Friday, June 26, 2009

For a Song: Calypso

Suzanne Vega: Calypso


Suzanne Vega is a favorite of mine. In fact, her song The Queen and the Soldier was the first song I ever posted to a blog. So, it’s high time that she made her appearance here.

Blogging about music has taught me some things about my own musical taste. I never realized how drawn I am to songs with strong visual elements until I discovered that this is a recurring theme in my posts. And Calypso is another song with wonderfully realized imagery. Vega needs only a couple of lines to describe the lushness of Calypso’s garden. But Odysseus returns to the sea and his journey, and the final image is of a barren sandy waste of a beach, as she watches him sail away. That he leaves by her choice does not ease her loneliness, which returns like the tide at his departure.

So Vega has found the perfect match of imagery to emotion, and it is completely organic to this story. We know exactly what moved her to write the song. And Vega’s voice and arrangement perfectly fit the material.