weddings

Cinema Paradiso-Ennio Morricone

“Cinema Paradiso” is my favorite movie. It’s also the first time I was introduced to magnificent music of Italian composer Ennio Morricone. The score is so poignant that it almost always brings tears to my eyes. The movie itself was the first foreign movie that I had ever seen. (I should’ve said the first foreign movie I allowed my wife to drag me to.) Both the movie and the score have incredible resonance to me, because we were convinced that the little boy who stars as youthful protagonist “Toto” looked exactly like our son, Frank. Suffice it to say, we ran out of the theatre to go home and hug our son after this seeing this  beautiful gem of a movie. The entire soundtrack is gorgeous, but this theme just tears at your heart strings. But, like all of the very best Hollywood soundtracks, it never strives to overtake the emotion it’s meant to accompany. This makes a subtle and spectacular wedding processional. It’s also one of the few pieces of music that we play for processions  that people invariably come up to us and ask about the music.

Morricone’s masterpiece is always my go-to response when clients ask for suggestions for processional music. And if you haven’t seen the movie…rent, stream or buy it…immediatelly. It’s a must see. But make sure you get the original Italian edition (not the director’s cut…which basically makes the movie longer, not better.

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So, your assignment is to watch the original Italian version of “Cinema Paradiso,” then give another listen to the score. I think you’ll agree that this “Love Theme” makes a spectacular, and unique choice for either the Full Processional or the Bridal Processional. Putting this together with Rachel Portman’s Love Theme from “Cider House Rules” is a beautiful combination.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Air On The G String-J.S. Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach’s 1722 masterwork, most often referred to as “Air On The G String,” is a spectacular choice for your wedding processional. The full title is actually “Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major (Second Movement.) BWV 1068.”

Paired with Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” “Air On The G String” flows seamlessly  from the Full Procession to the separate Bridal Procession. Both works, written three hundred years ago have uniquely recognizable melodic themes, making them accessible to even the most casual “Classical Music” fan. As opposed to instrumental arrangements of contemporary tunes, the one-two punch of Bach and Pachelbel serve as a timeless accompaniment to both the simplest and most elegant of wedding processionals.

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Let me know what you think.
-Doug

Rock With You-Michael Jackson

Virtually every song Michael Jackson ever sang became an instant hit, especially the dance tunes. His voice is so recognizable, that guest hearing any one of dozens of his songs, will instantly be able to sing along with the band.

The combination of Michael’s voice and Quincy Jones’ brilliant arranging and producing was a magical pairing. The two made three iconic recordings together, including Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad. 

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Lyrics are rarely important in “dance” songs, and Rock With You is no exception.

Girl, close your eyes, let that rhythm get into you
Don’t try to fight it, there ain’t nothing that you can do
Relax your mind, lay back and groove with mine
You gotta feel that heat, and we can ride the boogie
Share that beat of love.

The lyrics are pleasant, but I hardly poetic. “MJ” and “Q” shared such a unique musical passion that Michael could’ve sung the phonebook and made it sound amazing.

Let me know what 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

On Golden Pond-Dave Grusin

Aside from being one of my favorite jazz pianists, Dave Grusin has composed some of the most lush and evocatively romantic movie scores ever produced. This opening theme from the 1981 movie “On Golden Pond” is a perfect example of Grusin’s writing. The subtly magnificent score serves as the emotional touchstone for the movie which won Academy Awards for its stars Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, and was nominated for eight more, including one for Grusin’s soundtrack.

The most unique element of his scores is his trademark ability to juxtapose classically orchestrated themes with ones that exist solely on the strength of his jazz-infused piano.

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One of Hollywood’s most prolific film composers from the late 1970s to the early 90s, Grusin composed dozens of soundtracks for movie classics including “The Firm,” “Heaven Can Wait,” “And Justice For All,” “The Goodbye Girl,” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys.”

His most recognizable work is undoubtedly the song “It Might Be You” from Sydney Pollack’s 1982 comic masterpiece, “Tootsie.” His brilliance has long been appreciated by among movie aficionados. His soundtracks have been nominated for Academy Awards eight times. He finally won in 1988 for Robert Redford’s otherwise forgettable “The Milagro Beanfield War.”

