Don’t Waste Your Favorite Song On Your First Wedding
When I tell people that my wedding song was U2’s“Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” I wait to see how long it takes them to realize I am joking. In hindsight, maybe it should have been.
There were few things that I had control over when planning my wedding to Arlene (ex-wife) — we did whatever she wanted to do. For example, when it came time to buy the wedding bands we had a budget of about $600. Arlene bought a $550 band for herself and I took a floor model for $50. If you ever see my wedding video, when Arlene slipped the ring on my finger she couldn’t get it over my knuckle.
The one thing I was adamant about was the wedding song. I wasn’t one to dream about my wedding as a child, but I did know what song I wanted: “As Time Goes By” from Casablanca. When we met with the DJ for our wedding I told them that I wanted the Dooley Wilson version of the song, from the movie. He assured me that would not be a problem.
Apparently, it was.
Two days before the wedding the DJ called and said he could not find a copy of Dooley Wilson’s version of the song, but he had a nice cover by Carly Simon. I told him no. Barbara Streisand? No. Engelbert Humperdinck? I told him I’d find the song myself.
This was the Eighties — long before iTunes and downloading a song to your cell phone was an option (having a cell phone wasn’t even an option). Given the short time frame between the DJ’s call and the wedding I did not find the version of the song I wanted. My friend Lou, who was also in my wedding party, told me he had a Harry Nilsson version that I would like and that he would bring to the reception. Without hearing the song I thanked him and went on with the pre-wedding prep.
At the reception, after the wedding party had been introduced, Arlene and I went up for our first dance as man and wife. Accompanied by applause we stepped to the middle of the dance floor and waited for our song to begin. As we started to sway to the first few notes of the song all I could think of was, “What the hell song is this?”
Is that a cello? Are those violins? There are no violins in the song. There is just a singer and a piano. Arlene looked at me with a frozen smile and eyes that screamed “What the f*ck did you do?” I could hear whispers of “What song is this?” coming from our guests who stood with heads cocked as they each struggled to be the first to figure out this mystery tune.
A minute is a very long time when you are the center of attention and 150 people stare at you as the pretentious asses who picked a 16th century waltz for their wedding song.
“You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh...”
A collective “ahh” could be heard from the crowd and a few heads nodded in approval as the secret song was finally revealed. Soon other couples joined us on the dance as we completed our first dance as husband and wife. After that everyone in the wedding party donned Ray-Ban sunglasses and broke into a rousing rendition of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll.” Later, after many drinks, and with the men on one side of the dance floor and the woman on the other, we slowly moved toward each other and acted out “Paradise by the Dashboard Light“ as it blared in the background (thank GOD there was no YouTube back then). Maybe I should have paid more attention to those lyrics.
I have now been divorced more years than I had been married, but even with all that time behind me I could never reuse my wedding song if I ever got married again. Maybe Karma was trying to tell me something about me and marriage that night — I had the right song, just the wrong version.
Now I tell people that if I ever do get married again, my wedding song is going to be The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” but this time I won’t be joking.