Me and my baby on a February holiday ’cause we got the news/500 miles but we’re gonna make it all the way/We got nothing to lose/Been ten years waiting, but it’s better late than never we’ve been told before/We can’t wait one minute more/Oh, me and my baby driving down, to a hilly seaside town in the rainfall/Oh, me and my baby stand in line, you never seen a sight so fine as the love that’s gonna shine at city hall.
Where: The Ark, Ann Arbor
When: 8 p.m. Sept. 13 and 14
In an article about singer/songwriter Vienna Teng’s song “City Hall” off her third album, a North Carolina newspaper misconstrued its message.
The newspaper said: “The folksy piano-pop tune follows a couple 10 years into their relationship on their way to get married at city hall. It’s joyful and touching. … It’s refreshing to hear someone sing about the simplicity and validity of a quickie wedding.”
Um, not quite.
Teng, 27, is referring to a gay wedding. That’s right, a homo homage. Two men. Two women.
“They completely missed the point,” laughs Teng, who lives in San Francisco.
The reporter continued, “What’s more she ends the song addressing marriage’s possible end without taking away from that special day: ‘If they take it away again someday/This beautiful thing won’t change.'”
“They’re like it’s such a sweet song about this couple who’s getting married and it’s so great that someone decided to write a song about a man and a woman getting married,” Teng says. “And I thought, ‘It’s not about a man and a woman getting married.'”
Some of Teng’s friends who married in front of city hall in San Francisco a couple of years ago inspired the folksy song from “Dreaming Through The Noise.”
Teng says: “I have conversations with members of my family and people who are a little more conservative who (say) this is a bad political move, this is a bad time, we’re not ready. … You can talk about all of that but at the end of the day people are in love and they want to be together. For me that’s such an amazing thing to find with anybody that it seems … if you wanna be together, then you should be able to have it recognized.”
Since Teng quit her software engineering job at Cisco Systems in 2002 to sign with her former label Virt (her newest release is on Zoe, an imprint of Rounder), she hasn’t been able to use her skills as an engineer. Except when she created her MySpace page.
“MySpace wasn’t intimidating at all. But in terms of songwriting I can’t really think of how it applies,” she laughs.
While most of Teng’s lush music tends to fall between the likes of Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones, “City Hall” explores her Dolly Parton side. Teng says Parton embodies the joy of living and performing.
“Since country music seems to take a very conservation turn especially lately, I thought it’d be kind of fun to try and write a country song about that (gay marriage).”
Although she’s a fan of Eminem’s beats and flow, he didn’t help mold “Dreaming.”
“I don’t think his influence has really come out yet,” she laughs. “He’s sort of opened the door to rap and hip-hop for me. Because before that I really couldn’t wrap my head around it, (but) because he’s a white guy from Michigan I can actually understand him.”
There’s always a possibility it might show up on “Dreaming’s” follow-up, even though she thinks she’d make an awful rapper.
“You never know,” she says.