LOVE, SONGS


It’s probably self-evident that people connect to songs on a personal basis (duh) but nowhere else are the stakes higher than choosing songs for a wedding. I don’t presume this is the case for every couple but for me, I know I’d probably agonize over what songs to choose for the processional, recessional, first dance, last dance, etc. 1

As such, I’m always curious to see what couples go with and very often, I learn something new along the way. For example, for DJ Phatrick’s wedding last summer, their processional was the “Suite for Ma Dukes” version of “Fall In Love” which was perfect on so many levels.

For the wedding I just DJed this past weekend, their processional was this:

The Decemberists: Red Right Ankle
From Her Majesty (Kill Rock Stars, 2003)

Love, love, love this pick. Wistful, with just a touch of melancholy; beautiful-sad but not quite as “let me weep into my hanky” sad as “In My Life.” And honestly, I’m a total sucker for folksy rock like this; that may not be obvious given what I typically write about but there’s something achingly affecting about a distinctive voice, crooning over a simple acoustic guitar, regardless of genre. To wit:

Neil Young: Harvest Moon
From Harvest Moon (Reprise, 1992)

This was the first dance song and again, another perfect call, especially with the subtle elements of steel guitar and the back-up singers adding such quiet depth to the song.

I also DJed a wedding up in the S.F. the weekend before and their first song: Bettye Swann’s “Make Me Yours.” Classic.

10/24 Update: I was listening to “Harvest Moon” and “Red Right Ankle” back to back and one thing that struck me is that while the two have much in common musically and even emotionally, they’re aimed at two different age demographics. “Red Right Ankle” screams “young love,” the kind of anthem that you’d expect being written by someone in their late ’20s, full of dreaminess (imagined “gypsy uncles” with spots in the Pyrenees for example), and a weighty kind of idealized romantic pathos that could only come from youth (talking about “all the boys that loved you.” No one over the age of 35 would 1) use “boys” and 2) more importantly, would really even care about the past lovers someone had).

In contrast, “Harvest Moon” is some old/grown-man shit in its wistfulness. This isn’t young love being expressed – it’s metaphorically autumnal in its maturity given the whole “Harvest Moon” angle. It’s not a song you play outside someone’s window, Dobler-style. It’s an ode to someone you’ve already been waking up next to for most your adult life.

  1. As I’ve probably noted in the past, my wedding managed to have no music whatsoever which may seem strange but really…we didn’t miss it at all. Still can’t explain why.

Comments

comment(s)

5 comments to LOVE, SONGS

  • Derrick

    Thanks for this article! I’m pouring over song choices at the moment, I’m getting married in March. So great to hear other fantastic songs- that Decemberists song was killer. At the moment Little Darling (I Need You) is front runner for the recessional, such a happy song.

  • RW

    Funny you should post on this topic. I am a professional “wedding singer” (full band) and this past Saturday we were requested to do Purple Rain for the groom’s dance with his mother. Yes, THAT Purple Rain. To keep things from getting weird(er), we only did the first verse and chorus and had the guests join in and wave their hands. It turned out to be a blast.

  • DJ Lippy

    The wife & I went with “B.A.B.Y.” by Carla Thomas for our first dance. Fun and smooth love-themed soul song that worked great for us. Picks up at the end for a big finish on the dance-floor.

  • douglas cook

    a local group did an acapella version of I’M SO PROUD for our first dance . . .

    yes, Harvest Moon is perfect. don’t think i’d have ever thought of it.

    too bad Cee-Lo hadn’t put out CRAZY yet.

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