After sitting through your 57th rendition of Etta James’s “At Last,” it’s hard not to become a bit contemplative. With all the good music out there, why do so many couples dance to the same seven or eight hackneyed songs? Because it’s what you’re supposed to do, right?
Well, I don’t buy it.
When your DJ, Gus, or your Aunt Edna, tells you that you need to dance to some artless piece of white-bread Disneyland fluff so that “everybody can enjoy it,” you turn right around and say, “Listen up, Gus. Listen up Edna. I’m an individual and my first dance is going to express that individuality!”
Long story short, there are literally thousands of beautiful songs that are never played at weddings. Here are my top five that I’d love to hear someday (click the links to listen).
1) “Heartbeats” by Jose Gonzalez
Sure, this is a song about a one-night stand and yeah, it’s a cover of a sort of techno-ish synthpop song, but the soothing sounds of Swedish singer/guitarist, Jose Gonzalez, are a force to be reckoned with. To me, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded.
2) “The Lime Tree” by Trevor Hall
Reggae music artist Trevor Hall comes through the Denver/Boulder area several times a year and has been known to grant requests for performances at weddings, proposals, and the like. How cool would it be to have the man himself jam “The Lime Tree” for your first dance?
3) “A Sunday Smile” by Beirut
How about a waltz? Not for everyone, maybe, but I think it would be great. And no contemporary musical act utilizes the waltz time signature more gracefully than does Beirut in “A Sunday Smile.”
4) “Into My Arms” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Nick Cave is the man. Enough said.
5) “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie
This has been one of my favorite songs since its release in 2005, and when I heard it played for the first dance at a wedding a couple years back, I was so pleasantly surprised, I almost forgot I was supposed to be taking photos! After the dance concluded, I overheard one groomsmen say to another, “That was the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.” That gave me a good chuckle, and while I can certainly understand that perspective, I personally feel the exact opposite about the song.
The moral of the story is that there are so many things you can do for your first dance, it’d be a shame to just follow suit with the hoi polloi. Find a song that’s unique for you and don’t worry about what DJ Gus, Aunt Edna, or anyone else, thinks about it.