The saddest Vienna song?

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roofboy179
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Postby roofboy179 » Mon Aug 25, 2008 5:22 pm

rahau wrote:Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

- "To A Skylark," Percy Shelley

Hard to choose. Passage, Pontchartrain, Drought, among others. But I'll have to go with Recessional. The combination of the lyrics, her singing, and her exquisite piano work reduces me to a basket case every time. I'll never forget the first time I heard Recessional, at Mr. Cheng's house concert, back in '05. What a night ...


Oh, Recessional never occured to me, but now that you mention it, the trumpet in it does give it a sad quality...

Which gets me thinking, Transcontinental 1:30 A.M. seems sad [the trumpet got me on the track of this song] Although, it doeasnt soudn sad, so much as tired. Very jazzy, and definatley on my top 20 favorites (It was gonna be top 10, but that was torture.)

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Postby micro » Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:35 am

probably just semantics but have always thought of many of the songs as melancholy rather than sad, maybe it's just me.

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Postby CandaceC » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:34 pm

I agree with micro. I find "Passage" and "My Medea" to be dark, but not sad. Interestingly enough, the songs I've sobbed like a ninny to and find horribly sad have been things like "In the Creases". I thought long and hard about a sad Vienna song that has personal meaning to me and thought about "The Tower" or "Gravity" (ooo I was a crier for that last summer) but I don't feel like that's consistent. I have yet to hear "Kansas" but I have a good nice miserable sobby sad feeling about it. :D

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Postby Kaze » Wed Sep 03, 2008 6:02 pm

micro wrote:probably just semantics but have always thought of many of the songs as melancholy rather than sad, maybe it's just me.


I think of her songs as melancholy, too. Not many of the songs, though. Just a few. "Recessional", to name one. I do consider "Recessional" to be the saddest, compared to the other songs.

"Pontchartrain" has always struck me as dark, depressing and incredibly haunting. Same for "Passage", though it's more haunting than dark and depressing.

"My Medea" seems like a sort of revenge song to me, judging by the lyrics. I don't think it's sad, more... angry, like the person in the song is mentally unstable.

I think "Daughter" has a kind of sadness in it. The person whose point of view it is, realises that their bond won't be as close as it used to be, they're drifting apart, and there's nothing this person can do about it.

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Postby micro » Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:43 am

Okay, Kansas is truly, truly, truly sad. It has made some halting moves towards melancholy but keeps getting dragged back to sad. Maybe in time its status will change.

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Postby murlough23 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:22 am

I'm gonna go with "Passage". That song is just devastating. It was hard to hear at first. "Ponchartrain", too. Both songs are commendable for their unflinching, artistic, and ultimately sensitive takes on personal tragedy.

How exactly is "Shasta" sad? Unless I'm interpreting it wrong, I thought the woman didn't go through with the abortion. Obviously there are mixed feelings there because for this new life to have a chance at living, the mother's life sort of has to take a major detour in the process. It's certainly a sacrifice. But not a sad one, just a hard one.

Of course, "City Hall" now seems kinda sad in retrospect now that Prop 8 has passed...

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Postby dbeattie » Fri May 01, 2009 12:21 am

Woah! How is Recessional sad? I think you all must be misinterpreting it, drastically? Either that, or I am.

To me, Recessional is one of the most sublimely happy songs of Vienna's career. I believe it paints a set of word pictures in reverse chronological order--Vienna has mentioned in concert how the "memories" in the song are in backwards time order, which is reflected in the linguistic pun she gave to the song name, the obvious alternate meaning of which has to do with closing the album. I see these descriptions as being of a happy couple (the "other" of which is female--to me this means the narrator is male, despite Vienna's female voice--she sings from a male perspective sometimes, see for example Homecoming--although there are, in our society, other possiblities--see for example City Hall), the narrator of which is a naturally cautious person (perhaps he had been burned one too many times before meeting her). The first scene is in the "present" and her complete attention to him and their being in love overcomes his insecurities. I won't describe my interpretation of the scene further unless needed. ;) The second scene is in the past, when her newfound trust in him leads her to be comfortable enough to sleep on his shoulder, "dreaming through the noise" of the airport. He still doesn't know her well enough to be secure in his interpretation, but doesn't want to screw up the moment, and is thus "afraid to move". And then the third verse's description is a collection of little memories from the time frame when they first met, showing how he liked her right away and wanted to get to know her, but was taking it slowly.

In summary, I've been really quite sure that Recessional is a story of love triumphing over insecurity. Am I wrong?

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Postby murlough23 » Fri May 01, 2009 12:26 am

dbeattie wrote:In summary, I've been really quite sure that Recessional is a story of love triumphing over insecurity. Am I wrong?


Due to Vienna describing it as a "love song in reverse", I had interpreted it as a song about a couple who starts off knowing each other very well, who is happy and in love, and over the course of the song they become indifferent strangers. Which is kinda sad, but also alarmingly normal.

