Friday, August 14, 2009

Vienna, CA

I'm fresh home from a concert by my favorite musical artist, Vienna Teng (check out her website for music and information - more available at her myspace), and as usual, she blew me out of the water. This is the music that I dream in, the music that accompanies my prayers, and often the music I listen to when I write. More characters and stories have been inspired by Vienna Teng's music than I can count (and that's not considering Hope on Fire, the song that kept me going during the tough early days of the Oakland Teaching Fellowship's Summer Training Institute).

Better yet, Vienna Teng writes science fiction! Consider the lyrics to No Gringo, a song on her latest album (lyrics courtesy of

Father says head down
We don't want them finding you
Mother says practice now
All the words you know

Oh Arizona's burning
They say the fence turned round
Now the razor wire keeps us out

Mother says with luck
We'll sleep under a roof tonight
Father says in the truck
We'll be crushed in tight

Oh Chicago don't forget me
As the miles between us grow
Keep the maple tree carved with the name of my love
The hills we would sled race down
Lake Michigan stay endless and painted in sky

Mother says years ago
The whole world was ours to rule
Father says let it go
Those days are gone for good

All the signs read no gringo
But somehow we'll find our way
Maybe waiting at dawn by the factory doors
Sunburnt and bent in the fields
Please don't turn us in
We'll be silent as the grave
As time

No gringo
No Gringo aqui
Words as levies against the flood
Hoy cerrado
There's too many to feed
Room for only our own kind, our own blood
No gringo, no gringo aqui
You have stayed in this land for too long
Tan amargo
But there's no time to grieve
You just pack up your things and move on

If you can't figure out how this song is science fiction, leave a comment and I or someone else will explain it. It's subtle and quite brilliant.

Finally, I like Vienna Teng's approach to creativity. A quote from her myspace page:

"These days I'm influenced by whoever intimidates me. I hear them, I'm astounded by them, I think daily about quitting music because I'll never be able to do it as well as they do. Then I try to steal from them without imitating. A tricky thing."

A beautiful sentiment, and one I could explore further. I won't right now, though, because I'm sleepy. I'll be certain to return later. In the meantime, however, I leave you with this: if you haven't checked out Vienna Teng already, you should.

That is all.

No comments: