first dances

Say Hey-Michael Franti

Here’s yet another example of a song, as well as performer that I had never heard of before it was requested by the bridal couple. What a great song! No deep hidden meaning…just a great upbeat dance beat and incredibly simple sing-along lyrics.

Check out the lyrics:
This one goes out to you and yours, worldwide…

I say, hey, I be gone today but I be back around the way
Seems like everywhere I go, the more I see, the less I know
But I know one thing that I love you, baby girl
I love you, I love you, I love you

I’ve been a lot of places all around the way
I’ve seen a lot of joy, and I’ve seen a lot of pain
But I don’t want to write a love song for the world
I just want to write a song about a boy and a girl

I say, hey, I be gone today but I be back around the way
Seems like everywhere I go, the more I see, the less I know
But I know one thing that I love you, baby girl
I love you, I love you, I love you.

michael franti

Used as a Recessional,  it sends your guests, relaxed and dancing their way into the Cocktail Hour to get that all important first drink. But used as a First Dance, it announces to your guests that you are ready, willing and delighted to set the stage for a truly great party.

As with so many of the songs we play, “Say Hey” by Michael Franti & Spearhead was a song request made by one of our bridal couples…allowing me to pass it on to you. Start dancing!

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Time After Time-Frank Sinatra


I’ve been obsessed lately on the subject of the perfect first dance. I wanted to make a case for songs from what’s known as The Great American Songbook, songs sung by great vocalists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. Songs that, to me, are beautiful in the simplicity of their lyrics and the ease of the vocal performances  Try to listen with fresh ears. I’ve always loved music from this era. My own first dance is “Our Love Is Here To Stay,” and I’ve been happily married for thirty years.

 

Time After Time is one of my all time favorites of the era. Written by Sammy Cahn and Jules Styne for Frank Sinatra this is a true classic.  My favorite lyric is astonishing in its poignant simplicity:

I only know what I know, the passing years will show.
You’ve kept my love so young, so new.
And time after time, you’ll hear me say that I’m,
so lucky to be loving you.

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By the way, you may notice the purity of Sinatra’s voice in these recordings from the 30s & 40s…..long before he sort of became a parody of himself in the 70s & 80s. The purity of his voice is what made him a legend.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

You’re The Best Thing-Gladys Knight

OK, guys, we’re going truly “old school,” way back to 1974. “Gladys Knight & The Pips” were always considered the “class” of the disco era. Try to ignore the bell-bottoms, and classic Motown moves of “The Pips,” and listen to the lyrics of this gem. Plus, seriously can you beat those classic Motown horns? Gladys Knight is, and will always be, one of the iconic female vocalists of the 20th century.

Truth be told, it’s one of my favorite songs ever recorded. Check out these heartfelt lyrics, sung by the amazing Glady;s Knight & The Pips.One thing’s for sure, you’re not going to hear this at your friend’s wedding. Hopefully we’re going into uncharted territory with this list. It’s definitely worth going back to the 70s to find this gem.

“I’ve had my share of life’s ups and downs, but fate’s been kind, the downs have been few
I guess you could say that I’ve been lucky
Well I guess you could say that it’s all because of you.

if anyone should ever write my life story, for whatever reason there might be
You’ll be there between each line of pain and glory,
‘Cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me

You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.

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Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Just The Way You Are-Bruno Mars

What I love about Bruno Mars“Just The Way You Are” is that the lyrics the melody and unique “groove” come together for a fabulous alternative choice for a great “First Dance.”

First of all, anyone with the confidence to write a song called “Just The Way You Are” after Billy Joel had virtually “owned” that title for almost 40 years. Legally, you can’t copyright a title. Actually Elton John wrote a song called “The Way You Look Tonight,” which doesn’t come close to the mastery of the Frank Sinatra classic with the same name.  

Anyway, Bruno Mars has come up with a perfect little song that is amazing for the couple that is willing to think “out of the box” in the sense that it’s not a traditional “First Dance” ballad. Musically, it’s remarkably simple. If you listen carefully to the keyboard part, he repeats the same five note phrase throughout the entire song.

But the lyrics and the warm feel of the song make it a terrific choice for a First Dance:

Oh, her eyes, her eyes make the stars look like they’re not shining
Her hair, her hair, falls perfectly without her trying
She’s so beautifuland I tell her everyday.
Yeah, I know, I know when I compliment her, she won’t believe me
And it’s so, it’s so sad to think that she doesn’t see what I see
But every time she ask me do I look okay?
I say…when I see your face, there’s not a thing that I would change
‘Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are
And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while
‘Cause girl, you’re amazing just the way you are

Her lips, her lips, I could kiss them all day if she’d let me
Her laugh her laugh, she hates but I think it’s so sexy
She’s so beautifuland I tell her everyday….

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Come on guys, that’s some serious commitment to the woman of your dreams.
Check it out, and let me know what you think.
-Doug

The Nearness Of You-Norah Jones

The magnificent Norah Jones recorded one of my favorite songs of all time. The lyrics are so beautiful and feel perfectly natural for any generation. It’s a song originally written by Hoagy Carmichael in 1940, and has been recorded well over a hundred times by everyone from Billy Holliday to James Taylor. This is a true class from The Great American Songbook.

