first dances

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

Marry Me-Train

If there ever was a perfectly written First Dance for a wedding, this might be it. (My wife cried when she first heard it). The lyrics are gentle and tender, they’re almost poetic. They feel like handwritten wedding vows set to music. The lovely choice of a simple solo rolling acoustic guitar, only to be joined by a soft flute line in the background makes the song that much more personal and touching. The one lyric that makes it the perfect first dance has got to be: “You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you…and you’re beautiful”

Together can never be close enough for me, feel like I am close enough to you
You wear white and I’ll wear out the words I love you…and you’re beautiful
Now that the wait is over and love and has finally shown her my way
Marry me…

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“Marry Me,” if only for the title, should definitely be considered, when thinking about your first dance.
What do you think?
-Doug

Take The World-Johnnyswim

I’ve written many times about how some of the best songs in our repertoire have come directly from brides and grooms. The most recent example is a song requested by our newest client for their First Dance seven months from now. Somehow, I had never heard of either the song or the group before they emailed the YouTube link to me. The song is “Take The World,” and the group is Johnnyswim. The lyrics are straightforward and uncomplicated, yet poetically elegant. The accompaniment is equally sophisticated in its unobtrusive simplicity: arpeggiated acoustic guitar chords, a constantly moving piano line, a subtle bass line, and a lilting drum beat (played with brushes rather than sticks) give the song a constant feeling of forward motion. Unobtrusive strings and subtle horns fill out the (not so simple) orchestration.

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Making it even more structurally sound (and subtly perfect for a first dance) is that the melody is split evenly between the male and female vocalists. The first verse is sung by the female, the second by the male…and they harmonize together for the chorus. Here are some of the beautiful lyrics:

Sweethearts give sweet compliments
but our love goes without saying
Though you make it hard not to spill my heart
every time I see you swaying
Darling you and me we can take the world. 

Cause they can write stories they can sing songs
But they don’t make fairy tales sweeter than ours
They can climb mountains high into the sky
They can’t take the world oh…like we can take the world

It’s not utterly overplayed or predictable and I think that makes it even sweeter. I’d love to know what you think of it.
Doug

Betcha By Golly Wow-The Stylistics

“Betcha By Golly Wow” might be the strangest title for a song in the history of music. But for some strange reason, it works. The melody is so strong and the lyrics are so sweet and romantic that it’s easy to disregard the inanity of the title phrase.

There’s a spark of magic in your eyes. Candyland appears each time you smile.
Never thought that fairy tales came true. But they come true, when I’m near you.
You’re a genie i disguise, full of wonder and surprise, and…
Betcha by golly wow, You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growing strong, keep growing strong

If I could I’d catch a falling star to shine on you so I’d know where you are
Order rainbows in your favorite shade to show I love you, thinking of you
Write your name across the sky, anything you ask I’ll try, cause,..
Betcha by golly wow. You’re the one that I’ve been waiting for forever
And ever will my love for you keep growing strong, keep growing strong

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“Betcha By Golly Wow,” written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed, and recorded by The Stylistics in 1971, has stood the test of time.  I still think it sounds fresh, and would make a spectacular, unexpected choice for your First Dance. The very first line “There’s a spark of magic in your eyes.” says it all.

Give it a listen, and let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Brighter Than Sunshine-Aqualung

I first heard the song “Brighter Than Sunshine” in the 2005 movie “A Lot Like Love” starring Ashton Kutcher and Amanda Peet. It’s a fairly formulaic romantic comedy, but the song adds so much to the mood and feel to the movie, that the song lives once you forget about the movie. The lyrics to the song are beautiful, and perfect for a First Dance.

What a feeling in my soul
Love burns brighter than sunshine
Brighter than sunshine
Let the rain fall, I don’t care
I’m yours and suddenly you’re mine
Suddenly you’re mine
And it’s brighter than sunshine

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The song was written and performed by British singer/songwriter Matt Hales who recorded under the name “Aqualung.” As you’ll discover, many of my suggestions for processionals, recessionals and first dances are found on movie soundtracks.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Lucky-Jason Mraz

One thing about love songs sung as duets is that they sound terrific with a band with multiple singers. Having a strong lead male and strong lead female allows us to recreate the sound precisely how it sounds on the recording. The song “Lucky” performed by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat is an absolutely delightful duet. The tune is elegant with the lyrics romantic and sentimental without ever turning saccharine. The key lyric that makes this such a perfect First Dance has got to be the elegantly simple…“Lucky I’m in love with my best friend.”

