fireflies and cottonwood

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“Celebrate Good Times, Come On!” October 11, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — girldogtorch @ 8:12 pm
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Cliche alert: music has been a big part of our life together.

The night we went to the Old Courthouse to hear Tom Peteet give a speech to the Teach for America corps, when an acquaintance spilled the beans that our planned trip to the Botanical Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit was an eagerly anticipated “date,” and that I was being referred to in Stephanie’s social circle as “that guy Stephanie likes,” I had on headphones when Stephanie first saw me. I had taken the bus from my house, and was listening to Doug Sahm. I offered the headphones, and she obligingly listened to a snippet of “(Is Anybody Going to) San Antone”.

In the weeks that followed, she listened to the highlights of a stack of CDs on the night of the last day of school, we sat in my car in Kirkwood and gushed about the scene in The Royal Tenenbaums when Margot and Richie sit and listen to the first side of the American version of Between the Buttons, and talked about the first times we had heard Sufjan Stevens’ Come on, Feel the Illinoise.

Living long distances from each other for our first year together, we listened to Otis Redding on the phone together, I sent her mix tapes, and she sent me mix CDs. She introduced me to iTunes and I fussed through and organized and (correctly) relabeled her songs. I went to hear her cant at Vespers at Emmanuel, and she discovered that she would, in fact, hear me sing at Evangelical. Music, to repeat the cliche, has been important to us.

Because we are choosing to have a traditional Episcopal wedding ceremony, we are limited in the role music will play in the ceremony itself, but we both want music to help tie together the community that will gather for our wedding. We may use piano arrangements of songs at the church, we will certainly have a spotlight dance, and we will try to be thoughtful about the music that plays at the reception and, possibly, at the rehearsal dinner. Some of the songs that we have discussed for different roles in our wedding are below. For the reception, we want to hear what suggestions people have, and I really want to have that be some part of the RSVP to the invitations. We’ll see. Anyway, here are my thoughts on some of these songs.


“I Believe (When I Fall in Love With You, It Will Be Forever)” by Stevie Wonder

This is such a beautiful song, but Stevie, bless his genius heart, saw fit to give the song a number of keys and tempos, and I am not sure we’ll be able to make this work as a spotlight dance. It will certainly be played at some point over the weekend. You can count on that.

Without despair, we will share,

and the joys of caring will not be replaced.

“Bernadette,” by the Four Tops

Oh, this song brings us such joy! Levi Stubbs is not playing, at all, when he is proclaiming his love for Bernadette. From the times we played this song, talked about this song, danced to this song, especially our first year together, this song has one of the clearest claims to be “Our Song.”

Some go on searchin’ their whole life through,

and never find the love I’ve found in you

“California Stars,” by Billy Bragg & Wilco

A leading candidate for our honeymoon destination is the Sonoma County wine country in California. We have loved this song together for a long while, and I have a vision of it being our last dance of the reception. How awesome would that be?

So I’d give the world

just to dream a dream with you

on our bed of California stars.

“Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens

I’ve written, often, about this song. I am not even really sure why I like it so much. But certainly part of it is that it brings so many memories of Stephanie to mind: the trip to Boulder, being almost home again from Canada, the surprise visit and Sufjan Stevens concert, the trip to visit Chicago that last winter in St. Louis… 

I fell in love again,

(all things ‘go,’ all things ‘go’)

drove to Chicago,

(all things know, all things know)

“Sons and Daughters,” by the Decembrists

I have a vision of Stephanie and our friend Ben singing this song at a coffeehouse at the Pub, leading the students of Union in a singalong of the coda: “Hear all the bombs fade away…” Stephanie is convinced that my temples naturally smell of cinnamon. No one else has ever noticed, but she swears to it.

We’ll make our homes on the water.

We’ll build our walls (aluminum),

we’ll fill our mouths with cinnamon.

“This Will Be Our Year,” by OK, Go

Wouldn’t this be a great recessional on piano? As we walk hand in hand out of the church?

The warmth of your love’s

like the warmth of the sun,

and this will be our year,

took a long time to come.

“Bright As Yellow,” by the Innocence Mission

If we didn’t go the R&B route, this may be my preference for a spotlight dance. It is just so gorgeous, and the statement of joy and vitality in the lyrics is very appropriate for us.

I do not wish to be a rose,

I do not wish to be pale pink,

but flower scarlet, flower gold

and have no thorns to distance me.

“This Magic Moment,” by the Drifters

This is not, particularly, a “Stephanie and Matt” song. I have loved it ever since I got the Atlantic Rhythm & Blues box. But it is indubitably one of the iconic romantic statements of American popular culture. So, so good.

Everything I want, I have

whenever I hold you tight.

“Lay Lady Lay,” by Bob Dylan

Stephanie said that she was embarrassed at her lack of knowledge of Dylan when she met me. I can’t hold that against anyone, since my embarrassing lack of knowledge of Dylan extended well into my 20s. This, though, and the whole Nashville Skyline album, brings to my mind memories of our first year apart. I think I put this on the first mix tape I made for Stephanie.

