The saddest Vienna song?

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dbeattie
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Postby dbeattie » Thu May 07, 2009 11:21 am

slinkytwf wrote: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.

Perhaps slinkytwf's reasons for being so saddened if/while listening to The Atheist Christmas Carol are entirely personal, and thus not something that the rest of us are going to make sense of? Seems like he/she has some personal memories that the words to this song are triggering. Doesn't make the song inherently sad for the rest of us (I agree, it's a hopeful, positive song in general),... but for he or she who experienced some very sad things in personal scenes which Vienna's words bring to mind, I could understand that.

For my personal vote... it's hard to decide between Passage and Pontchartrain. They're both incredibly sad--I guess the difference is, Passage spends the second half of the song trying to describe how people are moving on with their lives, while Pontchartrain, appropriate for the societal gravity of the tragedy, never does. (Individual people of course, will always move on. But a community disaster stands on its own, to be remembered and not forgotten, lest we forget its lessons.) So I would have to cast my vote for Pontchartrain.

--David

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Postby murlough23 » Thu May 07, 2009 8:06 pm

dbeattie wrote:Perhaps slinkytwf's reasons for being so saddened if/while listening to The Atheist Christmas Carol are entirely personal, and thus not something that the rest of us are going to make sense of?


Personal sad memories could potentially make any song sad. And there's nothing wrong with stating that you react that way to a song. I was just trying to make sense of that which wasn't explained.

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Postby slinkytwf » Fri May 08, 2009 8:59 am

dbeattie nailed it. :-) Was a deeply personal connection between the lyrics and some extremely painful events in my life. Impossible to explain without an essay.

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Postby murlough23 » Fri May 08, 2009 7:11 pm

slinkytwf wrote:dbeattie nailed it. :-) Was a deeply personal connection between the lyrics and some extremely painful events in my life. Impossible to explain without an essay.


No worries. But thanks for clearing that up; we were all a bit confused.

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Postby MonsieurRosseau » Sun May 17, 2009 8:31 pm

No one seems to have mentioned Mission Street yet.

I wouldn't be sure that it's the saddest, but it's certainly in the running. Loneliness is very sad.

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Postby murlough23 » Sun May 17, 2009 10:35 pm

MonsieurRosseau wrote:No one seems to have mentioned Mission Street yet.

I wouldn't be sure that it's the saddest, but it's certainly in the running. Loneliness is very sad.


That's another one of those glass half empty/glass half full things. It struck me as a song about making peace with living in a place that at first seemed lonely or intimidating. Finding the little beautiful things in an otherwise dreary situation.

Though actually living on Mission Street in San Francisco would be kind of sad... at least if I lived there, it'd be sad for me.

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Postby wolding » Sat Aug 01, 2009 11:12 pm

My vote is for Atheist Christmas Carol, too. Maybe it has to do with its position just after Passage, but that opening chord really hits me. Then the arrangement and chorus just send me into quiet contemplation.
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Postby tanthalas » Sun Aug 02, 2009 12:49 am

Weird, Atheist Christmas Carol is to me one of the more hopeful/happy songs.

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Postby Bobathin » Tue Aug 04, 2009 8:23 am

dbeattie wrote: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?

I must take the opportunity to respond to this, because I found dbeattie's interpretation quite fascinating.

What a crazy song this must be for people to be able to interpret it as both "sublimely happy" and incredibly sad. For me, this is a very sad song, however, I was not aware of the reverse-chronologicalness of it. (Wow. I think I love that word).

I was aware of the "love song in reverse" interpretation, which is how I personally see this song. (Although there are things about Recessional that I find very puzzling). I think of it like this: Two people share a perfect moment, although one person is hesitant (There's a reason not to want this). From the second verse, we find out that the narrator, though clearly comforted by her presence, is not actually sure if they are in love. (Maybe it means nothing). In the third verse, the narrator discovers that this person is not who he (?) thought she was. (Who are you? Taking coffee, no sugar?)

The lines that make me most skeptical of the reverse-chronological-order-theory are these:
Who are you, the stranger in the shell of a lover?
Dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?

Clearly, if Vienna is talking about the same person in all three verses, then some time must pass before she can say that the 'dark curtains have been drawn by the passage of time.' It is those two lines that, in my mind, validate my other thoughts on this song: At first, they were in love. Then, they weren't sure. They break up during the trumpet solo. (Although perhaps they were never "officially" a couple. The narrator seems very uncertain about this). In the third verse, they accidentally bump into each other unexpectedly, years later. The narrator no longer recognizes her. She has become a stranger.

Also the instrumentation, to me, is very sad. Everything about the music seems sad to me. Interestingly, it seems as though some of you only think the trumpet is sad. It is intriguing that a song with such rich imagery and emotion could really go either way in peoples' minds. I love songs like that. Any interpretation is valid, but for me, this is probably her saddest song.

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Postby shawn » Wed Aug 05, 2009 7:38 pm

I agree with Bill that The Atheist Christmas Carol is a song for contemplation. Whether one considers it a sad song or not may depend on just what one is contemplating; maybe that's why there's such a divergence of opinion on it here. I think I'd find it sad if I didn't have a love in my life; the chorus could be awfully haunting if that weren't the case.

Bobathin's interpretation of Recessional (with the verses taking place in forward chronological order) is close to my own. I've had a past relationship or two that seemed to flow the same way; maybe that's why I find the song to be deeply moving. But not VT's saddest, in my mind.

For now (it's changed in the past, and no doubt may change again), I find The Last Snowfall to be her saddest song. Having seen a couple down the hall from where we used to live going through their last winter together; inevitably thinking about how my wife and I would handle it were it to happen to us; knowing that it ultimately will happen, one way or another, whether we know of it in advance or not; being grateful for the time that we do have together - all of that summed up in three verses. Powerful stuff.

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Postby Vana » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:25 pm

It's not her song, it's a Damien Ryce, but I cry like a baby each time I hear her version of "Cannonball". On it's own it's an incredibly powerful song. But the way she does it . . .


And the hummed part of Recessional. If there was a few bars of music in my life that symbolise me, it would be those.

And "Nothing without you"

Most of her songs has some deep-seated melancholy elements

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Postby Vana » Fri Aug 14, 2009 4:34 pm

Goodness, and of course "Between". Incredibly sad.



Artist: Vienna Teng
Album: Waking Hour
Title: Between

we are not together here
though we lie entwined
to make room for the other presence
we both draw back in our minds
I have a prophecy
threatening to spill into words
this growing certainty
of over

there once was a time I was sure of the bond
when my hands and my tongue and my thoughts were enough
we are the same but our lives move along
and the third one between replaces what once was love

freedom is being alone
I fear liberation
but something more alive than silence
swallows conversation
no pleasing drama
in subtle averted eyes
the swelling fermata
as the chord dies

there's no denying we feel the third one
we do
I'm tired of hiding and so are you

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Postby aaparallel » Wed Aug 19, 2009 7:05 am

I find "Recessional," "Antebellum," and "Kansas" sad. Mostly it's the instrumentation. But the way Vienna sings the lyrics, and some of the lyrics themselves about the end of a relationship and such, gets me teary-eyed.


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