Sunday 18 October 2009

Suzanne Vega and Luka Revisited and Redefined

A recent comment on this blog made me rethink and reconsider Suzanne Vega’s 1987 hit song Luka. The comment, by the inexhaustible blogger Spike, brought to light what many of us already know: how the same song can mean different things to different people in different situations and in different times.

To Spike (and to some of my friends who I recently polled), the song Luka is about a girl, who is abused.

To me, I’ve always known that Luka is a boy’s name (because of a childhood friend) and therefore, coupled with the fact that the 1987 music video clearly had a boy in it, the very suggestion that Suzanne Vega’s song was about a girl never occurred to me … until Spike’s comment 22 years down the road. I always had it in my mind that Vega’s song Luka is about an abused boy.

The evidence strongly supports the song Luka to be about a boy (i.e. Luka is officially a boy’s name, and Vega’s 1987 music video implied it was about a boy). Also, here are some alleged facts about the song.
However, I can now understand why other people may regard Luka to be a girl’s name; especially since they hear Suzanne Vega singing the song apparently in the first person.

On revisiting the lyrics, a strong case can be made that this song may also be about “wife beating or abuse of women”.
First, it is sung in the first person (a female voice).
Second, it is an altogether familiar scenario for abused wives, or domestic violence in general.

Perhaps if the song's title were to be changed to an unambiguous female name, it could be re-released to raise awareness about “wife beating or abuse of women” with the proceeds going to relevant charities or support groups? I wonder if Suzanne Vega would ever consider that? Perhaps previously she has? Just a thought.

How about Laura / Lisa / Linda / Lucy?
(Sorry for the apparent insensitivity or political incorrectness, but which name sounds more like a female who you may have heard of who might be abused? I know it all depends on individual experiences, but certain names have certain meanings or invoke specific memories to different people. Plus, this HKSAR blog does have a particular “interest” with names.)

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Here are the lyrics to Luka:

My name is Luka
I live on the second floor
I live upstairs from you
Yes I think you've seen me before

If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight
Just don't ask me what it was
Just don't ask me what it was
Just don't ask me what it was

I think it's because I'm clumsy
I try not to talk too loud
Maybe it's because I'm crazy
I try not to act too proud

They only hit until you cry
And after that you don't ask why
You just don't argue anymore
You just don't argue anymore
You just don't argue anymore

Yes I think I'm okay
I walked into the door again
Well, if you ask that's what I'll say
And it's not your business anyway
I guess I'd like to be alone
With nothing broken, nothing thrown

Just don't ask me how I am
Just don't ask me how I am
Just don't ask me how I am

1 comment:

  1. The song itself doesn't mention a gender for Luka and I never paid much attention to the video. But I looked up the meaning of the name Luka and it comes from Russian or Greek and means "Man from Lucania." So, yes, Luka would have to be male. Which means that Ms. Luka So is really a man from Lucania. I think CUHK needs to investigate her/him?