wedding songs

Canon in D-Johann Pachelbel

In any discussion of music for a wedding processional, we’d have to start here. Being a “Classical Musician” I have long been aware of the composer Johann Pachelbel and his most famous piece, “Canon in D.” However his name has become synonymous with wedding ceremonies. What makes it so perfect is the slow, regal pace and the majestic simplicity of the principle thematic line. It doesn’t hurt that it’s been used in several movies including the heartbreaking Robert Redford directed “Ordinary People.” Since then, the piece has become as famous as most ‘Pop’ tunes.Then it was used in several high profile TV commercial including  “G.E. Lightbulbs” and Jaguar Cars .

Although the names sound similar, please don’t mistake Pachelbel with Taco-Bell. Johann Pachelbel was a German composer during the Baroque Period, and lived from 1653-1706. Although it’s been used countless times, it should never be dismissed for overexposure. One reason this “canon” works so well as a Processional is that it is really a simple “round” allowing the piece can go on as long or as short as the recession lasts.

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This is the official tried and true classic. You can be comfortable using The Pachelbel in D without fearing of using the same tune as everyone else. It has become the “Go-To” Processional, replacing Wagner’s “Wedding March.”
Try it out and let me know what you think.
-Doug

What Do You Mean-Justin Bieber

I suppose that it’s time to acknowledge the existence of Justin Bieber as a legitimately solid force in contemporary music. The cover of the March 2016 issue of GQ pronounces “LET US NOW FORGIVE JUSTIN BIEBER.” His song “Sorry” is the first of twenty-five listed on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine cover story titled “25 SONGS THAT TELL US WHERE MUSIC IS GOING.” The kid is getting harder and harder to ignore. After being discovered singing covers on YouTube, he started a bidding war between Usher and Justin Timberlake over signing this once unmoored but ever-blonde, sweet-voiced (with the face to match) teenager to a label. He really does have a terrific voice, despite spending more time being the lead story on TMZ, intent on fostering his partying, wannabe gangsta’, tattooed bad-boy image than he does in being thought of as a serious artist. But I’m here to praise “The Biebs”… not to bury him.

So… “What Do You Mean?” is a really great, thoroughly pure pop song. So is “Sorry.”  And so is “Where Are U Now”the first three releases off only his third studio album.. It’s no longer an embarrassment to say you enjoy Justin Bieber’s music. Things could be a lot worse. He hasn’t shaven his head like Brittany Spears, or become a complete career-destroying cautionary tale, like Lindsay Lohan. 

If being annoying is the worst thing you can say about him, I’ll give him a pass. The kid from Stratford, Ontario has a great look (he’s actually pretty in that compelling androgynous way) and is acknowledged as a legitimate global sensation. Born in 1994,he won the AMA for Artist of the Year at the age of 16, and did it again two years later, at 18. In 2016, he just won his first Grammy, for Best Dance Recording – “Where Are U Now.”

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While I can’t say I’m a total, true “Belieber” quite yet, I say it’s time to give the kid a chance. I must admit, the first time I really paid attention to him, and genuinely started to like him, was on his two “Carpool Karaoke” appearances with James Corden (who has an uncanny ability to make any performer seem like his best friend.)

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
-Doug

Father & Daughter-Paul Simon

The title alone is an invitation to consider Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter” as the music for the traditional bride’s dance with her father. I tend to seek out many songs that have a bit of a soft rhythmic beat for the Parent Dances. The beat adds just the right touch of sweetness and light to the sentimentality of the moment. “Father and Daughter”, as you can tell by the video, was written for the animated family movie “The Wild Thornberrys”  but works wonderfully well for grown-up brides and their grown-up fathers. The lyrics, along with Paul Simon’s gentle voice, are tenderly perfect, as well:

If you leap awake in the mirror of a bad dream
And for a fraction of a second you can’t remember where you are
Just open your window and follow your memory upstream
To the meadow in the mountain where we counted every falling star
I believe a light that shines on you will shine on you forever
And though I can’t guarantee there’s nothing scary hiding under your bed
I’m gonna stand guard like a postcard of a Golden Retriever
And never leave ’til I leave you with a sweet dream in your head

I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign, so you’ll always know

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Those last two lines of Father and Daughter comprise the perfect message a father would want to give to his daughter:
“As long as one and one is two, there could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you.”  It’s a musical choice that enhances an already lovely moment of a wedding.

