ZOMG, someone roust Kasey Kasem from his cryogenic sleep chamber, as we've unearthed a song that's sure to rocket to the top of all the charts. Called "Reston, Virginia," this little ditty by an outfit called the Culture Wars Band seems on the surface like a happy tribute to our favorite earth-toned community, what with the opening images of bike trails and animated presents and gingerbread men falling in front of Lake Anne. But first impressions often deceive, and in the guise of a pop song, we have a complex, challenging work that will take years to "unpack," as semioticians like to say.
"Reston, Virginia, this is my gangster song for you," the uncharacteristically somber vocalist intones -- part shaman, part troubadour, all Cassandra as the lyrics abruptly shift to the menacing: "The gangsters are coming for you." All of the sudden, it's clear we're not dealing with a mere pop trifle, but a deeply felt and imagined Nobokovian fever dream that alludes to tragedy, struggle, and land use policies.
As we further deconstruct this sprawling, ambitious work, consider the following lyrics:
The roses were gone from Lake AnneNot since Don McLean's "American Pie," or perhaps the Archies' "Yummy Yummy Yummy," have lyrics had meaning upon meaning spool in on themselves. Clearly a coded reference to Gulf Oil's ouster of Dear Leader early in Reston's history, the following lyrics make the author's intent even more clear:
When the queen married the oil man.
The king was upset but he still had some land.
Man was born with a silver bowl in his handIt goes on from there, complete with lots of stock footage of gangsters and crappy midrise architecture and whatnot, until we get to the thrilling denouement, where the poet-cum-prophet expounds on the "mighty Dulles Access road" and in a fugue-like, near trance, prophesies that it's "not too late to become a world-class community," followed by an image of an atom bomb and a final parting cry, lambasting Reston for "charging me another toll/Bike paths going through your empty soul."
Something called Carnegie Hall,
But he had additional plans.
In other words, it's no "Hey Soul Sister," but you could probably still dance to it, the end.