What does Vienna mean?

Billy Joel: Vienna Meaning

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Album cover for Vienna album cover

Vienna Lyrics

Slow down, you crazy child
you're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart, tell me
Why are you still so afraid?

Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You'd better cool it off before you burn it out
You've got so much...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Jul 28th 2014 !⃝

    When asked about his song Vienna Billy Joel stated he saw an elderly woman one day sweeping the street with pride. He saw that she valued what she was doing at such an old age. So the song is about not jumping in so quick, and learning to take your time. Because as he states "You can afford to lose a day or two." Meaning its alright, you can't get everything you want done before your time comes. Also I think the song also states about living in the now as opposed to trying to get to a certain area of life so quick. Because we tend to rush our days in the life we have, worried we won't accomplish what we want to do before our time has come. So Billy I suppose is trying to tell the listeners to slow down and just learn to take things one step at a time.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    May 4th 2013 !⃝

    As life swirls around you, and you're trying to make sense of what you want to accomplish, you're also trying to make sense of life, and what it's about. "Vienna" is a metaphor for life that is ahead of you, and to be lived. Slow down, and realize that life is impossible to figure out, and it is what it is. Billy Joel has figured that out in his own life, and giving us all a glue about how he feels.


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Jun 6th 2015 !⃝

    I think this song refers to both specific names and quotes that symbolize the moral of the song, but I believe the main idea is this: Billy Joel is writing about how as a kid, either he in the past, or someone who inspired him, is struggling to believe that his integrity in chasing his dream is there. He questions himself all too often, and is frantic to prove to himself that he lives up to what he wants out of himself. He has outstanding ambition and character and surely understands, as a teenager, the cold reality of how choices and dedication impact one's turnout in life and who they become ("You know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old."), but he personalizes this very much and can't relax. Sometimes, his ambition leaves him a scattered mess and causes him to overshoot the simple defaults in his life as he is so overwhelmingly focused on his goals ("You're so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need"), and his drive and focus, which is a blessing, is actually something that is causing anxiety to him at the same time. The song seems to be Billy Joel talking to his young self, as he has gained wisdom through age, telling him to keep that ambition and drive, but to stay level-headed and be patient with it. This will allow him to enjoy life before he floods it all with worry, while still keeping focus, and be more efficient so that he's not a mess and doesn't miss the basic important things that are right under his nose.

  4. anonymous
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    Jun 19th 2022 !⃝

    What I see from it is children and teens who crave academic validation and want to grow up so they can prove to people they can do more than this. It’s telling those teens and children to slow down and be a kid for as long as possible, and to have fun. Not to rush through the years even if people tell you to grow up.

  5. anonymous
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    Feb 5th 2022 !⃝

    I remember listening to Billy Joel after leaving a funeral from my grandma. His music made me feel better. I love his music. Have so many favorites. "Piano Man" "Uptown Girl"
    "New York State Of Mind" "Vienna" those are few of many i love. I would love to meet him in person. Tell him, listening to his music always calms me down. I am Bipolar. and i have depression. But his music helps me a lot.

  6. GrandpawGrizzly
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    Apr 21st 2020 !⃝

    "Vienna waits for you" means:

    Soon enough, you will be that old lady content with sweeping the streets. Don't rush to get old. The situation Billy saw in Vienna is everybody's potential future if they live long enough. Better to pause and "smell the flowers" on the way to the end of the road.

    I agree he is sometimes in his psychological basement when coming up with great lyrics.

    Ironically, Vienna comes from an old Dutch word that means "Forest Stream." A sixteen-year-old girl with a very Dutch name, Grace Vanderwaal, who began a singing career at age twelve, now covers Vienna with excellent style. I think she understands what the lyrics mean for her and often deals with her own psyche elevator bumps by writing songs with both gloomy and cheerful lyrics.

  7. anonymous
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    Jun 11th 2014 !⃝

    Why don't you ask Billy Joel what it means? He wrote it.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  8. anonymous
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    Jul 15th 2013 !⃝

    Well, I know this song is about growing up way to fast. Trying to be ahead of where you should be,Its about flying threw life as fast as you can without regarding things that are important. For me, this song symbolizes growing up far to fast and jumping into things you dont understand yet. Im 17, for me this song recongizes my biggest fears. The future.Im frightened, im nearly 18, might as well be thirty. Its not that I have a job, and car early, its just how I am. I rushed to grow up with things like sex, and drugs. Im not sure where im going but the way I live is so fast, and this song makes me think about all that.I fear that the crossroads will never allow me my dream. And I wish I had just sat down earlier, and thought it all out instead of rushing head first into life. im still act so sure, that I know what will become. I know I should have never tried to be an adult so fast. I should have allowed myself to be a child, rather than forced myself to be a druggie, idk what my future holds. From what ive seen I just rush around with boys, Not that im a slut, just i forced myself to be manipulative over the years thinking that someday it would pay off. And losing every bit of childish innocents that from the girl I used to be.

