Name: Jon Gordon
Playing with Suzanne Vega: from
early 1984 to late 1986
Jon Gordon started his music career
as a session guitarist, recording also in the late 70's
as a member power-pop band "Tycoon". He became
musician and musical director for Madonna and Suzanne
Vega. And later toured with Mary Travers and Christine
Lavin, and played locally with Patti Scialfa.
Since 1987, Jon Gordon started a career of producer,
composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and engineer
at his own studio "Jon Gordon Music Production".
Studio clients include: Avon Corp, Fox Network, The
American Heart Association, Weight Watchers, Simon &
Schuster Audio, Warner-Chappell Music, Brielle Music,
Billy Straus Music, In-Common Music, NJJ Music, Ronnie
Lawson Productions, Killer Trax, NBC Sports, Patty Scialfa-Springsteen,
The Uptown Horns, Jeff Franzell, Holly Lamar, Maria
Christiansen, Steve Tannen and Lisa Loeb.
Jon Gordon started to accompany Suzanne
Vega live before her signing with A&M. He played
in Suzanne's local shows and contributed to the recording
of several demos. Jon participated in the debut album
"Suzanne Vega" (1985) doing the subsequent
tours of 1985 and 1986. Jon left the Suzanne Vega band
in late 1986, being replaced by Marc
, but leaving recorded the famous guitar
solo in "Luka".
| How did it
happen that you joined the Suzanne Vega band?
I was recruited by Steve
Addabbo. We originally met when we were both playing
guitar in Country Western bands. Subsequently Steve
and I collaborated on some original recording projects.
Steve had formed a management and
production company with his longtime friend Ron Fierstein.
Suzanne was their first artist. Steve thought I would
work well with Suzanne. I have to say, I believe I was
a very good choice. I was the first "outside"
musician brought into the project. For a time, Suzanne's
"band" consisted of Steve and myself.
We began playing as a trio about
a year prior to Suzannes signing to A&M. Not sure of
the dates, but if Suzanne was signed in the fall of
1984, then I believe I started working with her in late
What were the other intruments
used besides your and Suzanne's guitars, in those days?
My recollection is that Steve played
acoustic 6 and 12 string guitar and a little bit of
synth here and there. I think we used my Roland Juno
60 synth, and I believe we tried also incorporating
an Oberheim DX drum machine (also mine) into "Neighborhood
What, according to you, did
you bring to the live performance of Suzanne's songs?
Well, Suzanne once told me that her
mother said I had "animal magnetism". That
aside, I tried very hard to reinforce and amplify the
sensibility of Suzanne's songs without grandstanding
or overbalancing her.
The first time I saw Suzanne perform,
solo, it totally blew me away. In an intimate setting,
she had complete control over the room. It was a thing
of beauty to watch.
I always tried to make my performance
be on the same intimate scale that hers was, and I always
had doubts as to whether a band could really do her
With her performances so delicate
and nuanced, sometimes barely above a whisper, accompanying
her was quite a challenge for an electric guitarist.
Marc Shulman once paid me
the compliment of saying that I had really created the
electric guitar vocabulary for that gig. I'm so glad
he said it, because that was what I was trying to do.
What are the characteristics
of Suzanne's music that attract you the most, both as
a musician and as a listener?
Her lyrics and her vocal delivery.
Her music is very very good at best, but for me it is
her poetry, her voice and her stage presence that really
What are your main music influences,
and musicians you look up to?
Too many to list. Every genre of
music from Gregorian chant to Emo. Every guitar player
of note from Django Reinhart to Slash.
Apart from playing with Suzanne,
which are the other projects, you have been participating
in, that you're more proud of?
A few Indy CD's I've been involved
with, notably: Steve Tannen's first album "Big
on which I engineered, played and associate produced,
and Eytan Mirsky's "Everyone's Having Fun Tonight"
on which I produced, arranged, engineered and played
a number of instruments.
I also was involved in a high school
band with Walter Becker, subsequently of Steely Dan.
I wrote an essay for the Steely Dan site which some
people find amusing:
interview by Josť Carlos Maltez (December 2004)
Last Update: December 10, 2006
Copyright © 2004 José Carlos