Tom’s Diner: Seinfeld, Suzanne Vega, and ’90s Nostalgia

Tom’s Diner is having a bit of a moment … again. Of course, it’s a purely nostalgic moment this time, but a moment nonetheless. In January, everyone freaked out because Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander were spotted there filming something. It turned out to be exactly the only thing a reasonable person could have suspected — an episode of Seinfeld’s excellent web interview show, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. But everyone wanted it to be a Seinfeld reunion movie, or special, or pilot for a sequel show, or some other such horrific idea. I love them together, but seriously. Let’s not ruin the legacy. And more importantly: Do you really think Jerry Seinfeld, who is as famous as he is and as good at what he does simply because of his impeccable taste, would do such a thing?

Now Tom’s Diner has shown up again in this very fun New York Post piece, in which Suzanne Vega reminisces about the New York inspirations behind many of her songs. Of course, her most famous song is “Tom’s Diner,” as it should be, because it is a perfect little piece of poetry. And because the only thing that could happen to make that song better did, in fact, happen: In 1990, the British dance producers DNA found the song and made a killer remix. I knew every word to that song, which was almost a rap, and this was a skill that for some reason impressed my fellow cheerleaders. “I open up the paper/There’s a story of an actor/Who had died while he was drinking/It was no one I had heard of …”

I saw Vega play at City Winery a few months ago and found her far more delightful than even her delightful ’90s hits. In fact, I had a fight with my boyfriend that night because I identified her mostly with my Lilith Fair-going days of obsessing over singer-songwriter girls, and he insisted that she was much more experimental than that. I think we’re basically both right: She’s super experimental, but she was briefly viewed through the commercial lens of the ’90s singer-songwriter girl trend that brought us Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, et al. In any case, she’s awesome.

Sometimes I want to just write a book about Tom’s Diner instead of Seinfeld.

Let’s cue up some Suzanne Vega/DNA in its honor:

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