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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 'cause 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

single cover
Single Release : 05.1987
Lyrics : Suzanne Vega
Copyright : © 1987 AGF Music Ltd. & Waifersongs Ltd. (ASCAP)
Album : Solitude Standing

"Solitude Standing" - tracklist :

Notes:

The story is partly based on a real character, a once upon a time neighborhood kid of Suzanne named Luka Vega. [Ed.]

"Luka was a boy I used to see in my old neighborhood, although it's not necessarily about him. It is his name, I did get his character, but this is not really the situation that he was in, and actually it could be about almost anybody who has been abused in some way."
In concert: London School of Economics, England, October 24, 1985

"A few years ago, I used to see this group of children playing in from of my building, and there was one of them, whose name was Luka, who seemed a little bit distinctive from the other children. I always remembered his name, and I always remembered his face, and I didn't know much about him, but he just seemed set apart from these other children that I would see playing. And his character is what I based the song Luka on. In the song, the boy Luka is an abused child , in real life I don't think he was. I think he was just different".
From the Hamilton Police Child Abuse Section website (http://www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca/inservic/childabuse/luka.htm)

"There was a boy whose name was Luka who lived upstairs from me, who seemed like a happy child. Not exactly happy, but he was not abused, as far as I knew. But I would watch him and he seemed sort of set apart from the other kids when he was playing, and I remember thinking I would take his character and use it for that particular idea. Write it from his voice, because in that way I wanted the song to stand up on its own, which I think the character songs do, if you do them well. Because I wanted to write from the point of view of a nine-year old boy, I was making it as simple as possible. I was also aware that the audience in the song is the neighbor. So it was kind of like writing a play. First of all, how do you introduce the character? You do that by saying, my name is Luka, I live on the second floor. And then you get the audience involved, saying, I live upstairs from you. So you've seen me before. You're incriminating the audience. You're pointing the finger without reall doing it. You're unfolding this story that can't really be told and you're involving the audience in it and that was what I wanted to do."
The Performing Songwriter Magazine Interview, by Bill DeMain (http://www.vega.net/perfsong.htm)

Suzanne about the creation of a character:
"Sometimes I'll create a character and the obvious example I guess is Luka, which is written from the point of view of a nine year-old boy who is abused by his parents. In that particular case there was a problem. Because there was a boy in my building named Luka who lived upstairs from me. Who was not abused at all. I never expect the song to become popular. He was nine. We had the same last name. His name was Luka Vega and I had received his Junior Scholastic's. He rang my buzzer one day and I, and I opened the door. And I said "Oh, YOUR Luka Vega". And I said, "My name is SUZANNE Vega and we have the same last name". And he looked at me like, "Yeah big deal I need to go upstairs and use the bathroom." So that was really the only time I ever spoke to him. But after the song became popular; I heard from my old roommate who said that, his, uh, he had come back to my old apartment with a girl when I guess that he must have been fifteen or sixteen by the time the song was really big. And he asked my roommate, "Would you please, tell this girl that Suzanne Vega really did live here." So he DID know that I lived downstairs. He didn't seem traumatized by it. He was using it to get girlfriends as far as could see."
In conversation with Vin Scelsa from the album "In Their Own Words, Volume Two: A bunch of Songwriters Sittin' Around Singing", live at The Bottom Line, New York, 1996 (http://www.vega.net/scel96.htm)

"I wanted to write a song from that particular point of view, that of a person who can't speak. It was almost like a theatrical problem. Here is someone with this problem, but they can't talk about it. And it worked, it really connected with people."
[...]
"I spent a good view months thinking about it and then writing the song took two hours. I still remember it was a Sunday and I remember wondering how this would go down. And it took a bit of time."
Interview with Robin Marshall, The Budapest Sun Online, June 26, 2003 - Volume XI, Issue 26 (http://www.budapestsun.com/full_story.asp?ArticleId=%7B7E8E34949A0C495FBAC3CFE79BC120C9%7D&From=Style)

Suzanne on her inspiration for writing "Luka":
"Some people find it a surprise that I was listening to Lou Reed’s ‘Berlin’ album on the day that I wrote ‘Luka’, probably to sharpen and focus myself"
Interview with Seth Rogovoy, The Berkshire Eagle, on November 8, 2002 (http://www.rogovoy.com/325.shtml)