News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, August 5, 2011

On the YouTubes: A Musical Tribute to Reston; a Semiotician's Dream Come True

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 Anne
When the queen married the oil man.
The king was upset but he still had some land.
Not 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:
Man was born with a silver bowl in his hand
Something called Carnegie Hall,
But he had additional plans
It 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."

In other words, it's no "Hey Soul Sister," but you could probably still dance to it, the end.


  1. There are no words...

  2. Ooh, ooh, can we turn it into a Rock Opera? Although it does sound like it says "lake elsa"

  3. Move over, Reston: The Opera. Reston: The Music Video is clearly the new pinnacle of artistic achievement.

  4. LOVE the hat on the kid at around 0:57. Lest there be any question who the lyrics are alluding to.

  5. This must be the G-rated version of the video. Where are the high school prostitution rings and Section 8 housing in leafy surroundings?

  6. You had me at "Kasey Kasem."

  7. Love this review and the song! Just randomly met the genius behind the vid as we both ate our burgers at a Five Guys. Does need another verse tho based on the prositution ring stuff....

  8. seriously? Sorry guys, Not that good......


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