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Suzanne Vega — World Before Columbus
Album: Nine Objects Of Desire
Avg rating:
6.9

Your rating:
Total ratings: 612









Released: 1996
Length: 3:20
Plays (last 30 days): 0
If your love were taken from me
Every color would be black and white
It would be as flat as the world before Columbus
That's the day that I lose half my sight


If your life were taken from me
All the trees would freeze in this cold ground
It would be as cruel as the world before Columbus
Sail to the edge and I'd be there looking down


Those men who lust for land
And for riches strange and new
Who love those trinkets of desire
Oh they never will have you


And they'll never know the gold
Or the copper in your hair
How could they weigh the worth
Of you so rare


If your love were taken from me
Every light that's bright would soon go dim
It would be as dark as the world before Columbus
Down the waterfall and I'd swim over the brim


Those men who lust for land
And for riches strange and new
Who love those trinkets of desire
Oh they will never have you


And they'll never know the gold
Or the copper in your hair
How could they weigh the worth
Of you so rare
Comments (66)add comment
 Daveteauk wrote:
NO MORE VEGA - there is WAAAAY too much of her played on here, a completely disproportionate amount of her stuff. Bill, you may like her, but STOP, or at the very least reduce it by,,, a LOT!
 

Learn to use the PSD button
 Daveteauk wrote:
NO MORE VEGA - there is WAAAAY too much of her played on here, a completely disproportionate amount of her stuff. Bill, you may like her, but STOP, or at the very least reduce it by,,, a LOT!
 

Never quite understood the sentiment of asking Bill to stop playing something here at RP. As if your request is special. I know that when something starts playing that I'm not fond of or in the mood for...RP has given everyone the power to play something different or skip. What more do you want? Perhaps the very reason your request exists is precisely the reason RP is diverse and interesting and worth a cultured listen.
NO MORE VEGA - there is WAAAAY too much of her played on here, a completely disproportionate amount of her stuff. Bill, you may like her, but STOP, or at the very least reduce it by,,, a LOT!
The Indians of the Americas were bewildered by the extent of the Europeans' lust for gold, and the lengths they were willing to go to obtain it. In the "General History of the Things of New Spain," Fray Bernardino de Sahagún relates the Aztecs' astonishment:

"The Spaniards appeared to be much delighted, they seized upon the gold like monkeys, their faces flushed. For clearly their thirst for gold was insatiable; they starved for it; they lusted for it; they wanted to stuff themselves with it as if they were pigs. They went about fingering handling the streamers of gold, passing them back and forth, grabbing them one to the other babbling, talking gibberish among themselves."

Cortés told the Aztecs that he and his men "suffered from a disease of the heart which is only cured by gold." Pedro de Cieza de León was inspired to sail to Peru after seeing the Inca gold unloaded in Seville. "As long as I live I cannot get it out of my mind," he said. All of which perplexed - and, in the end, disgusted - the native peoples. The half-Inca historian, Waman Poma, portrayed an Indian asking a Spaniard: "Do you actually eat this gold?" And the Spaniard replies: "Yes, we certainly do!" The last of the great Incas, Manco himself, bitterly remarked, "Even if the snows of the Andes turned to gold still they would not be satisfied."

https://www.pbs.org/conquistadors/orellana/gold_04.html
I have read that this is a song about being a parent-which, to my way of thinking, only intensifies the thought...
 DocStrangelove wrote:
Not my cup of tea.

 
So just eat an apple, then.
 floydoftherocks wrote:
N America SUCKED before Columbus.
 
Another vote for Trump.
Still a good 9 for me. Tremendous melody... nice orchestration. Every man in the surface of this planet would love to be written such a good song from a beautfiful woman.
N America SUCKED before Columbus.
 tunebadger wrote:
I think this is a reference to the supposed pre-Christopher Columbus belief that the world was flat rather than spherical... It's only 'cruel' because there's an edge which apparently she's standing on looking down. I don't think she's being ethnocentric, she's comparing colonial lust for 'land', 'riches strange and new' etc. unfavourably with lust for a person. Ms Vega is definitely not to everyone's taste though - my dad and I used to listen to this album when it came out, much to my mum's dismay...
 