Give it a listen and then, share your thoughts with me.
Doug

Forever Young-Rod Stewart

As I’ve written before, finding really appropriate songs for parent dances is one of the most problematic musical choices. Fortunately, there are lots of great options. Rod Stewart’s version of the Bob Dylan song Forever Young is one of my favorites. The lyrics are absolutely beautiful. A parent giving loving advice to their child, and letting them know that even when the child grows older, he/she will always be there to love and protect them. Sounds pretty good to me.

May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam.
And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home.
And my you grow to be proud, dignified and true.
And do unto others as you’d have done to you.
Be courageous and be brave. And in my heart you’ll always stay forever young.

May good fortune be with you, may your guiding light be strong,
Build a stairway to heaven with a prince or a vagabond.
And may you never love in vain. And in my heart you will remain forever young. 

And when you finally fly away, I’ll be hoping that I served you well.
For all the wisdom of a lifetime, no one can ever tell.
But whatever road you choose, I’m right behind you win or lose,

Rod Stewart

Looking over the lyrics again, I think this just might be the perfect parent dance.
Let me know what you think!
-Doug

 

 

 

100% Pure Love-Crystal Waters

Crystal Waters’ 1994 100% Pure Love is a tried-and-true certified dance hit.
The song establishes its strong dance beat from the very first note…using the unique combination of a lone cowbell and syncopated synthesizer patch. Those initial four bars are then joined by the kick drum for the second four bars…ending with a “stop-time hit” right before the first lyrics come in.
This song, like so many of the others on this blog, is here because of the simplicity of the oft-repeated chorus. I’ve always said that  guests will dance to songs they recognize and more importantly, sing along to. Without knowing a single lyric of the verses, everyone can jump in on…“From the back to the middle and round again…”
My personal favorite part of the song is the “stop-time” a cappella vocal section right when you think the song is becoming too repetitive. Here are the lyrics to the first verse and the chorus, followed by the “stop-time” section. Enjoy!

It’s 12 past midnight, don’t close your eyes
Your soul’s half alive, and I’ll be by your side
I’ve come to take you there, show you how to care
Just be aware, that you’ll have to share
I want your love, I want it tonight
I’m taking your heart, so don’t you fight
I’ll be your answer, I’ll be your wish.
I’ll be your fantasy, your favorite dish.
CHORUS
From the back to the middle and around again
I’m gonna be there til the end, 100% pure love (2xs).

[STOP TIME – After the 2nd VERSE & CHORUS]
You’ll never have to run away
You’ll always have a friend to play
You’ll never go out on your own
In me you will find a home, home

Crystal Waters

Fun Fact #1: Crystal Waters‘ great aunt was the amazing early 20th century African American vocalist, Ethel Waters, who was breaking new racial ground along with other iconic singers Bessie Smith, Lena Horne and Josephine Baker.
Fun Fact #2
: Listen carefully to the bass. It contains a grand total of four ascending notes from the beginning to the end. #Simplicity.
Let me know what you think.
-Doug

You Make My Dreams Come True

“You Make My Dreams Come True” is pretty much the 1980s Philadelphia-based band Hall & Oates’s most recognizable hit. I couldn’t resist putting the scene from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie “500 Days Of Summer” on this post, because they use “You Make My Dreams Come True” to represent the lead character’s ultimate “feel good” song.

I’ve always loved the funky piano intro that sounds almost off-beat until the down-beat lands right as the vocals come in. Actually, it’s precisely that piano introduction that makes the song feel so familiar. It’s such a great 80s-90s dance tune. Trust me, the dance floor will be packed by the time the first verse begins.
When the upbeat lyrics start, that first verse has that same kind of “jangly” feel, with the syllables of those lyrics not really arriving precisely when and where you would expect them. It was unique in 1980, and is just as fresh today…to which the hit 2009 movie will attest.

