Tom's Diner

Album: Solitude Standing (1987)
Charted: 2 5
Play Video


  • "Tom's Diner" is an a cappella song that became a hit in 1990 when the British production duo DNA added a beat and released the remix as a bootleg. The contrast between Vega's subtle vocal and the driving dance rhythm meshed unexpectedly well. Of course, DNA didn't ask Vega's permission, and when Suzanne first heart it, she said she wasn't sure whether she should sue them or congratulate them. She decided against litigation and her record company, A&M, proving that sometimes there's more to be gained without filing a lawsuit, officially released the remix along with other bootleg recordings that had emerged, including one with a German disco flavor and another with a reggae beat.
  • Suzanne Vega wrote this song while eating breakfast at Tom's Restaurant on the corner of Broadway and 112th Street in New York City. Tom's has another famous place in pop culture as well: it was Jerry Seinfeld's hangout in his hit sitcom Seinfeld. On the show, where it was called "Monk's Cafe," the "Tom's" was cropped out so the exterior sign just said "Restaurant," and the interior shots were done with TV magic on a sound stage.
  • The song has been sampled many times by other artists, including Tupac for his track "Dopefiend's Diner," Aaliyah on her single "Hot Like Fire", Drake on a cut titled "Juice" and David Guetta on his tune "Let It Be Me."
  • Giorgio Moroder covered the song for his 2015 Déjà Vu album. His version features vocals by Britney Spears. "The song doesn't have a big range, and I added a bridge and some instrumental stuff," the EDM godfather told Billboard magazine. "Britney sounds so good, you would hardly recognize her."
  • When German engineers were developing the MP3 file format, they used this song to test their creation, checking for loss of fidelity. They picked an a cappella tune because they were particularly concerned about degrading the human voice.
  • Fall Out Boy sampled this song and used various elements from it on their 2014 hit "Centuries."
  • The German rock groups AnnenMayKantereit and Giant Rooks recorded a cover of the song in 2019 that went viral on TikTok in March 2022 as people used the singing duo's unique and expressive vocals to soundtrack videos on the platform. Their version peaked at #63 on the UK singles chart and #78 on the Hot 100.

Comments: 13

  • Delphine from IrelandYou can't omit to mention it was also sampled in Fall Out Boy's Centuries!
  • Betj from Lima, OhThis song was in Untamed Heart with Marissa Tomei and Christain Slater. I loved it the first time I heard it.
  • Bmn from Hisuan, ArgentinaIs it just me who thinks this reminds a little of Luther Vandross' "Never Too Much"?
  • Fred from Laurel, MdDNA not only added a beat (and some rather pleasant, 'dreamy' strings, prob'ly synth), they removed some words. Not many, but it changed (ruined) the whole character of the song for me--they chopped the ending, destroying the point of the song! The excised part starts with "I am thinking of your voice..." The 'midnight picnic' they removed the reference to, was one of those pleasant memories that makes hectic life in the city (hinted at in the rest of the song) bearable for the speaker, IMHO.

  • Murali from Hyderabad, IndiaTom Diner is called the mother of MP3. Coz MP3 compression is based on this song.
  • Salamander from Panama Canal Zone, United StatesSuzanne Vega has confirmed that the dead actor she refers to in the song was William Holden, who died in 1981, when "Tom's Diner" was written. This song should be categorized as "More songs inspired by newspaper or magazine articles".
  • Ralph from Newton, MaMax, if by nickname you mean what they called it on Seinfeld, it was called "Monk's." Not to razz on anyone else by I hate this song.
  • Emily from Abingdon, Va"A capella" means without instruments, just voices.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI really like this song, unlike my friends. I love Seinfeld. what does acapella mean?
  • Ron from Qc, OtherWhat about the very notable fact that this song was the first ever encoded to MP3?
  • Sum Sum from New Delhi, Indiagood song.. liked the dancing in the video...
    "when she s straightening her stockings, her hair has got wet"....da..da..da.da
  • Max from New York, NyTom's diner is an actual location in New York's Upper Westside that was actually a popular shooting location for the show Seinfeld. They had a nickname 4 it and I don't remember what they called it. My source is actually Suzanne Vega herself.
  • Alan from Singapore, SingaporeA rap singer named Nikki D sampled this song for her hit Daddy's Little Girl
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Jonathan Cain of Journey

Jonathan Cain of JourneySongwriter Interviews

Cain talks about the divine inspirations for "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Faithfully."

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song Spoofs

A Monster Ate My Red Two: Sesame Street's Greatest Song SpoofsSong Writing

When singers started spoofing their own songs on Sesame Street, the results were both educational and hilarious - here are the best of them.

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennittSongwriter Interviews

The Celtic music maker Loreena McKennitt on finding musical inspiration, the "New Age" label, and working on the movie Tinker Bell.

Tom Johnston from The Doobie Brothers

Tom Johnston from The Doobie BrothersSongwriter Interviews

The Doobies guitarist and lead singer, Tom wrote the classics "Listen To The Music," "Long Train Runnin'" and "China Grove."

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"

Dave Alvin - "4th Of July"They're Playing My Song

When Dave recorded the first version of the song with his group the Blasters, producer Nick Lowe gave him some life-changing advice.

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The Devil

Five Rockers Who Rolled With The DevilSong Writing

Just how much did these monsters of rock dabble in the occult?