Thanks for providing some common sense about the reference to Columbus. 

No, Suzanne doesn't work for everybody. Her lyrics often invoke a stilled world, like a black-and-white photograph, that hovers around one person regarding another. Her songs can get tiresome and overly studious—coffeehouse poet!—if you listen to them a lot. A lot of the stuff on 99.9F° broke out of that mannered style—my fave album from her.
 wgsu_1978 wrote:
Whew. Hearing that line about Columbus transported me back to a seat at my high school talent show.

So open to misinterpretation that it should have been changed to someone else. Einstein? Or The Beatles, if the intonation and number of syllables need to be the same.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Vega, an intelligent woman, wishes she could take this one back. I'm certain she's heard and read enough guff about it by now.

 
Wait, we can't even mention Columbus anymore? He should be stricken from history, literature, and music? Give me a break. 

She's using Columbus's time/era to make her point. The song is by no means an endorsement of Columbus and several of the lines would make absolutely no sense with your suggested revisions (The Beatles??). Then again, I guess you do know better than Ms. Vega.

Sorry for any "micro-aggressions" in this post, as well as my failure to warn you of any potential "trigger words". Jeesh - is this what discourse has come to? 
Whew. Hearing that line about Columbus transported me back to a seat at my high school talent show.

So open to misinterpretation that it should have been changed to someone else. Einstein? Or The Beatles, if the intonation and number of syllables need to be the same.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if Vega, an intelligent woman, wishes she could take this one back. I'm certain she's heard and read enough guff about it by now.
 jmkate wrote:
So wonderful.

 
Absolutely couldn't agree more
So wonderful.
 tunebadger wrote:
I think this is a reference to the supposed pre-Christopher Columbus belief that the world was flat rather than spherical... It's only 'cruel' because there's an edge which apparently she's standing on looking down. I don't think she's being ethnocentric, she's comparing colonial lust for 'land', 'riches strange and new' etc. unfavourably with lust for a person. Ms Vega is definitely not to everyone's taste though - my dad and I used to listen to this album when it came out, much to my mum's dismay...
 
Thanks for noticing the obvious metaphorical content of this song.  Apparently a lot of people here were not paying attention during high school or college literature classes, even if they are tossing around fifty-cent words.
Strange collection of Nine Objects.
{#Kiss}zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
 Papernapkin wrote:
I admire her retoucher.
 
He is the apple of her eye.  (sorry)

I admire her retoucher.

{#Yawn}

 ambrebalte wrote:

some months after, same segue, works for me too

 
And it happens again....

 DaMoGan wrote:

Soundgarden "Fell on Black Days" to this?

Somehow, it works; at least for me.
 
some months after, same segue, works for me too

this really sounds nothing like tom's diner! i love it.{#Dancingbanana}

Soundgarden "Fell on Black Days" to this?

Somehow, it works; at least for me.


