Parent Dances

Somewhere Over The Rainbow-IZ

I’ve always thought that “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” would make a perfect “Parent Dance,” but the original Judy Garland version is too much of a diva performance song, that would bring more attention to the singer, than to the groom and his mother or the bride and her father. I first heard this arrangement by Hawaiin singer Israel Kamakawiwo’ole in the closing credits of the movie “Finding Forrester” and fell in love with it. I heard it again in the Brad Pitt movie “Meet Joe Black.”

I always thought the lyrics to the song could easily be interpreted as a parent advising their son or daughter to always reach for the dream of living the most beautiful life they could envision, with the rainbow representing any possible obstacles that may get in the way. At a wedding, the message is even more appropriate than ever, because the bridal couple will be searching for that special place together.

The simplicity of the solo ukulele with a quasi-reggae back-beat accompanying Israel’s soft, “island-breezy” voice is the perfect version of this 1938 Harold Arlen’s great American classic.
Give a listen, and let me know what you think.

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


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.

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!




My Wish-The Rascal Flatts

Here’s yet another terrific suggestion for the groom’s dance with his mother, which is invariably the most problematic song to find in the whole reception.  The choices are usually pretty slim, but this one truly fits the bill.  [By the way, I’ve never really been a “Country Music” fan, so just assume that any “Country” song I suggest has come directly from a client.] The one is called “My Wish” by the Rascal Flatts, and the lyrics are in the same vein as  “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack, another “Country” song that you can find an earlier blog post about. The song is very simple, but the lyrics truly have a perfect message.

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
and each road leads you where you want to go
And if you’re faced with the choice and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walking ’til you find the window
If it’s cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.
But more than anything, more than anything…
My wish for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay smallYou never need to carry more than you can hold
And while you’re out there gettin’ where you’re gettin’ toI hope you know somebody loves you
And wants the same things tooYeah, this is my wish,

I think this one has to at least be a strong contender as one, or both, of the parent dances.
Let me know what you think.

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life

If “The Way You Look Tonight” is my favorite recommendation for the Father/Daughter dance, the great Stevie Wonder’s classic “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” is it’s perfect match for the Mother/Groom dance. Both songs have beautifully simple lyrics accompanied with a distinctly danceable beat.

This particular video may be the first time I’ve ever seen Stevie perform without sitting at the keyboard. The man is a true artist, and is definitively the finest singer/songwriter of this or any other generation. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life was the first song on Stevie’s historic 1972 album Talking Book, which also contains his equally remarkable Superstition.


Both songs went to #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100s Chart, which was the benchmark for record sales long before iTunes. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life also won Stevie his first Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

Watching the video, Stevie calls to “Greg” to begin the song on the keyboard. He’s talking to Greg Phillinganes, a brilliant singer/songwriter who became the most sought-after keyboardist as throughout the ’70s and ’80s.  Phillinganes would attain his greatest acclaim as the Musical Director for Michael Jackson.

The Way You Look Tonight

I have always considered Frank Sinatra’s version of The Way You Look Tonight” to be the perfect song for the traditional bride’s dance with her father. Dorothy Fields’ poignant lyrics and Jerome Kern’s timeless melody were originally sung by Fred Astaire in the movie “Swing Time” in 1936. The song has been “covered” by dozens of singers from Billie Holiday to Rod Stewart, but I’ve always felt that Nelson Riddle’s spectacular arrangement for Sinatra in 1964 to be the definitive version.

Here are Dorothy Fields’ beautiful lyrics:
Some day, when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold
I will feel a glow just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight
Yes you’re lovely, with your smile so warm and your cheeks so soft.
There is nothing for me but to love you, and the way you look tonight

With each word your tenderness grows, tearing my fear apart
And that laugh that wrinkles your nose, touches my foolish heart
Lovely, never ever change, keep that breathless charm
Won’t you please arrange it ’cause I love you?
Just the way you look tonight.


Nelson Riddle’s spectacular arrangement of Kern’s simple melody has just enough swing to avoid any hint at being too “mushy,” while Fields’ lyrics remain touchingly sweet, without ever sounding saccharine. Written 80 years ago, and recorded 52 years ago, this gem from The Great American Songbook remains remarkably fresh. “The Way You Look Tonight” has always been, and will undoubtedly always be, my number one request for the Father/Daughter dance at every wedding.

Let me know what you think.

I Hope You Dance-Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack’s 2000 hit song I Hope You Dance is one of the most requested songs for either the bride’s dance with her father, or the groom’s dance with his mother. It works perfectly for either one…or both.

It’s one of only a handful of songs whose lyrics are clearly giving a very specific piece of parental advice.  “….and when you the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance…”

That is a beautiful message for a parent to give to a child who is about to embark on a new chapter in their lives.  It’s basically a contemporary way of interpreting the poem Gather Ye Rosebuds. 

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
GOD forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

lee ann womack

Perhaps Ms. Womack is merely reinterpreting Woody Allen’s quote that “80 percent of life is showing up.” Either way, it’s a terrific choice for the bride’s dance with her father, or the groom with her mother…..or both.

Let me know what you think.

Ballerina Girl-Lionel Ritchie

A while back, I played a wedding of two of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet at the Pine Hollow Country Club on the North Shore of Long Island. It’s a beautiful location because the entryway from Northern Boulevard takes you straight through a beautiful golf course on both sides of the road. They suggested a song for the traditional Bride’s dance with her father that has been overlooked before, and since.

Ballerina Girl by Lionel Ritchie.
Ballerina Girl, you are so lovely
With you standing there
I’m so aware of how much I care for you
You are more than now you are for always
I can see in you my dreams come true don’t you ever go away
You make me feel like there’s nothing I can’t do
And when I hold you I only want to say I love you

Ballerina Girl the joy you bring me
Every day and night holding you tight, how I’ve waited for your love
Sometimes I’ve wondered if you’d ever come my way
Now that I’ve finally found you, this is where my heart will stay

It turned out to be a touchingly sentimental part of the wedding. The song speaks to, and shows on the video, a father’s love for his daughter. It’s a softly executed, delicately orchestrated little gem from Lionel Ritchie, and a great option for the Father/Daughter dance.

Lionel Ritchie

Over the years people have forgotten, or never knew, that throughout the decade of the 1980s, Lionel Ritchie was Michael Jackson’s fiercest competitor for the #1 spot on the Billboard Pop Charts. They combined forces to help Quincy Jones write and produce “We Are The World,” in 1985. An event that Quincy famously coined the phrase “check your ego at the door.”

Let me know what you think.