Classic Summer Tunes: Billy Joel – Vienna (1977)


‘Vienna’ by Billy Joel, viewed by many as epitomical of his song writing ability, is a beautifully melancholic song with a poignancy that has aged like fine wine. Released as a B-side to his single ‘Just the Way You Are’ in 1977, this soft rock ballad has found fans across the decades, speaking most ardently to the young people in each generation. The song encapsulates the rejection of the ‘carpe diem’ way of life, instead expressing the desire for young people to slow down and enjoy life at their own pace, so they are able to see and appreciate the beauty waiting in every day.

That is not to say that the song doesn’t have resonance with older listeners, with Billy Joel himself stating his inspiration for the song came from a trip to Vienna in an attempt to rekindle his relationship with his estranged father, where in he saw an elderly woman sweeping the streets. He was appalled seeing her having to work but his father explained that the elderly people are treated with more respect and sense of capability here than in America. Even though they are older they can still hold valuable contributions to society. In this song, Joel writes ‘Vienna waits for you’ showing his intent to portray a reminder of the longevity of life. You don’t need to squeeze life into a decade, rushing your dreams to ‘make it’, in a fear of ageing. No matter what age you are, you don’t lose your purpose.

‘Vienna’ is a song that never leaves my playlist or my heart, and I am certain its message will continue to provide comfort for listeners navigating a busy modern world for a long, long time.


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