The theme song at my junior prom was Follow You, Follow Me, by Genesis. This isn’t the worst possible song, notwithstanding dumb lines like The night is long but you are here / Close at hand, oh I’m better for the smile you give… In the selection committee’s defense, it WAS a long night. I think our senior ball theme was We’ve Got Tonight. Or maybe I have the songs and the years reversed. In any case, I’m pretty sure it was the Bob Seger version, not the Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton duet. Either way, it’s not as romantic as it appears: I know it’s late / I know you’re weary / I know your plans don’t include me… / I’ve longed for love / Like everyone else does / I know I’ll keep searching after today… It’s a song about settling for what’s in front of you. Which, come to think of it, probably applied to many of the couples at the dance (I was on a blind date.) Stephen Stills wrote the same sentiment in Love the One You’re With, but at least he made it sound fun.
Theme songs are still popular. Taylor Swift even had a hit called Our Song. He’s got a one-hand feel on the steering wheel / The other on my heart. So… Where’s his hand? Yep. When we’re on the phone and you talk real slow / ‘Cause it’s late and your mama don’t know. No, he’s not talking LOW, which would actually make sense if he didn’t want his mother to hear. He’s talking SLOW. Which is so very discreet and romantic.
I was never good at the romantic theme song gesture, but it didn’t stop me from trying. I can still remember each one, and the relationships they applied to. I won’t name the girls, but here are the songs, in order:
Like It Or Not (Genesis)
Ooh, like it or not
You have done it this time
And like it or not, I’ve had enough…
It won’t be very long
You’re just another face
That I once used to know
And I gave you everything
But what have I got to show? Oh Oh
We picked this song at the beginning of the relationship, by the way. (Love that internal rhyme in the last stanza.)
Tonight I Celebrate My Love (Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack)
I’ll just say this – not once did I get to celebrate my love.
I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues (Elton John)
Wait on me girl
Cry in the night if it helps
But more than ever
I simply love you
More than I love life itself
Not so much. Although, Time on my hands could be time spent with you certainly applied, especially when I rode my bike 8 miles to her house in a snow storm and she said, “I didn’t ask you to come over. Please go home.” (At least her father put my bike in the back of his truck and drove me.)
Every Breath You Take (The Police)
Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take
I’ll be watching you
Yeah, a stalker song. Which is starting to make sense after the previous anecdote.
Wrapped Around Your Finger (The Police)
What can I say? The Police were big that year.
It’s Sad to Belong (England Dan & John Ford Coley)
No excuses here, but check out these lyrics:
Oh, I wake up in the night
And I reach beside me hoping you will be there
But instead I find someone
Who believed in me when I said I’d always care
(A great song for the high school reunion dance!)
Dreamweaver (Gary Wright)
Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget today’s pain
Actually, this is a pretty cool theme song.
(So, I wrote all of that to write this.)
I was thinking about songs people choose for their weddings. Have you noticed how inappropriate some of these are? (Yes, I realize I’m not one to talk.) I went to DJ web sites and looked at “top wedding picks.” The same dumb songs turned up again and again. As Mandy Patinkin’s Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel)
That Billy, what a romantic.
I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
This guy doesn’t even want to work hard enough to have a conversation. You think he’s going to mow the lawn?
I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take ‘till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?
So basically: don’t gain any weight, and why don’t you support me?
My Heart Will Go On (Céline Dion)
Certainly on the Wedding Top Ten list. From a movie about a boat that hits an iceberg and sinks. Seriously – this is what you want people thinking about during your first dance?
Remember the heavy metal group with the makeup and blood and explosions? Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have gone out of their way in recent years to let people know that drummer Peter Criss did NOT write this song, because after all, you wouldn’t want anybody to think that someone in your band wrote its biggest hit. And it’s a sweet song.
Beth, I know you’re lonely
And I hope you’ll be all right
‘Cause me and the boys will be playin’
That’s right, a love song about love between the guys in the band.
The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)
It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine, that’s your way
You always walked a step behind
Maybe you’d play this at a funeral, if the narcissist of the couple was still alive and choosing the music.
Nothing Compares 2 U (Sinead O’Connor)
It’s been seven hours and fifteen days
Since you took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since you took your love away
This is CLEARLY a breakup song! In fairness, maybe it’s used exclusively by couples that broke up and got back together when one of them sent the other a mix tape with this on it. Although that approach never worked for me.
I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton or Whitney Houston)
If I should stay
Well, I would only be in your way
And so I’ll go, but yet I know
That I’ll think of you each step of my way
(See comments on the previous song.)
I Honestly Love You (Olivia Newton-John)
If we both were born
In another place and time
This moment might be ending in a kiss
But there you are with yours
And here I am with mine
So I guess we’ll just be leaving it at this…
Seriously, do people listen to these songs? This is about someone in love with someone, when both are married to other people! Who would play this at a wedding? (Another one for the high school reunion.)
More Than Words (Extreme)
This song is, by my estimate, the single most requested song at weddings, at least among DJs whose web sites I visited during my extensive research for this piece. What a romantic song, right? One of those ballads hard rock bands record when they need a hit and then complain about forevermore. (And apropos of nothing, adjectives make terrible band names.)
More Than Words consists of exactly one idea: Let’s have sex.
Sayin’ I love you
Is not the words I want to hear from you
It’s not that I want you
Not to say it, but if you only knew
How easy it would be to show me how you feel
More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
Cause I’d already know
Not that there’s anything wrong with that at a wedding, come to think of it.
While we’re at it, put on Love the One You’re With and bring Grandma out on the dance floor.