into work. And the album was her first. And the song that stood out today was "Small Blue Thing," the musical equivalent of a perfect little piece of blown glass. Delicate, singular, complete.

Today I am a small blue thing
Like a marble, or an eye
With my knees against my mouth
I am perfectly round
I am watching you

I am cold against your skin
You are perfectly reflected
I am lost inside your pocket
I am lost against
Your fingers

Very few people can write lyrics like this - it's like an extended haiku, deeply personal and oblique and laden with sharp, focused images. And what I admire is how confident Suzanne was that they would work as lyrics, how wonderfully they would play against bell-clear guitar notes and how they would spring to life in her wholly unique voice.

Here's a terrific live performance that really does demonstrate the fragile, specific beauty of "Small Blue Thing."

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