It’s the Perfect Song! Or Is It?
Weddings are sentimental events. Special songs are a wonderful way to convey love and commitment, parental love and support or to carry a theme through an event. Choosing songs to make a statement should be done with care to make sure you are expressing exactly what you mean to say. As a vocalist, I’m a lyrics person. As much as I love music, I love the power of a great lyric more. I’d like to help you avoid some song choice hazards by sharing with you a few true stories about some interesting song choices for weddings. Some actually got played (years ago before I began working with clients) and others where I was able to gently steer clients to choose another song once we talked about the meaning they wanted to convey.
It has a great title – but titles can be deceiving
Choosing a song because of the title can be dangerous if you don’t actually read the lyrics or listen to the song first. Imagine the bride and groom, who in the heyday of Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine chose the hit “Anything for You” as their first dance. The title sounds great! A wonderful sentiment for a newly married couple, that is, until you read the lyrics. “Anything for you, though you’re not here. Since you said we’re through, it seems like years.” I’m willing to bet that was not the message they meant to send about their relationship. Believe it or not, this actually got played. (I sang it, but I did question it at the time) I’m hoping they are still together. Whitney Houston’s song about infidelity, “Saving All My Love For You,” was another popular choice that was less than ideal for a bride and groom, unless maybe, that’s how they met?
The song has the perfect line – but beware of context
Hearing a reference to marriage in a song is enough to hook some people but it’s not always what you think. In the classic Motown song “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations, there is a line that says, “Soon we’ll be married and raise a family.” Sounds great, right? Perfect for a first dance song! Wrong. If you listen to the chorus, “But it was just my imagination running away with me.” And another line says, “But in reality, she doesn’t even know me” it becomes apparent that the song is about someone who is daydreaming at best and delusional at worst. While not exactly inappropriate, it just doesn’t represent the wonderful and very real relationship of the bride and groom.
Your dad (mom, in laws, etc.) loves the song – but it might not be appropriate
Sometimes brides will choose a favorite song of their father’s for the father/daughter dance. One bride chose “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack. Again, the title could make one think of a father seeing his beautiful new baby girl for the first time. Unfortunately, that’s not what the song is about. By today’s standards the lyrics are pretty tame but they do paint a rather explicit picture. (This was also before I began working with clients and I was not at that event, but I do know that the band mercifully omitted the third verse because, well, it would have been creepy.) I can only imagine the uncomfortable shifting of guests in their seats waiting for the song to be over – at least the guests who knew what the song was about.
You Can Throw Caution to the Wind – Sometimes
Actually, you do have the power to choose any song you want for pretty much any special dance without fear – just explain it to your guests with a story beforehand. When I hear an unusual song choice, I will ask if there is a story behind it. I think a very important part of my job is to help a client express themselves through those song choices as well as protect them from embarrassment if they are unaware of questionable lyrics. If you want your first dance to be the song you first slow danced to and it happens to be a break-up song, it’s OK – just have the band tell the story as you and your spouse come to the dance floor. This protects you as well as the band from the unwarranted judgment of, “I can’t believe they played that song!” (Believe me, people talk) Sharing the meaning with the guests also adds a nice moment to the reception and you can all reminisce together.
My husband and I first slow danced to Smokey Robinson’s (or Linda Ronstadt’s) “Ooh Baby, Baby.” We did not dance to that song at our wedding mainly because the words were not what we wanted to hear at that moment. “I did you wrong. My heart went out to play but in the game I lost you. What a price to pay” did not exactly represent the idea of lifelong commitment we were going for. (In case you were wondering, we chose “Here and Now” by Luther Vandross performed by “Phoenix.”)
Whatever your song choices, I hope you will choose “Phoenix.” I look forward to helping you find your perfect song and working with you to plan the best possible music for your event.