I love Suzanne's work but never ever want to hear "My Name is Luka" again.  Her career will be better for it.  From what I recall, she is a Barnard College graduate (NY, NY).  Wonderful school...worked there for ~ 3 years in the early 90s and was completely impressed by the faculty, alums, and students who worked for me.  The word "brilliant" comes to mind.  Ms. Vega does not disappoint...
She wrote this song for her daughter Ruby.
EssexTex wrote:
"It would be as flat / cruel / dark as the world before Columbo
EssexTex wrote:
I think the sentiments in these lyrics represent the best sort of ethnocentricity and misandry
I think this is a reference to the supposed pre-Christopher Columbus belief that the world was flat rather than spherical... It's only 'cruel' because there's an edge which apparently she's standing on looking down. I don't think she's being ethnocentric, she's comparing colonial lust for 'land', 'riches strange and new' etc. unfavourably with lust for a person. Ms Vega is definitely not to everyone's taste though - my dad and I used to listen to this album when it came out, much to my mum's dismay...
Paul_in_Australia wrote:
So was there a World before Columbo? Was it bleak and fit to be described only in pejorative terms? I need a cheesburger. "It would be as flat / cruel / dark as the world before Columbo Grrrr. Maybe Suzanne needs a history lesson. The indigenous peoples of America got on perfectly well before Columbo arrived. And there had been several civilsations in the World before the civilisation that spewed Columbo and the "Dukes of Hazzard" . Were those civilisations all 'cruel and dark'? What a sexy voice! And was Columbo 'just'a detective in a flasher mac? No he also invented the ball point pen and tantric sex. "Those men who lust for land also lust for Suzanne. And for riches strange and new, like a pressure washer. Who love those trinkets of desire Oh they will never have you" but they can have me anytime" I think the sentiments in these lyrics represent the best sort of ethnocentricity and misandry. Miss Vega, stay behind after class. I want to buy you a hot dog America!
:wink:
jennywho wrote:
I hope I get a chance to see her live someday soon. She's amazing.
She's touring, in San Francisco Nov 12 at The Fillmore.
Bill, you're per-fect! Don't change a thing! Far one of the best tunes of Suzanne "angel's voice" Vega.
nigelr wrote:
A nice SV tune, evocative and thoughtful.
A nice SV tune, evocative and thoughtful.
I just like Suzanne more with every new song I hear. She's one of my top 5 favorite songwriters/poets of all time - but I still don't have all her albums (including this one). Adding this to my list.... I hope I get a chance to see her live someday soon. She's amazing.
jasonv wrote:
Gees Paul, you completely misunderstood her sentiment and the nature of her metaphor.
Thanks for the feedback. Note to self; don't write comments when drunk. But I have re read her lyrics for the insight that I missed. Either it is as complex as a proposition by Wittgenstein, or it is as I perceived it through my wine goggles. Happy to be enlightened!
8. Wow, that's the highest i've ever gone on a post-solitudestanding suzanne tune. good one, sounds like the oldies.
hippiechick wrote:
One of my fave SV songs, even if it isn't pc.
One of my faves also. And don't worry, it's totally pc, as I am positive that Paul_in_australia is NOT from planet Earth.
AsInWestminster wrote:
Ouch. Quick question: why would you automatically assume that the cruel, dark, flat world was North America? Couldn't she be talking about Europe before the Age of Exploration? Think about it -- who has a reputation for believing that the world was flat? Not the Native Americans...
You might also find Isaiah 40:22 interesting reading. Especially those who think the Bible is unscientific!
Ouch. Quick question: why would you automatically assume that the cruel, dark, flat world was North America? Couldn't she be talking about Europe before the Age of Exploration? Think about it -- who has a reputation for believing that the world was flat? Not the Native Americans... Paul_in_Australia wrote:
So was there a World before Columbus? Was it bleak and fit to be described only in pejorative terms? "It would be as flat / cruel / dark as the world before Columbus" Hmmm. Maybe Suzanne needs a history lesson. The indigenous peoples of America got on perfectly well before Columbus arrived. And there had been several civilsations in the World before the civilisation that spawned Columbus and the 'discovery' of the new World. Were those civilisations all 'cruel and dark'? And was Columbus 'just' a buccaneer? "Those men who lust for land And for riches strange and new Who love those trinkets of desire Oh they will never have you" I think the sentiments in these lyrics represent the worst sort of ethnocentricity and misandry. Miss Vega, stay behind after class and write an essay on "What the ancient Greeks can teach modern Americans"
