I first heard Billy Joel’s 1977 hit Vienna with my dad. Immediately, the opening notes of the piano intrigued me. I listened, intently. I have always been the girl with the plan: good grades and competitive rowing, good college and a spot on the rowing team, and on to law school. I have spent a great deal of time thinking of my future. His opening verse struck a chord. My ambition led me to this point in my life, a strong, smart, and confident girl, so how did Joel somehow know that I was still afraid? My worry about working too hard and burning out? He captured that too. His refrain, “Vienna waits for you”, took me much longer to parse. One of my biggest worries is not being able to achieve all of my dreams, which he notes: “you can get what you want, or you can just get old.” So, what does Vienna represent? Something inevitable, it is waiting for me. The only inevitability that I could think of was my future. This, I believe, is what Joel is hoping to convey. The line, “you’re so ahead of yourself that you forgot what you need,” paired with “disappear… you can afford to lose a day or two” is an ode to my crippling ambition. I am living for the future, Joel illustrates, living for Vienna. Every decision I make has the future in mind, to my detriment, according to Joel. While he cautions me against becoming contented with a mediocre existence, he instructs me to not allow my plans for the future to cloud my present life. Being ahead of myself only means losing the life I am living. Take advantage of the present, because the future, Vienna, is waiting for me.