Billy Joel’s Song ‘Vienna’ Lyrics Explained & The Story Behind The Lyrics

Even while “Vienna” isn’t among Billy Joel’s most well-known songs — it’s nothing near the stature of “Only the Good Die Young” or “The Stranger” — it’s nonetheless a fan favourite. One of Billy Joel’s most relevant songs, “Vienna,” is about slowing down and enjoying life since “you can’t be what you want to be before your time.” What are the hit song’s words, and what provided the inspiration for the Joel hit?

65th birthday celebration with Billy Joel playing the piano at Madison Square Garden

The lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Vienna”

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, hmm?
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 to do
And only so many hours in a day, ayy

[Chorus 1]
But you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old
You’re gonna
Kick off before you even get halfway through, ooh
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

[Verse 2]
Slow down, you’re doin’ fine
You can’t be everything you wanna be
Before your time
Although it’s so romantic
On the borderline tonight, tonight
Too bad but it’s the life you lead
You’re so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need
Though you can see when you’re wrong
You know you can’t always see when you’re right
You’re right

[Chorus 2]
You’ve got your passion
You’ve got your pride
But don’t you know
That only fools are satisfied?
Dream on
But don’t imagine they’ll all come true, ooh
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

[Instrumental break]

[Chorus 3]
Slow down, you crazy child
And take the phone off the hook
And disappear for a while
It’s all right, you can afford
To lose a day or two, ooh
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

[Chorus 1]
And you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want
Or you could just get old
You’re gonna
Kick off before you even get halfway through, ooh
Why don’t you realize
Vienna waits for you?

[Outro]
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

Billy Joel later realized he coped with his feelings surrounding his father through “Vienna”

Joel’s parents split while he was quite young, according to SongFacts. When Joel’s father eventually went back to Vienna, the city of his birth, he met someone new and started a second family there.

Joel admitted that he doesn’t always know what a song is about as he is writing the lyrics during a visit to the Howard Stern show. Later on, he realised that “Vienna” had actually helped him deal with his sentiments towards his dad.

Billy Joel once described the message in the lyrics

In a different interview, Joel discussed how many young people, frequently in their 20s, believe they must reach the peak of success—the summit of happiness and fulfillment—by their 30s.

Joel wondered why we were given so much time on this earth if that were the fact. According to SongFacts, Joel said, “No matter what you do, be good at it, and whenever you get there, you get there.”

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