If you've been forced to sit through a typical wedding video, feigning interest in the awkward dancing and lame speeches, you'll understand why weddings rarely show up in songs: They're not that interesting. If you're going to describe a wedding in a song, you better punch it up a bit and pull out the pathos and dysfunction that led to this unfortunate event, since that's much more interesting than "they all lived happily ever after." Let's look at some songs where weddings show up.White Wedding by Billy Idol (1982)
"Hey little sister who's the one you want? Hey little sister shot gun!"
Some couples can't resist playing it at their own weddings, but the song is about a guy who thinks the girl is marrying the wrong dude. Billy Idol's little sister really did get married, but he had no beef with their nuptials: "Little Sister" is just slang for "Girl."
The song showed up in the movie The Wedding Singer when Adam Sandler's character hears it after his wedding is called off. Later in the movie, Billy Idol helps him get the girl - the right one this time.
Band of Gold by Freda Payne (1970)
"That night on our honeymoon, we stayed in separate rooms."
Something has gone horribly wrong. Separate rooms for the honeymoon, and now he's left her "filled with sadness, filled with gloom." Why did this this guy get married in the first place? This is a bait-and-switch with her love life, and he's hiding something.
Despite the morose lyrics, it's got a catchy tune and provided Payne with her biggest hit. Belinda Carlisle recorded the song in 1986 for her first solo album.
Makin' Whoopie by Eddie Cantor (1928)
"The choir sings, another bride, another victim is by her side."
You have to go back a few generations for this one, but it's well worth it. Long before Ray Romano explained that married men have sex with the same frequency their quarterly taxes are due, Cantor sang about the dangers of wedded life, asking what the groom will be doing in a year. In his story, the lifeforce is sucked out of the poor married guy who finds himself washing dishes instead of enjoying life's pleasures. And he's stuck: getting out of it will cost him too much money. As the judge explains: "You better keep her, I think it's cheaper."
I Write Sins Not Tragedies by Panic At The Disco (2005)
"What a shame, the poor groom's bride is a whore."
As he's wandering the church before his wedding, the groom hears a bridesmaid tell a waiter that the bride has been sleeping around. Good that he found out now so he can call off the wedding before it's too late... but wait, must think rationally. All these people are here and they expect a wedding. He can't back out now, can he?
The River by Bruce Springsteen (1980)
"We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest. No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers, no wedding dress."
When it's really bleak, you skip the ceremony completely. Just head to the town hall, pay the fees, sign the papers and eek out the rest of your life. The story was inspired by Springsteen's sister, who got pregnant and married when she was still a teenager.
The Big Excepetion
Chapel Of Love by The Dixie Cups (1964)
"Bells will ring, the sun will shine. I'll be his and he'll be mine. We'll love until the end of time, and we'll never be lonely anymore."
Now here's the big, happy wedding we all dreamed of. The one that happens at the end of movies when all conflict has been resolved. The team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich wrote this blissful tune, which remains the ultimate joyful wedding song.
Marry Me, or Else
Some songs explain the lead-up to a wedding, with the girl pressuring the guy to produce a ring. The alternative could be much worse: celibacy.Paradise By the Dashboard Light by Meat Loaf (1977)
"Do you love me? Will you love me forever?"
Sometimes we make big decisions in the heat of the moment that have devastating long-term effects. You're parked by the lake with a beautiful girl, but if you want to touch home, you'll have to marry her. Pay special attention to the end of this epic song: he keeps his promise to love her 'til the end of time, but he's miserable, and she probably is too. I'm guessing they have kids by now to go with their memories of that very special night.
Keep Your Hands To Yourself by The Georgia Satellites (1986)
"No huggy no kissy until I get a wedding ring"
The only ring he wants to produce is on the telephone, but he's just not smooth enough to make it happen. He falls in the same trap as Meat Loaf, agreeing to "live with you for the rest of my life."
Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyoncé (2008)
"If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it"
She spent three years waiting for the ring, but now she's moved on to a new man and she's feeling sassy. Beyoncé was happily married to a certain Jigga, but her alter ego Sasha Fierce spoke for the women who were losing patience.
Wedding Bell Blues by The 5th Dimension (1969)
"Kisses and love won't carry me til you marry me Bill"
When The 5th Dimension recorded this song, band members Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. were engaged, making the "Marry me Bill" theme true to life. But Davis isn't the real "Bill." The song was written by Laura Nyro when she was just 18. "Bill" was "Bill Carter," an actor who was having an affair with the jazz singer Helen Merrill, who was related by marriage to Laura.
Other Songs that Describe a Wedding
By Starlight by The Smashing Pumpkins (1995)
"My life has been empty, my life has been untrue, and does she really know, who i really am?"
Billy Corgan pours his heart out about his 1993 wedding, when he knew he made a mistake. The divorce came four years later.
Wedding Day by Seal (2007)
"Many minds will recall with us tomorrow, following our love."
Seal wrote this the very day he married Heidi Klum, and even had her sing on it.
The Circus by Take That (2008)
"And now you can applaud my best mistake. I love you was too many words to say"
A real life story about a best man who just went through a nasty breakup. He got drunk and gave a painful speech.
Let's Get Married by Al Green (1973)
"Don't wanna say anything to drive you away, let's get married today."
Al Green sounds like he's bored and wants to get married for something to do. Maybe the least romantic let's-get-married song ever.
Honky Tonk Union by Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers (2000)
"They got married in a honky tonk bar, said their vows on a 6-string steel guitar"
Inspired by The Steakout in Southern Arizona, Clyne takes us inside a cowboy wedding.
April 7, 2010
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