Pamoja: Ooh Baby
From 7″ (Keiper, 1975)

A while back, I was thinking of creating a set of themed posts like the summer songs ones, all about wedding songs (and by that, I don’t mean “Celebration,” herbs). Never got around to it but a recent email brought back that idea:

    “I am getting married in January and I am trying to find a good song for our first dance. I have found that most of the songs I like, especially slow songs, are about heartbreak or pain. My fiance loves soul music and loves most of the music I play her downloaded from Soulsides. Do you have any suggestions?”

Two immediate thoughts: 1) It really is true that many of the best love songs are not about love but rather, the absence of love. A friend of mine suggested Stevie Wonder’s “Lately” (he actually meant “Overjoyed”) and I responded, “dude, that’s f—ed up since, if you listen to “Lately,” it’s really not the kind of song you want to kick start a marriage off with. 2) I was very flattered to get this email but I also thought: “damn, it’s your first song. Shouldn’t it be a song that’s personally meaningful vs. a random suggestion? I’m just saying.

This all said, it is an intriguing question. What do you pick for your first song? Something sappy and sentimental? Something hopeful and uplifting? Something common? Obscure?[1] When my friend Justin got married to Beverly last year, they actually put out a wedding CD which was frickin’ awesome but keep in mind that Justin’s a record dealer and a sweet soul fanatic so it was quite apropos.

That’s where I first heard this Pamoja song which I think makes a GREAT wedding song (I don’t know if it’s “first dance” material but definitely good to have in rotation). It’s sweet soul yet funky in a way that I wish more songs could balance and most of all, it’s just really “feel good.” It’s also rather obscure, easily a $100 45 that thankfully, has been reissued by the folks at Lotus Land.

In any case, I pondered the question and it’s hard to say…there’s just so many songs you could go with. For example, as cliche as it may be, there’s no humanly way you could go wrong with Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” Or Stevie Wonder (as long as it’s not “Lately”). Or Ella Fitzgerald, if you want to get jazzy about it (in fact, had I picked a wedding song, it might have been Ella’s version of “I Could Write a Book” [2]).

BUT, I throw it to you all: what’s the BEST wedding song (either your own, or at someone else’s wedding) that you’ve heard (preferably in a soul vein)? Help our man.

[1] I realize that most people don’t necessarily ponder this kind of stuff except I do. However, ironically, at my own wedding, we had zero music. My guests are still kind of flabbergasted at that but seriously, it never occurred to me or my wife that we should have music. Keep in mind, our wedding was a potluck at a friend’s place. And it was the greatest thing ever.

[2] Actually, I probably would have gone with John Coltrane and Duke Ellington’s version of “In a Sentimental Mood”. No way that can go wrong.