I’ve known for some time that I share a birthdate (born on the same day, July 11, and the same year [look it up if you want] with three professional musicians: my late wife Donna Young Eichenwald (double bassist and recorder soloist, performer in symphony orchestras and smaller ensembles along with Manhattan cabaret rooms and piano bars), the singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega (fine writer and singer, many hits and albums to her credit), and Richie Sambora (former lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for Bon Jovi). I’m not a professional musician, but music has played a central part in my life and I’ve written about music and the people who make it for various publications and still do. So make of that what you will; I don’t know what to make of it myself, but here we are.
A while ago I started following Suzanne Vega on Twitter, and from this have noted another very odd coincidence: she has two cats, named Cinnamon (who resembles our late cat Lightning) and Caramel. I know this from her posting photos of them. I have a dog named Cinnamon, and once had a hamster named Caramel.
And oh, yes, I have a son named Luka (not named after that Vega song, though; that would have been too weird). My Luka was, by the way, the one who named our pets.
Also, although Suzanne Vega was born in California, we both spent our early childhoods in New York City, her in Manhattan and me in Queens.
And so this year I decided to dress up like her for Halloween. Why? It was just time for it, I guess. I wouldn’t really call it a feat of dressing in drag (drag lite?) because Vega has kind of an androgynous, quirky look anyway. Don a top hat, auburn bangs, dark jacket and slacks, maybe slather on some red lipstick and tote around an acoustic guitar and a large green apple (this from the cover of her 1996 album “Nine Objects of Desire”), and you’re pretty much there. (So to recap, this year I cosplayed as Suzanne Vega, Suzanne Vega dressed up as Carrie Brownstein, Carrie Brownstein dressed up as Lena Dunham, and Lena Dunham dressed up as Amy Schumer. Just kidding…)
Trick-or-treating with Luka — who, on his own initiative, dressed as the character Dippy Fresh
from the carton “Gravity Falls” — I got people guessing Tiny Tim and Slash, and many quizzical looks from candy-dispensing householders as I was the oldest trick-or-treater they’d seen that evening or perhaps ever. After I told one man on the street who I was, he responded, with some deliberation, in a Texas accent, “Suzanne Vega. I would not have guessed that.”
I posted photos to Facebook and also got William Tell, Arlo Guthrie, the subject of a Magritte painting, Fiona Apple, even Leonard Cohen. One person, another music hound, got it correct.
In my other life as an arts-and-features freelance writer, I occasionally interview singers and/or songwriters. I tried to interview Ms. Vega once, but her people never got back to me. It seems to be a lost opportunity. Maybe someday I’ll get that interview, or at least a selfie.
I don’t have everything in common with Ms. Vega, it must be said. I’m not a recording artist. I was never married to Mitchell Froom. Nor am I a Buddhist. And I think she can carry off a top hat much better than I can.
No offense, Suzanne. I’d rather be associated with you than Richie Sambora, in any case.