I love the simplicity of Ms. Jones’ soft vocal and solo piano. Because of the clear and sensitive way she pronounces every syllable, you certainly don’t need the lyrics washing over the screen. Just close your eyes and enjoy Carmichael’s melody and Ned Washington’s poetic words.

It’s not the pale moon that excites me
That thrills and delights me,
Oh no. It’s just the nearness of you.
It isn’t your sweet conversation that brings this sensation
Oh no,
 It’s just the nearness of you

When you’re in my arms and I feel you so close to me
All my wildest dreams came true
I need no soft lights to enchant me
If you’ll only grant me the right to hold you ever so tight
And to feel in the night the nearness of you

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If you’re at work, or driving, please keep you eyes open….but you get the idea. I truly hope you love this as much as I do. Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Through The Fire-Chaka Khan


Through The Fire
Written and Performed by Chaka Khan

This has actually always been one of my very favorite songs. Plus Chaka is “R & B Royalty.” But if there ever was a perfect “First Dance,” this just might be it. Plus this particular YouTube video was recorded 20 years after Chaka originally made a hit out of it. It is actually from a live television special “David Foster & Friends. David Foster wrote and produced just about every significant ‘R & B’ song in the 1970s, including monster hits by Earth Wind & Fire and so many others.

Let the tape run and listen to Foster’s incredible arrangement consisting of the horns and background vocalists repeating the title while Chaka works her astonishing vocal magic. This is a treat.

Tell me these lyrics are not perfect for a wedding “First Dance.”
“When it’s this good, there’s no saying no. I want you so, I’m ready to go
Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall
For a chance to be with you, I’d gladly risk it all
Through the fire through whatever come what may
For a chance at loving you I’d take it all the way
Right down to the wire, even through the fire”

This 1980s “R & B power ballad” by the incomparable Chaka Khan straddles the divide between classics like Etta James’s “At Last” and contemporary ballads by Beyonce or Alicia Keys. The lyrics are timeless, beautiful and heart felt matched with extraordinary production and an incredibly dynamic performance by Chaka.

“Through The Fire” was a suggestion from one of my clients back in the ’90s when Best Kept Secret was establishing its reputation in the Livingson/Short Hills area of New Jersey. The tune works as wonderfully as a first dance today, as it did 20 years ago. If your looking for something beautiful, unique and different from your friend’s first dance, look no further. Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Better Together-Jack Johnson

Tonight’s suggestion comes from a wedding we played at The Yale Club 3-4 years ago. It’s called “Better Together” by Jack Johnson. What I love about this song is its simplicity. The lyrics come at you pretty quickly so I wanted to post a video that showed you the lyrics. But the basic concept of the song is really the basic concept of marriage. Basically, that life is a difficult journey goes on, but things are easier when you have your perfect mate to go with you.

Check out these lyrics:
“There’s no combination of words I could put on the back of a postcard,
no song that I could sing, but I can try for your heart
Our dreams, and they are made out of real things.
Like a shoebox of photographs with sepia-tone loving
Love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go? And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and sometimes life can be deceiving
I’ll tell you one thing, it’s always better when we’re together”

I love the quirkiness of the line “a shoebox of photographs with sepia-tone loving. It diverts it from any corniness. Also the lilting guitar riff in the opening, takes it away from your standard Van Morrison love song. It’s definitely worthy of a listening. Let me know what you think.
Enjoy,
-Doug

Amazed-Lonestar

This is from a post written by one of my favorite couples. And in revisiting the post, I’m reminded what a terrific First Dance it is, even though I’m not a huge fan of country music. But there are a few that are quite touching. This one makes the list as a great First Dance suggestion.

I’m really excited about this Sunday’s wedding. As in the past couple of weddings I’ve written about recently, this is going a wedding that is equally personal. Best Kept Secret played the wedding of Russell’s sister Pam, five years ago.

Their good friend is going to join the band to sing their first dance, which is “Amazed” by Lonestar.” And we’re going to be adding “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele, and “On The Floor” by Jennifer Lopez, just for fun. Have a great weekend. I’ll let you know about the party, on Monday.

Once again, I feel that extra measure of responsibility to make Russell’s party as good, if not better, than his sisters. I mean that as a complete to Pam. Have a great weekend everybody.
Doug

Out Loud-Dispatch

So many of the First Dances in this category are direct requests by the brides and grooms themselves, as it should be. “Out Loud” by Dispatch of those hidden gems, that’s actually be requested several times. It certainly doesn’t knock you out with lyrics about eternal love, there is a simplicity in the use of a solo guitar to allow the lyrics to shine through. Here are the words to the first verse.

Would you be the wind, blowing me home?
Would be a dream on the wings of a poem?
And if we are walking through a crowd, well you know I’d be proud
If you’d call my name out loud. 
Do you suppose that I would come running?
Do you supposed I’d come at all? I suppose I would.

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Notice how the lyrics don’t bowl you over with sentimentality. As a matter of fact the word “love” doesn’t even appear, but there is a subtle delicacy to the production that makes the lyrics and music fit perfectly. And most importantly, this is the third time this particular song means enough to a couple that they chose it to symbolize their love by using it as their First Dance.

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