This is such an excellent album. :yes:
One of my fave SV songs, even if it isn't pc.
Paul_in_Australia wrote:
So was there a World before Columbus? Was it bleak and fit to be described only in pejorative terms? "It would be as flat / cruel / dark as the world before Columbus" Hmmm. Maybe Suzanne needs a history lesson. The indigenous peoples of America got on perfectly well before Columbus arrived. And there had been several civilsations in the World before the civilisation that spawned Columbus and the 'discovery' of the new World. Were those civilisations all 'cruel and dark'? And was Columbus 'just' a buccaneer? "Those men who lust for land And for riches strange and new Who love those trinkets of desire Oh they will never have you" I think the sentiments in these lyrics represent the worst sort of ethnocentricity and misandry. Miss Vega, stay behind after class and write an essay on "What the ancient Greeks can teach modern Americans"
This. This! Is a BIG smile. :)
Paul_in_Australia wrote:
So was there a World before Columbus?
Gees Paul, you completely misunderstood her sentiment and the nature of her metaphor.
So was there a World before Columbus? Was it bleak and fit to be described only in pejorative terms? "It would be as flat / cruel / dark as the world before Columbus" Hmmm. Maybe Suzanne needs a history lesson. The indigenous peoples of America got on perfectly well before Columbus arrived. And there had been several civilsations in the World before the civilisation that spawned Columbus and the 'discovery' of the new World. Were those civilisations all 'cruel and dark'? And was Columbus 'just' a buccaneer? "Those men who lust for land And for riches strange and new Who love those trinkets of desire Oh they will never have you" I think the sentiments in these lyrics represent the worst sort of ethnocentricity and misandry. Miss Vega, stay behind after class and write an essay on "What the ancient Greeks can teach modern Americans"
Mari wrote:
"Those men who lust for land And for riches strange and new Who love those trinkets of desire Oh they will never have you And they'll never know the gold Or the copper in your hair How could they weigh the worth Of you so rare" :cry:
:sad: :cry:
evidently she wrote this song about her daughter, and whenever I think about that while listening to this song, it makes me feel so sad.
Click on LRC in the orange bar at the top. Then Upload Songs or Check Your Upload Status Then Upload File . mojoman wrote:
I have every album she released, but forgive my technical ignorance: how do I upload something?
I used to have a Vega.
I'm sorry, but this is horrendous.
Not even getting into her voice and songwriting, I've noticed that the production quality on all of Suzanne's albums is truly excellent. :music:
chasech5 wrote:
Ditto on more Vega. Uploads, anyone?
I have every album she released, but forgive my technical ignorance: how do I upload something?
Foot was tappin' :)
Ditto on more Vega. Uploads, anyone?
toastee wrote:
yep...like another Suzanne Vega song...so far so good...I may be a fan soon 8-<
I was never a big fan, but I can can add SV my RP turn-on list.
wiflyer wrote:
I have always thought Suzanne Vega was pretty dull, marginal. :??:
Well, you've always been wrong!
My favorite Suzanne Vega album. Very sexy.
yep...like another Suzanne Vega song...so far so good...I may be a fan soon 8-<
What a beautiful, smooth voice she has. Let's hear more from her.
anything from suzanne vega is good stuff. got hooked from the song Luka and book of dreams. excellent songwriter.
Beautiful.
:D one of my favorite S. Vega songs.
I don't know if she writes her own songs, but if she does they are great! :cool: I have yet to hear a Suzanne Vega song (here on RP) that I dislike.
It\'s funny... it\'s hard to believe how many people like to trash her just because she had an 80\'s hit. How about getting out of the 80\'s and listening to her music? This is a GREAT song. I agree, though... if you don\'t have a child, you may not ever \'get\' this song. I do, and do... :)
My name is Puka, I will make you hear me sing some more.
I have always loved the \'feel\' of her music. ok, not \"Luka\", but you can\'t say she isn\'t distinctive :lol: Hey, play \"Tom\'s Diner\" and see how many people trash it! :moon:
I have always thought Suzanne Vega was pretty dull, marginal. :??:
A good song off a great album. Saw her live a few years ago in a small venue, and she was terrific (except for the one song that her newborn child up in a box seat cried all the way through) ...