There’s something about “Vienna” that I can’t quite put my finger on. There is nothing particularly spectacular about its tune, at least when compared to Joel’s other works, and Joel isn’t particularly extravagant in his vocals. Yet every time it plays I can’t help but fall a little bit more in love with it.
When I was about 16 I came up with a playlist called ‘Life’, nothing special really but I always said it was the playlist I would use if I ever made a film about my life. For whatever reason I had as a stressed and emotional teenager, track 10 is “Vienna” and despite changing all the other songs on my playlist, Joel’s song has always had a place in my life.
I first heard “Vienna” around the time I made the ‘Life’ playlist. I was sat on the sofa with a few friends trying to find something to watch when we finally agreed on the ultimate rom-com 13 Going On 30. There’s this pivotal moment in the film, which if you haven’t watched you’re missing out, where Jenna goes home to her parents after realising that everything has gone terribly wrong in her life. As a result of this I’ve always associated the song with home, going back to my roots in a way I guess. On the ‘Life’ playlist I had always thought it would be one of those songs that would play over the inevitable time in my life when I lose someone I love. Now I think the song would fit better playing over my childhood, the time I spent making my roots and spreading my branches. The opening line is ‘Slow down you crazy child’, and I’ve always held this as some kind of personal motto. As someone who tends to get wrapped up in the little things in life, I always manage to miss the big picture rushing here and there. Maybe I’ve always felt attacked by Billy Joel (I know it’s kind of mad but bear with me) because whenever I listen it’s like he knows exactly what’s wrong with my life before I do. He knows that I need to slow down, he knows that I need to stop fretting about the small things to enjoy the big things, and he knows that his song, no matter what, will make me stop. I’m sure Billy Joel doesn’t actually know all these things, that would be weird, but for the three and a half minutes that I’m listening I don’t really care.
There’s something about “Vienna” that makes me never want to stop listening. If you have never listened to this song, or if you have but not for a while, grab your headphones and find yourself a quiet space. Sit yourself down, press play and close your eyes. You may not realise it at first but it will somehow manage to wind its way around your heart and before long you’ll be so full of emotions that you won’t know what to do with them.
Imagine your home, imagine your roots growing here and there and try to remember why you made them. If you’re like me, you’ll realise that this song in all its simplicity is a masterpiece and you’ll want it on every single one of your playlists.