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Do you hear me, I’m talking to you?
Across the water across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky, oh my, baby I’m trying
Boy, I hear you in my dreams
I feel your whisper across the sea
I keep you with me in my heart
You make it easier when life gets hard
Lucky I’m in love with my best friend
Lucky to have been where I have been
Lucky to be coming home again

I think this is a subtle, timeless tune that’ll stay fresh for decades. A perfect First Dance
Let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Ain’t Nobody-Chaka Khan

Chaka Khan is universally recognized as one of the few “once-in-a-lifetime” performers whose name is inextricably linked with a genre; in this case, it’s 1980s & 90s R ‘n B funk. From the first note played on the clavinet, the infectious, timeless “Ain’t Nobody” makes you move with its pure and instantly recognizable groove. The familiarity factor, paired with a killer funky drum beat, makes it the perfect song to use to introduce the bridal party at your wedding.

What I love about incorporating a song like “Ain’t Nobody” into your wedding playlist is that it’s so upbeat and musically delicious, it totally ignites and enhances any moment of the party, but especially maximizes the excitement of introducing and welcoming the bride and groom and bridal party into the reception.

 

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Introductory music needs to be able to change volume quickly to accommodate how quickly or slowly a couple will walk into the room. The most interesting part of “Ain’t Nobody” (aside from the Stevie Wonder-esque clarinet groove) is the Chorus, which everyone can sing along with:

Oh – oh – oh – oh
Ain’t nobody.
Loves me better
Makes me happy.
Makes me feel this way
Ain’t nobody.
Loves me better than you

The most important part of selecting a song for the introduction is a) to make the guests in the room relaxed and totally engaged, b) to give the bridal party music that is just “knockout fun” to enter the room “already dancing” and c) use music whose volume can be raised and lowered without ever losing the beat.

All three of those criteria are met with this iconic 1983 hit. Once again, as with all dance songs, an introductory song should be instantly recognizable from the first note.  “Ain’t Nobody” is one of the handful of quintessential songs that is so funky and festive, it’s a fantastic pick for bringing your bridal party into your reception .

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

When You Need Me-Bruce Springsteen

“When You Need Me” by Bruce Springsteen is a terrific choice for your first dance. The song is quite simple, and elegantly short. Most songs just fade out, but this one is simple and has a definitive beginning, middle, solo and a short ending verse.

When you need me call my name
‘Cause without you my life just wouldn’t be the same
If you want me come sunny skies or rain
When you need me just call my name

If you miss me, I’ll be there
To brush the sunlight from your hair
I’ll be there to guide you when trouble walks beside you

If you need me I’ll be there
And when this dirty world has been cold to you
I got two strong arms waitin’ to hold you
And when those mean days come along
We’ll stand together and we’ll take ’em on
So if you need me just call my name

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Poignant, elegant and straight-talking defines the man known simply as “The Boss.”
Let me know what you all think.
-Doug

More Today Than Yesterday

“I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” by The Spiral Staircase may be the greatest “one-hit wonder” ever written.  The opening horns are instantly recognizable and the simple lyric “I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow,” is about as simple and perfect a lyric as you’ll ever find for a First Dance. Plus, it’s a lot more fun and creative choice than yet another Van Morrison ballad.

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I don’t remember what day it wasI didn’t notice what time it was
All I know is that I fell in love with you
And if all my dreams come trueI’ll be spending time with you
Every day’s a new day in love with you
With each day comes a new way of loving you
Every time I kiss your lips my mind starts to wonder
And if all my dreams come trueI’ll be spending time with you

Oh I love you more today than yesterdaybut not as much as tomorrow
Oh I love you more today than yesterdaybut darling not as much as tomorrow

Tomorrow makes each springtime just a day away
Cupid we don’t need you now, be on your way
I thank the lord for love like ours that grows ever stronger
And I always will be trueI know you feel the same way too

Let me know what you think.
-Doug