What I want, you’ve got, and it might be hard to handle
But like the flame that burns the candle
The candle feeds the flame, yeah yeah
What I’ve got’s full stock of thoughts and dreams that scatter
You pull them all together, and how, I can’t explain,
Oh yeah, well well you. You make my dreams come true
Well well you, oh yeah. You make my dreams come true

Their style became known as “blue-eyed soul” because their songs were so strongly influenced by more traditional “soul” music. Some of their other most popular songs include “Sara Smile,” “Man Eater,” and “Rich Girl.”  Hall lives up in the Hudson Valley, two hours north of NYC, and I’m not sure where Oates resides, but their hybrid rock-soul imprint seems to stay with me (at least) forever.

Hall & Oates

Daryl Hall’s the one on the left, John Oates is on the right. Their success has been celebrated by being inducted in to the “Songwriters Hall of Fame” in 2003, and the “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” in 2014.
Check it out and let me know what you think.
-Doug 

 

Everything-Mary J Blige

Aside from Mary J Blige‘s spectacular voice, I love how she pays homage to one of my favorite 70s classics, “You Are Everything” by The Spinners. The music on the choruses is lifted directly for The Spinners’ “You Are Everything.
The simple phrase “You are everything, and everything is you” appears in both versions. Those seven words say everything that needs to be said in a first dance. I’ll include the original 1975 version on the bottom of this post, so you can see how Mary J made it her own.

You take me away from the pain, and you bring me paradise
And when there were cloudy days you brought sunshine in my life
It never occurred to me the first time I saw your face
I would fall so deep in love that your love can’t be replaced

You are my everything
Love so good, only you can bring
You are my everything
You are everything, and everything is you
What makes this arrangement so special to me are the ever-present background singers, allowing Mary J to “vocalize.”

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Here’s the original version by The Spinners:

I’d love to hear your thoughts.
-Doug

Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher

Quite simply, this is a classic. The bass line is the thing that grabs you first, which is fairly unique. Usually it’s a guitar groove, or a distinctive piano line, that first catches your attention. I have put this great Jackie Wilson song in four blog categories.
1. 60s & 70s: Released in 1967, it feels like classic Motown, even though it was recorded on Chess Records. The beat, starting with that forceful bass line, is completely infectious….making it a great dance tune.
2. Introduction Music: What makes this such a good song to introduce the bridal party into the reception is that same fun beat, as well as the fact that the music is very repetitive. That makes it easy to lower (when announcing the next couple) then crank back up again.
3. Recessionals: I always feel that Recessionals should be fun, without going too far off the grid. But a song whose opening lyric is “Your love keeps lifting me higher, than I’ve ever been lifted before” is a no-brainer.
4. First Dance: The lyrics and the song’s beat are so uplifting that this is a perfect first dance for brides and grooms who are willing to have a little fun with their special “first” song as a married couple.

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What do you think?
-Doug

No Diggity-Blackstreet

“No Diggity” by R & B group Backstreet, featuring Dr. Dre, is one of those songs that instantly gets people moving on the dance floor. The most distinct element of the song is the very slow, deliberate tempo, marked by an instantly recognizable, repetitive 6-note, grinding low-register bass hook. The song was released in 1996, written and produced by Teddy Riley and immediately went to #1 on the Billboard Charts, selling 1.6 million copies. Among it’s many honors, “No Diggity” (thankfully) replaced “The Macarena” as the #1 song in America (after a frighteningly long 14 week run.)

I must admit that I always thought the lyrics of the chorus were “gotta back it up” instead of “got to bag it up.” But as with so many dance tunes, the lyrics are far less important than the groove. The interesting thing is that our band used to play this song to the delight of wedding parties as soon as the song came out twenty years ago. And now, twenty years later, there’s a terrific demand for songs from that era of hard-driving dance music. When we play it now, it sounds fresher than ever, but this time everyone is completely familiar with it, and can at least sing along with the chorus. Enjoy!

Blackstreet
Baby, you’re a perfect ten, I wanna get in. Can I get down, so I can win
[Chorus] I like the way you work it. No diggity, I got to bag it up, bag it up 

Your guests will love spending a few minutes on the dance floor with a treasured old friend. No doubt!
Tell me what you think.
-Doug