Why wait any longer for the one you love

when he’s standing in front of you?

“Sweet Jane,” by the Cowboy Junkies

More of a dark horse candidate for spotlight song. Another gorgeous song that wouldn’t show up my manifold deficiencies as a dancer.

Anyone who’s ever had a heart

wouldn’t turn around and break it.

“Happy Song,” by Otis Redding

One of several Otis Redding songs that we like to listen to together. Sometimes, if I am feeling relaxed enough, I even sing along.

When I sing this song,

singing it for my baby.

She’s the only one, can bring me joy.

“Sha-la-la (Make Me Happy)” by Al Green

You really can’t go wrong with Al Green, much like Otis Redding–he’s a slam dunk. The problem is, he’s almost expected. “Let’s Stay Together” is wonderful, but while we are not trying to be too hip, we don’t think we have enough of a personal Al Green connection to pull off using it prominently. Maybe we could use “Make Me Happy,” though

It’s something that just gets down in your bones,

and once I see you I can’t leave your love alone.

“Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine

We really like both the Iron & Wine and the Postal Service versions of this song, but for me at least, I think this would be my preferred version. I also feel like this would be good in a piano arrangement.

I am thinking it’s a sign

that the freckles in our eyes

are mirror images

and when we kiss, they’re perfectly aligned.

Obviously, there are a whole slew of other songs we might want to use. Just off the top of my head, I can think of “She Smiled Sweetly,” “No Lonesome Tune,” “Let Me Touch You for Awhile,” and “Girl.” Any thoughts?


8 Responses to ““Celebrate Good Times, Come On!””

  1. Jan Says:

    I am not sure how you could have made it into your 20’s without having heard “Nashville Skyline.” Maybe you didn’t consciously remember, but “Lay Lady Lay” was one of our songs, and I am sue that Nashville Skyline spent quite a bit of time on the stereo. I know that we didn’t bring our records with us when we left Ohio, but I am pretty sure that would have been one of the albums that I made a tape of. There were five or six albums that we listened to constantly when we were dating, that was one, Simon and Garfunkel “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”, Buddy Rich “Norweigen Wood,” and Dave Bruebeck “Time Out.” Or at least I think those are the titles of the albums. It isn’t like now when you can put five cd’s on the player and shuffle them or listen to them all. I think it was one record at a time or at the most three. There are things you just have to do in your lives in order to be able to move on and not moving our pounds of records was one of them. We never looked back, because it would have made us entirely too sad. But in my memory I can still sit in that basement on Dawson Drive (in the dark) and hear that music playing.

  2. girldogtorch Says:

    I certainly do not remember it from childhood. It definitely wasn’t a tape that got brought out for car trips.

  3. Andrew Says:

    Oh, I do love the Postal Service version of that song, “Such Great Heights.” I remember listening to it while painting Aisla’s nursery.

  4. Shelly Says:

    I think the OK, Go song is a cover of a Zombies song. Do you know the Zombies? Totally fantastic 60’s songwriting, cream of the British crop. Seriously. Odessey [sic] & Oracle is the name of the album, and it’s just, God, it’s just beautiful. If you want, I could burn it for you and leave it outside your door.

    The Zombies version of that song is one of my songs with Aaron. I think it is sooo beautiful.

  5. girldogtorch Says:

    Matt here — that sounds awesome. It would be great if you could get us a copy to hear. I have always heard good things about the Zombies, but I am not really familiar with them.

  6. Shelly Says:

    It’s on the ground, leaning against the wall, to the right of your door.

  7. Chris Says:

    Interesting list. I notice there’s a fair amount of crossover between this list, your iPod top 10 list from LJ, and the CD you sent me not too long ago. I love that Bright As Yellow song, but I’m not sure I see it as a spotlight dance. I like the R&B route.

    Two songs I think are really kick ass, which I doubt Amanda would ever agree to for a spotlight dance are “Modern Nature” by Sondre Lerch and Lillian Samdal (it was the final credits song in the movie Dan In Real Life, where they’re playing the first dance at their wedding… just a great fun song, and it helps that I loved that movie… look it up if you’ve never heard it) and “It’s Not Unusual” by Tom Jones, which some friends of ours played for their first dance (the wedding we went to in Destin, FL).

    I love that version of “Such Great Heights”. I guess that could be a spotlight slow dance song. I don’t know. You’ve got a lot of intersting choices in there.

    By the way, anytime the topic of wedding music comes up, it always reminds me of one of Amanda and my favorite ongoing conversations, which is to name the most inappropriate reception music for things like the first dance, the father/daughter dance, the mother/son dance, the dollar dance (if you’ve ever seen that one), or any of the other staged dances. Try it sometime. It’s fun.

  8. Amanda Says:

    Alright, I’m going to be obnoxious and correct Chris; but I feel as though this distinction is important. Amy and Julio danced to “Help Yourself”, a much better selection than “It’s Not Unusual”. As a Tom Jones fan, I love them all, but “Help Yourself” is one of the best.

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