Chapel Of Love

Album: Chapel Of Love (1964)
Charted: 22 1
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  • Lyrics
  • This idyllic song about wedding joy was written by Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, who got married the year before they wrote it. Barry wrote the lyrics with marriage on his mind, then Greenwich worked out the chord progression on a piano in their New York City apartment.
  • Thanks in large part to The Beatles, there were plenty of "love" songs in 1964, but most of those were about some form of puppy love or about the feeling of falling in love. "Chapel Of Love" was different because it dealt with the wedding day, making it about the commitment that comes after the courtship. There's a promise at the end of the chorus: We'll never be lonely anymore.
  • Barry and Greenwich wrote this song for Phil Spector to produce. It was intended (appropriately) for Darlene Love, and she recorded the first version, with Spector producing as intended. He wasn't happy with this recording, so he tried it with The Ronettes, who a year earlier had their biggest hit with "Be My Baby," written by Barry and Greenwich.

    These renditions were never released, as Barry and Greenwich made a deal with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who had recently formed Red Bird Records with industry heavyweight George Goldner. With Leiber and Stoller producing, The Dixie Cups recorded the song, which was the first release on Red Bird.

    Phil Spector was furious with Barry and Greenwich for beating him to the market with the song and took it as an act of betrayal, although he did get a songwriting credit, which was something he demanded when working with songwriters. He didn't hold the grudge: Spector teamed up with Barry and Greenwich again for the 1966 track "River Deep - Mountain High."
  • The Dixie Cups are the New Orleans trio of Joan Marie Johnson and her cousins, the sisters Barbara and Rosa Hawkins. A New Orleans impresario named Joe Jones brought them to New York with some other artists to audition for producers and music publishers. When Leiber and Stoller heard them, they had them record "Chapel Of Love," which Ellie Greenwich taught them. The trio arranged it in the vocal style they had perfected, and everyone involved loved the result. Wardell Quezergue, who was from New Orleans and knew the girls, worked up the horn arrangement and they recorded it a few days later.
  • This being a song about a wedding, there had to be some bells, especially for the line, "Bells will ring, the sun will shine." Leiber and Stoller hadn't planned for this, but they got lucky: a set of chimes was left in the studio from a previous session. Mike Stoller tried to play them, but he wasn't very good at it. They got another lucky break when their friend Artie Butler, who played percussion, came by. He competently struck the chimes, which come in at the second chorus and remain relatively subtle.
  • The Dixie Cups were using the name The Mel-tones when they recorded this. Mike Stoller changed their name, since Mel Tormé called his backing singers the Mel-tones. Since the girls were from the south, he figured "dixie" was appropriate, and he also had fond memories of eating dixie cup ice cream.
  • This was chosen over several other songs as the first single on Red Bird Records. Jerry Leiber didn't like the song, but their label partner George Goldner was sure it was a hit, and part of his job was picking the singles. He proved spot-on: the song went to #1 and stayed there for three weeks.
  • In 1972, Bette Midler released a version produced by Barry Manilow on her first album. The next year, a different version was issued as the B-side of her song "Friends," and the single reached #40 in the US. It remained one of her most popular songs to perform in concert throughout her career.

    Another popular cover is by The Beach Boys, who included it on their 1976 album 15 Big Ones. Elton John also recorded the song; his version was used in the 1994 movie Four Weddings and a Funeral and appeared on the soundtrack. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jerro - New Alexandria, PA
  • The song has been used in these movies:

    Full Metal Jacket (1987)
    Betsy's Wedding (1990)
    Father of the Bride (1991)
    The Skeleton Key (2005)

    And these TV series:

    Glee ("On My Way" - 2012)
    Scream Queens ("Drain the Swamp" - 2016)
  • Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich weren't his and hers until the end of time; they divorced in 1965.
  • This was by far the biggest hit for The Dixie Cups, but they had further chart success. Their next single, "People Say," went to #12 US, and in 1965 they reached #20 with their version of "Iko Iko."
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Comments: 8

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 28th 1964, the 'Dick Clark Caravan of Stars' show appeared at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Field House in Troy, NY...
    One of the thirteen acts that performed were the Dixie-Cups; and at the time the trio's "Chapel of Love" was at #7 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, just under a month earlier on May 31st it had peaked at #1 for three weeks {See next post below}...
    And roughly 175 miles north of Troy, in Canada, it was at #1 on the Canadian RPM 100 chart...
    Between May of 1964 and April of 1965 the girls from New Orleans had five Top 100 records; their second biggest hit, "People Say", came close to being their second Top 10 record when it peaked at #12 in 1965.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 26th 1964, "Chapel of Love" by the Dixie Cups entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #72; and five weeks later on May 31st, 1964 it would peak at #1 for three weeks {See next post below}...
    And on June 27th, 1964 it also reached #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian RPM Singles chart...
    On the Top 100 "Chapel of Love" knocked a Lennon-McCartney composition, "Love Me Do", out of the #1 spot and it was another Lennon-McCartney song, "A World Without Love" by Peter and Gordon, which would replaced the Dixie Cups at #1.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 9th, 1964, the Dixie Cups performed "Chapel of Love" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    Seven months earlier on May 31st it peaked at #1 (for 3 weeks) and stayed on the Top 100 for 13 weeks...
    Nine years later in 1973 it was covered by Bette Midler, it was the B-side of "Friends", which reached #40...
    The Ronettes also covered it...
    R.I.P. Jimmy O'Neil (Shindig's host, 1940 - 2013).
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkI remember this #1 hit song from the Dixie Cups in '64. It was much much later when I learned that producer Phil Spector had a falling-out with the song's composers (Barry-Greenwich), since they were usually colleagues at Philles Records where they provided song for the Crystal, the Ronettes, and others in the "stable." Then about ten years ago I saw a PBS-TV special on classic oldies of rock & roll in which the Dixie Cups appeared with other 1950s & 1960s stars. I don't know if they were the original stars because by then I heard many old groups were reappearing on the "oldies concert circuit" with members who were not the original group members. The Dixie Cups sang "Chapel of Love" appearing in red, skin-tight, "night club" gowns & the girls appeared to be 90 pounds overweight and literally crammed into their gowns. Still, I had good memories of 1964, junior high school, good ol' rock and roll, my old friends, and this song!
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumEllie Greenwich died on August 26 2009. The was a very talented singer/songwriter/producer. RIP Ellie and thank you.
  • Christina from Wolcott, CtI love this song! This is featured in"Father of the Bride" and it is one of my alltime fave movies, too! How does this song describe a wedding?
  • Steve Dotstar from Los Angeles, CaI became a fan of Joe Jones and his arranging after hearing this record by the Dixie Cups..Nice production by Leiber and Stoller!
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumIt's a very good song, a great "Wall of Sound", I like it. Since I got Phil Spector's cd-box
    "Back to Mono" I know there is a version of Darlene Love, I like it too. Phil Spector also produced 2 versions of a song he has written with Barry/Greenwich : "Baby I love you", the first version from the Ronettes, the second from the Ramones; both are very good, very Spector.
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