Listen carefully, and think about using this lyrical melody as part of the perfect soundtrack for your own cinematically beautiful wedding ceremony.

Let me know what you think.
-Doug

 

Don’t Stop Believin’-Journey

 

I have long been convinced that the TV show “Glee” made the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” the most iconic rock song of all time. The original song was recorded by the rock group Journey in 1981, and was a hit, reaching #9 on the Billboard Charts. But it wasn’t until 2009, when the cast of “Glee” sang it in the pilot episode that it was introduced to a whole new generation.

“Glee” was such a global phenomenon (despite having entire orchestras magically appear to accompany their supposed a cappella arrangements) that the original Journey single was re-released in 2009 taking full advantage of the show’s rabid cult following.

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Steve Perry has always had one of the best, and certainly one of the highest, voice in the history of rock. Even the late, great Michael Jackson jumped into his falsetto when singing in Perry’s register, which is why “cover bands” (like mine) have always had to have the female vocalist sing his songs.

“Don’t Stop Believin'” is so universally recognizable that it was playing in the background during the  very last scene of the finale of “The Sopranos.”  I guarantee Journey never thought they were writing a dance song, but when was the last time you were at a wedding and didn’t hear the song that made South Detroit a vacation hotspot?

(Re)check it out!
-Doug

 

 

Erev Shel Shoshanim

Erev Shel Shoshanim is the perfect song for a Jewish Bridal Procession. This is the Wikipedia definition for the Hebrew title: “Erev Shel Shoshanim  English: Evening of Lilies or “Evening of Roses.” The Hebrew word shoshana has been identified with both flower. It is a poetic Hebrew love song. Its melody is often used as wedding music in Jewish weddings, as a replacement for Here Comes the Bride.”

The melody is simple, clear and beautiful and works equally well as an instrumental or vocal. It also works very well when paired with Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

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Mazel Tov.
-Doug

Happy-Pharrell Williams

As you can infer from the name Wedding Wisdom, I’m going to dedicate this blog to share songs that work well for a wedding reception. I’ve often said that the best wedding receptions are those that look and feel like a “Black Tie Frat Party.” (Of course, I was always too busy practicing the piano to actually go to a frat party….but I think you get the point.)

As a bandleader, I have one job…to get as many people on the dance floor as humanly possible, and keep them there. I’m convinced that there is an algorithm to prove “a direct correlation between the amount of people on the dance floor equalling the perceived success of your party.” When people say, “what a great party!!,” they’re invariably referring to the fact that the dance floor was full for a great deal of the night.

That’s why I’m devoting this blog site to discussing songs that get people dancing. Or at least songs that will keep a dance set going once it’s begun. To keep people dancing, one song has to lead directly into the next with no hesitation. That way when people do get up to dance, they’ll stay on for the duration.

As a general rule, people dance to songs they immediately recognize and can sing along to. Or songs that have a great chorus that everyone can sing along to. Or, try to. Hardly anyone knows every word to any given song. For example, try singing a single verse of the song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. Everybody knows that one, right? Try it. I’ll start…”Because I’m Happy….” Quick, what’s the next line? Or the next? I’ve actually started asking people that exact question. Only one person actually came up with “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.”

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The reason people have always loved “Happy” is because everybody feels comfortable with it. It’s a “bro-hug” to a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Getting people on the dance floor is really not far from that exact analogy. Who wouldn’t want to wrap their arms around an old friend for 3-4 minutes? You don’t even have to have been that close with them. That’s what a successful dance set is all about. Spending time with an old friend. even if you can barely remember where you met them. The next time you’re on the dance floor, try singing along with the band, and smile when you realize that you had no idea of what the next lyric was going to be. But it sure was fun spending those 3-4 minutes with them.

Besides who could resist the charm of the video, or the lovely simplicity of the “singalong” lyrics.

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care, baby, by the way

Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy, clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy, clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

I think this would work as a fun Wedding Recessional as well.
Let me know what you think.
-Doug