  9. anonymous
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    Jun 11th 2013 !⃝

    Vienna has always been a crossroad throughout history physically and it means that there are going to be crossroads and you need to slow down and think about your decisions. It also refers to the fact that Vienna values its elders unlike in America were we stick them in homes. Which means that Vienna is waiting and you will be usefull.

  10. anonymous
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    Mar 4th 2012 !⃝

    Vienna is referred to as the city as dreams. To me, this songs means that u have to enjoy being immature and juvenile before you can reach your dreams.

  11. anonymous
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    Dec 2nd 2011 !⃝

    i think its a boy who lost his dog and is sad.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  12. anonymous
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    Jul 3rd 2011 !⃝

    Vienna is the place you want to be. You are working your butt off to get there. Billy is saying that your future isn't necessary going to rush at you. Your future, your fate, or, "Vienna" will wait for you, and you can slow down, and take a break, because your future, or "Vienna" waits for you.

  13. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2011 !⃝

    Its about taking your time and not to rush things, like when he says "Slow down, you crazy child" and "Where's the fire, what's the hurry about." Billy Joel said that when he went to vienna everything was calm. That's why he says "Vienna waits for you."

  14. anonymous
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    Jun 20th 2011 !⃝

    Its about taking your time and not to rush things, like when he says "Slow down, you crazy child" and "Where's the fire, what's the hurry about." Billy Joel said that when he went to vienna everything was calm. That's why he says "Vienna waits for you."

  15. ellyn
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    Jan 31st 2011 !⃝

    Several Billy Joel songs are about depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder: I Go to Extremes,Pressure, River of Dreams, Angry Young Man,Close to the Borderline, and Vienna. While I don't believe that Billy Joel has ever publicly stated that he has some form of bipolar disorder or that he has even battled depression, it is clear from these songs that he has. As the previous poster commented, I think Vienna is a reference to the birthplace of psychotherapy. It all started with Freud in Vienna, and numerous other important figures in psychotherapy who also either came from Vienna or went to Vienna. So "Vienna waits for you" refers to the idea that gaining insight and understanding and making change for the better are there waiting for him when he's ready. Specifically, several lyrics in Vienna refer to bipolar: "so romantic on the borderline" meaning the borderline between depression and mania or being mentally healthy and unhealthy; "crazy child"; "cool it off before you burn it out"; "so ahead of yourself" and "only so many hours in the day" refer to mania; "kick off before you even get halfway through" refers to dying halfway through your life. Through all of this, Vienna, symbolizing mental and emotional health, awaits.

  16. anonymous
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    Jan 31st 2011 !⃝

    The song is about pschoanalysis. Vienna is where Freud studied and practiced medicine, becoming a pioneer in understanding the workings of the mind (though many of his theories have been debunked). The lyrics are about understanding one's own psychology, and saying that you need to take a break from life ("take the phone off the hook and get away for awhile") to explore yourself. The "juvenile" refers to that part of us that races to get somewhere without understanding why. Billy Joel is saying, slow down and look inside yourself.

  17. bobdylan
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    Oct 6th 2010 !⃝

    I sang this song alone in my bedroom on the night of my Senior Prom. A few days later I would experience my first break with reality--Bi-Polar Psychosis.
    It's an impossibly beautiful song that reaches every one in each ear and into each heart in it's own way. Around that time, out of the blue, I had decided to become a musician--without even the slightest hint of how difficult it would be.
    One of his relatives, perhaps a great grandfather, was a music teacher (or composer, or violinist or something) in Vienna.
    I can't listen to it without breaking up a bit. Music for me being just like a girlfriend--here one day, gone the next. Joel is a true craftsman. In popular music today they're all gone.....

  18. MrDsclass
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    Jun 12th 2009 !⃝

    7th grade:
    I think that this song is about someone who is trying hard to be perfect and should slow down. "your so ahead of yourself" so I think you need to realize and you need to take your time and you can do it.-M
    CCPA Huntington Park

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