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Suzanne Vega sings Queen and the Soldier in Utrecht

Before a new CD is released, an artist often goes on tour to test audiences and promote the CD --- a kind of expectation management. That must be the raison d'etre for Suzanne Vega's recent European tour. There were no CD's or merchandises on sale. What was she doing in Utrecht, of all places? Utrecht, the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and the first stop on her European tour on 20 June 2007. Utrecht, where I live and never expected a big star like Suzanne to visit!

My memory escapes me. Was it 15 years ago that I had learned to play and sing "Queen and the Soldier" in London? I was mesmerised by the song for some fateful reason and my Tanglewood folk guitar served a purpose finally. I was determined to learn it by heart AND sing my heart out.

All I have of Suzanne Vega is an old cassette tape, safely stored in the loft of my London home. Seeing her in Utrecht brought back memories long lost. Why was going to this concert so important to me? Why did I shout and scream and request that she sing "Queen and the Soldier"?

My Dutch friend had queued an hour before the doors opened to get us VIP front row space, less than 2 feet away from Suzanne Vega. After much waiting in the darkened theatre of Tivoli in the museum quarter of central Utrecht, a lone female singer walked on stage. To my disappointment, she was blonde and too young to be Vega --- merely the opening act. That half hour seemed an eternity to endure. And yet Suzanne Vega, when she finally appeared, sang, and gave three encores --- seemed too short.

The story of the Queen and the Soldier is not about power, as several discussion boards have concluded. It's about honour and doing what is right. Of course, the Queen would like to concede, let her crown fall, and get to know the soldier who so bravely ventured into her castle to question her motive. But her duty was to her country.

The person who taught me to sing and play this song was a fine person. He was the soldier, always loyal to the Queen and truly concerned for the Queen. And yet the Queen had a higher purpose in life, a secret perhaps, which she could not share.

And so, while Suzanne Vega sang with her folk guitar, alone on stage, I stood there, hearing the song LIVE for the first time. It was a magical and liberating moment as I let my tears flow freely. I may never understand what the song means, but when I heard it sung by Vega, I realised it wasn't my song but hers.

20 August 2007

Related links:
Suzanne Vega - official community
Queen and the Soldier lyrics
Queen and the Soldier lyrics -easier to read
Suzanne Vega sings Queen and the Soldier - youtube video, live at Karlsruhe, Germany 1997




Anne Ku at the computer

Anne Ku enjoys going to concerts and meeting interesting people. She was tempted to invite Suzanne Vega to her canal-side home. But the electric guitarist declined the invitation.
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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku

writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page. See her publication list for more.
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