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The story behind the Skiing In Vienna Lyrics

Back when I was a kid, first learning to play guitar, I had a couple of friends – Paul and Dean. And no, I’m not making that up because it accidentally sounds like the name of a famous butter eating southern chef, that was their real names. I don’t know how to find them today to ask permission use their full names in this story so I’ll just use first names.

Paul, Dean and I used to steal gum and life savers from the Kings department store and sell them at school. I’m talking Freshman here. This is probably 1974? 75? Something like that. Once we got caught and I actually talked my way out of it by threatening to sue if the store security searched me and found nothing. They sent us on our way and told us never to return. Kings department store later disappeared and was replaced by Bradlees, which also disappeared. For anyone who thinks it’s not possible for Walmart or Target to go under, think again. Those were big chains.

So one day Paul and I were hanging out in my basement. Paul got the idea that we would all run away and become bank robbers once one of us got our license. The idea was that we would have a van, and the three of us would go to small towns and set off an explosion at one end of town and while all the cops were at that scene, we’d waltz into the bank at the other side of town and rob it. As a side note, imagine my surprise when many years later this exact tactic was used on one of my favorite TV shows, Justified (FX) in one of the first episodes of season 1. That was the plan: sneak into town, blow something up at one end of town, rob a bank at the other end of town, and just drive right on out without any police interference. We went through the whole thing, talking about how the van would have a machine gun mounted at the back so we could throw the doors open and shoot the cops when they chased us. We talked about how we’d live in a cabin in the woods and when the heat got too close we’d take up the floorboards where we hid our money and take off. I’m pretty sure the idea of Skiing in Vienna was born in this time, and for some reason I am remembering that we might have been sketching out the song also, but I can’t remember that far back. All I know is that Paul had a hand in the birth of the song and I wrote it – fleshed it out – later. I brought it to my band Cadence and we together tweaked the simple droning grind into a pretty cool song, which was incidentally pretty famous for a few years at Naugatuck High School.

You can read more about the birth of the song here:

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