Since the age of seventeen, when Suzanne Vega was on the charts with her debut single Marlene on the wall and then the Pretty In Pink soundtrack song Left of Centre, I have been a fan of her music. When I acquired her debut album and played it constantly during swot-vac before my HSC exams, she became my favourite singer, and she still is.
I remember, when her first greatest hits collection, Tried and True, came out in 1999, that it was a sign that I was getting old when one of my long time favourite singers was putting out a greatest hits album.
But at that time, when she included, aside from her soundtrack contributions Left of Centre and Woman on a Tier, two songs which had not previously appeared on any of her studio albums (Rosemary and Book and a Cover), feeling a little bit disappointed, as I knew that there was at least one early song which had not made it onto any studio album.
I knew that because at some point, either in 1986 or 1987, I was browsing Brashs Highpoint (Brashs is a long defunct record chain), and saw an early live album of her music, which had some song whose name I did not quite recall, but which had the word ‘station’ in it.
So for years, I wondered about where I could find that song. Close Up, the four volume re-recording of her back catalogue, did not include it.
Last night, I rediscovered it. When browsing Apple Music, I found recently digitally reissued two early live albums by Suzanne Vega, both of which featured Black Widow Station. That must be it. That niggling question buried deep in the back of my mind since my teenage years is finally answered.
As an added bonus, there is another long forgotten early song, The Rent Song, on one of those live albums. I can see why, perhaps, these songs never made the cut on her early studio albums – there were a lot of great songs to choose from. And later on, I suppose her song writing gradually changed so that they would not be a great fit on her five later albums (particularly not the Carson McCullers inspired concept album she put out as album number 9 in 2016).
Playing those songs now, along with the other classics that appear on those live albums, reminds me a bit of the good times of being in one’s late teens. [Not that I would ever want to be seventeen again.]