Tom’s Diner

Tom’s Diner

Acrylic on canvas (30in x 40in) 


This painting is a visual interpretation of one of my favorite songs, “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega.

My mom used to sing this song all the time when we were growing up. And though it’s often praised for its simplicity, as I painted the scene and sang the lyrics over and over I was caught by how there are so many emotions and reactions going on in this scene:

The rainy day, the mirror image of the woman in the window and the woman getting coffee, the couple as entranced with each other as the woman is with the memory of a time before the rain began.

The painting follows the lyrics of the song, from the details of the photos in the background to the time on the clock, to the an opened section of “the funnies.” The motif on Tom’s woman’s dress was inspired by the wallpaper in my childhood bedroom when we lived in Kansas City in the early years and the earliest memories of my mother singing this song.

I included the lyrics below with the parts of the artwork that correlate.

IMG_3519 2

I am sitting in the morning
At the diner on the corner
I am waiting at the counter
For the man to pour the coffee

IMG_3532And he fills it only halfway
And before I even argue
He is looking out the window
At somebody coming in


“It is always nice to see you,”
Says the man behind the counter
To the woman who has come in
She is shaking her umbrella

And I look the other way
As they are kissing their hellos
And I’m pretending not to see them
And instead I pour the milk


I open up the paper
There’s a story of an actor
Who had died while he was drinking
It was no one I had heard of

And I’m turning to the horoscope
And looking for the funnies
When I’m feeling someone watching me
And so I raise my head


There’s a woman on the outside
Looking inside
Does she see me?
No she does not really see me
‘Cause she sees her own reflection

And I’m trying not to notice
That she’s hitching up her skirt
And while she’s straightening her stockings
Her hair has gotten wet


Oh, this rain
It will continue through the morning
As I’m listening to the bells of the cathedral

I am thinking of your voice
And of the midnight picnic once upon a time before the rain began

And I finish up my coffee
And it’s time to catch the train


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