But then it could be told chronologically in reverse, going back to the couple's first moments together at the end of the song, which would fit more with your interpretation... I think.

In truth, it's probably one of those things that Vienna left deliberately ambiguous.

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Postby rahau » Fri May 01, 2009 4:43 am

dbeattie wrote:Woah! How is Recessional sad? I think you all must be misinterpreting it, drastically? Either that, or I am.


It's probably just me. I have my own interpretation, which is no doubt completely, totally, preposterously off-base. But here goes:

The song is written from the point of view of a man who has just been placed in a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients. As the song opens, he's talking with his wife - except he's not quite sure who she is. As they talk, there are frustratingly incomplete flashes of their past life together. He knows she's someone important, maybe ... his wife. Maybe.

Who are you, taking coffee, no sugar?
Who are you, echoing street signs?
Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover?


The trumpet solo evokes the man's loneliness and anguish. He's almost sure this woman chatting with him is someone very important. Almost. But damn it, he can't remember. He just wishes he could know for certain ...

Well anyway, she says ... I'll see you around ...

This is what she said to him the first time they met ... and what she says as she leaves their visit.

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Postby roofboy179 » Fri May 01, 2009 5:42 am

rahau wrote:
dbeattie wrote:Woah! How is Recessional sad? I think you all must be misinterpreting it, drastically? Either that, or I am.


It's probably just me. I have my own interpretation, which is no doubt completely, totally, preposterously off-base. But here goes:

The song is written from the point of view of a man who has just been placed in a nursing home for Alzheimer's patients. As the song opens, he's talking with his wife - except he's not quite sure who she is. As they talk, there are frustratingly incomplete flashes of their past life together. He knows she's someone important, maybe ... his wife. Maybe.

Who are you, taking coffee, no sugar?
Who are you, echoing street signs?
Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover?


The trumpet solo evokes the man's loneliness and anguish. He's almost sure this woman chatting with him is someone very important. Almost. But damn it, he can't remember. He just wishes he could know for certain ...

Well anyway, she says ... I'll see you around ...

This is what she said to him the first time they met ... and what she says as she leaves their visit.


Recessional is one of those amazing songs where, really, anything can fit. One of my friends figured it was about a little girl's life, but from her teddy bears point of view, and another figured it was about leaving one's home in search of something better. Anyway, the trumpet solo does sound somewhat sad, and it's in a minor/flat key(Cm), which makes it sound sad as well. Regardles,s it's a beautiful song.

For some reason I lump it in with No Gringo (Maybe its because No Gringo is in Cm, too).

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Postby sheeba » Mon May 04, 2009 1:42 am

One of my very favorites, Nothing Without You, is right up there. I think it's deeply sad...and beautiful. I just listened to six different live versions of it and was thinking how sad it was when I came across this thread...weird. And while we're on the subject, for all you sad lovers, I'd recommend the film The Saddest Music in the World if you haven't seen it.

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Postby NeonFishnets » Wed May 06, 2009 2:45 am

I'm gonna agree with Nothing Without You. Very sad.

Kansas, however is probably my top choice for sadness factor for reasons already mentioned. Not only does it have kind of a melancholy feel to it, but the lyrics are sad as well.

I also find The Tower pretty sad, but that's probably because I can relate to it really well.
The rain'll be gone in the morning,
But I'll still be here in the morning

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Postby slinkytwf » Wed May 06, 2009 3:22 am

I have to go with The Atheist Christmas Carol, for reasons that I could not explain without bursting into tears at my keyboard. It struck a very personal chord. Otherwise, I'd have to go with Passage.

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Postby NeonFishnets » Wed May 06, 2009 10:38 am

^Really? The Atheist Christmas Carol seems pretty hopeful to me, but I could be interpreting it wrong.

Phrases like, "Don't forget I love you" and "And knowing we are not alone in fear; Not alone in the dark" just seem pretty...promising an encouraging, I guess.

Then again, phrases like, "It's the season of scars and of wounds in the heart" and "Of feeling the full weight of our burdens" are kind of despondent. So, I guess I could understand that.
The rain'll be gone in the morning,

But I'll still be here in the morning

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Postby murlough23 » Wed May 06, 2009 6:35 pm

NeonFishnets wrote:^Really? The Atheist Christmas Carol seems pretty hopeful to me, but I could be interpreting it wrong.


I suppose it could be depressing if you're religious.

But seriously, though, I also see it as a hopeful song. A way for the rest of society, who doesn't necessarily claim a religious affiliation, to take stock of what's important to them at that time of year. (I would say for a lot of people, the holidays are really more about spending time with family, eating a lot of food, and making New Year's resolutions to not eat a lot of food, more so than they are about anything spiritual.)


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