The meaning of the song «Vienna» by Billy Joel

The band didn't have time to shoot the clip when the call came from the record company: urgently bring the video, your song suddenly became a radio hit! And indeed, the single, backed up by the video, in early 1981 reached the 2nd place of the British hit parade and did not leave the charts for 72 weeks. The self-titled album "Vienna" became No. 14. songs

Billy Joel’s “Vienna” is a call to the listener to slow down and enjoy life at their own pace. The song says that ambition and haste can get in the way of achieving long-term goals. Joel directly refers to Vienna, a city known as a center of culture and art, as a symbol of slowing down and finding joy in life. He encourages the listener to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life and not be in a hurry. The chorus emphasizes this idea – “Why don’t you understand that Vienna is waiting for you?”. – implying that life is an adventure if you take the time to enjoy it.

Billy Joel is an American Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter.

In 1977, his album “The Stranger” was released, which included the poignant composition “Vienna”. I first heard this song about ten years ago when I first watched the 2004 romantic comedy 13 to 30.

Jenna, like all teenagers, wants to grow up as soon as possible. In her opinion, thirty is the heyday of life, the time when everything is possible. For her thirteenth birthday, Jenna’s best friend Mat gives her a makeshift dollhouse with glittering, wish-granting pollen strewn across the roof. Jenna wants to become a successful thirty-year-old beauty, and the next morning she wakes up as an adult in a completely unfamiliar apartment. But is it as cool to be an adult as it seems?

Based on the plot, it is difficult to imagine a more suitable musical accompaniment in this film than the famous “Vienna”. Wondering what Vienna, the city of waltzes, has to do with this film? Let me tell you a secret: none. And the song, in general, is not about the city. About what then? Now let’s figure it out!

Curb your fire, crazy child,
You’re so ambitious for a teenager. – it seems as if a grey-haired grandfather convinces his grandson during a leisurely conversation late in the evening.
What can he say and what experience can he share?

Teenagers are hot and fussy people. The banner of maximalism flies over your head, and such storms rage in your soul that you can only marvel. I want to try everything at once in order to find myself and my place in life.
And now this experienced, lived life grandfather says to his teenage grandson: “take your time!”

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The song “Vienna” is an appeal to teenagers, a reminder and admonition: “don’t rush, you will have time for everything.”

No need to run somewhere headlong, it is better to measure your strength so as not to burn out ahead of time.

Sometimes you need to stop spinning like a squirrel in a wheel and chase a dream like a madman. Just turn off the phone and be alone with yourself, reflect and cool off a little from all ambitions, hopes and desires.
The main thing is not to forget that if you stop for a moment and turn off the phone, the end of the world will not happen. You just need to give yourself a break and then you are guaranteed to be able to get to Vienna.

Vienna in this song is not so much a city as an image of the most cherished dream. And how to come to it, if you are always exchanging for trifles, spraying yourself on everything at once? Therefore, take your time, in order to get to Vienna, you will have a whole huge life.

This song is very relevant. Teenagers are so eager to grow up and get rid of guardianship! What for?! What is there in the adult world?! Solid problems, nerves, burning deadlines at work … so why do all teenagers want to grow up as soon as possible ?! Stop and enjoy the moments of youth while there is time!

Time… it is always so short… if we consider the song “Viena” from this point of view, it turns out even more interesting.

“When will you understand
that Vienna is waiting for you?” – is sung in the song. “When will you realize that the “dream” is waiting?” Strange, right? And if you remember that the hero, who is conducting a dialogue with the alleged grandson, is already quite a few years old? For some reason, only one explanation comes to mind in this case: Vienna is the personification of the inevitable end of life for each of us. If we interpret the song from the point of view of “when will you understand that the end is inevitable anyway?”, then a completely different picture emerges.

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Grandfather is trying to convey to his grandson a simple truth: no matter how much you run, no matter how much you fuss, you cannot run away from old age and death. So does it make sense to fuss and rush somewhere headlong? And you can afford to turn off the phone, but not to rest, but to understand the bitter truth: the world will not collapse without you, and if you are gone, no one may even notice it. And it is not in vain that the grandfather, wise with gray hair, says to his grandson: “You will probably die before you have gone half the way.” It is difficult not to bend over and not to give up when the realization of such a simple and at the same time terrible fact suddenly falls on you. After all, we all for the time being think that we will live forever. Remember, as Igor Guberman wrote:

Today, after drinking coffee in the morning,
I felt wonderful peace in myself;

It’s funny: I know that I’m going to die,
But I don’t have any faith in it … ©

Any song, like a coin, has two sides. I showed you both. And which one you like best – decide for yourself.

History of creation «Vienna» by Billy Joel

Our main hit of the group – “Vienna” – has never been very popular, and there were quite objective reasons for that. They were fully voiced by the managers of Chrysalis, who first heard the song – “too slow, too dark, too long.”
The group did not agree with the firm’s opinion and insisted on releasing “Vienna” as a single. As drummer Warren Cann said, “This song was the best representation of what we want to do . ”

At that time, this synth-pop ballad sounded really unusual and unpopular. Unlike many rock bands, ULTRAVOX built their music on the basis of the European “white” tradition. According to Yura, they deliberately wanted to make “Vienna” “incredibly pompous”. And what did you want from the song, the central theme of which was the world capital of opera – Vienna. Hence the choral singing, the piano sounds, and the violin solo played by Bill Curry (the only “live” sounds on this synth track).

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Midge Ure wrote the lyrics of the song under the influence of the 1949 film noir The Third Man (based on the script by G. Green), where the action developed in gloomy post-war Vienna. The images in the song were so vague and mystical that there were those who thought that “Vienna” was dedicated to the famous Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Yur himself will later say that this is just a song “about a holiday romance, just presented in dark ominous tones . “

The musicians logically decided to shoot the video for “Vienna” in Vienna itself. True, Chrysalis flatly refused to sponsor the video, and had to shoot with their own money. It was winter, so when they arrived in the capital of Austria, the musicians discovered that many historical places in the city were closed for cosmetic repairs, and the buildings were hidden by canvases and scaffolding.

We finished filming in an old cemetery near the grave of some famous piano manufacturer (later, this monument will decorate the cover of the single).

The band didn’t have time to shoot the clip when the call came from the record company: urgently bring the video, your song suddenly became a radio hit! And indeed, the single, backed up by the video, in early 1981 reached the 2nd place of the British hit parade and did not leave the charts for 72 weeks. The self-titled album “Vienna” became No. 14.

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