Tuesday Ten: 252: Inappropriate Wedding Songs

It all started at one of the very first weddings we attended. Up in the hills west of Huddersfield, this wedding had an “alternative” soundtrack as befitted the bride and groom, and after a first dance of Velvet Revolver’s Fall To Pieces and a succession of amusingly – and we have no idea if unwittingly or not – inappropriate songs that culminated in Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, we hatched a plan.

This was nine or more years ago. In the years since, Daisy and I have talked about the idea of putting in as many “inappropriate” wedding songs into our wedding day. In fact, so much that when we did (finally) get married last week, said songs became the core of the music across the day. From when Daisy walked down the aisle, to the first dance, to the intended last song of the night.

I have no idea how much thought other people put into the music for their wedding. I’ve never asked. If when they book a DJ, do they give a whole list of songs they want to hear, or just a handful, or just give them guidelines? We thought about doing so, but instead built a playlist (and perhaps we overthought it). That took us months, and I was tinkering with the order up to the last day – and there were notes next to the long list that included songs on particular subjects that meant something to us, various “inappropriate” songs, songs that would make people dance, songs that would make people laugh, but most of all, songs that would ensure a party.

That it worked so well – there was a dancefloor right to the end – was quite astonishing, and there were a few songs that I never thought we’d ever get away with at a wedding. The whole playlist is linked below if you’d like to listen along, and all songs written about here were on the final wedding playlist, whether they actually managed to be played or not in the end (a few were missed off due to timing issues and one was missing due to iTunes not playing nicely).

A final note – with grateful thanks to The Parcel Yard who were our wonderfully cheery hosts and our wedding venue, and to Tim Payne who took the photos used here.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with Kylie Minogue
Where The Wild Roses Grow
Murder Ballads

That music would end up being an important part of our wedding day was perhaps telegraphed when the first thing that we ever agreed on for it was the first dance. And that was agreed eight, nine years before the day eventually happened? But it seemed so appropriate to us, however “wrong” it sounds – we both adore the album it comes from (and the Bad Seeds), it sounds so gloriously romantic…ok, if you avoid the bit where he kills her with a rock at the end. But on the day, it allowed us to ham it up a bit, and I even managed (with the assistance of the wedding party) to provide a (blood red) rose to place between Daisy’s teeth at the right moment.

Philip Jeays
Cupid Is A Drunkard
Cupid Is A Drunkard

For love should be / Wild and free / Not wedlocked in a cage“. Ah yes, the single greatest – and funniest – song about the futility of marriage was chosen by Daisy to be the song that she “walked down the aisle” to, and it’s probably best that the third verse didn’t get played (occupying itself as it does with the vicar) at a wedding presided over by a registrar. Long since Jeays’ signature song, I guess, we actually told the delighted singer last year of our plans for the song. That he then dedicated it to us when playing it that night suggests he approved (he explains more about the song at another show here, twenty seconds in or so)…

Dolly Parton
I Will Always Love You
Jolene

No, not the godawful, overwrought Whitney Houston version, the original – and far superior – Dolly Parton take (and a choice of Daisy’s, I should add). Not as “eternal love” as the title might suggest, this sparse, cracked ballad is a song of goodbyes. One where the end has been found, and kind of accepted, and a tearful Parton is leaving the scene before things get any worse. (At no point in the eleven years with Daisy, by the way, have I ever considered leaving her and nor do I intend to anytime soon!)

The Long Blondes
You Could Have Both
Someone To Drive You Home

The arch, high-art loving Long Blondes appeared to be following in a tradition of such bands from their home of Sheffield, where songs had whip-smart lyrics, were preoccupied in sex and living life, and had their roots in anything but the usual sources for indie bands. That their tenure was cut short was a bit of a shame, but at least they left us songs as great as this. A song that features Kate Jackson making it clear in no uncertain terms that relationships don’t have to be…orthodox to work.

Leonard Cohen
Everybody Knows
I’m Your Man

There was no way that we’d be able to construct a playlist for our wedding without a Leonard Cohen song somewhere, but what song? It could have been one of quite a few, really, but this one covered pretty much all the bases (and as it happened, the long-stem rose had already been provided a few songs before). But if you want to really work to that theme, there is one lyric here that fits it perfectly: “Everybody knows you’ve been discreet / But there were so many people you just had to meet / Without your clothes” Leonard, you’ve such a way with put-downs…

Consolidated feat. The Yeastie Girlz
You Suck
Play More Music

There wasn’t too much industrial on the playlist, actually, as we chose to play it safe on that front and stick to a few cast-iron dancefloor classics. But there was a pairing brought across from my DJ sets over the past few years that pretty much never fails, and was perhaps my one selfish indulgence. That is, the so-dirty-you-need-a-wash-after-hearing Do Ya Think I’m Sexy by RevCo, followed by…this. To put no finer point on it, this is industrial/political radicals Consolidated giving a female voice to sexual politics (and safe, and fun, sex) without any form of censorship whatsoever. Yes, it’s crude, but that’s the point – and it amused us no end when a) it filled the dancefloor, and b) we realised that the regular punters downstairs had just heard all the lyrics loud and clear. Oh well….

Robyn
Dancing On My Own
Body Talk Pt. 1

It may have taken me a few years to realise it – Daisy, of course, had known this for ages beforehand – but I now accept that Robyn is basically better than everyone else at making glorious, skyscraping pop songs with a bleak, broken heart at their core. This is the best of them all, where she hears the rumours, and decides to see her ex-partner with their new girl for herself – and hearing her describing standing in the shadows, watching them dance and kiss, is impossibly real to anyone who has had their heart broken. Ironically enough, I was taking a break by the time this was played, so was watching the dancefloor myself as Daisy and her friends threw their hands in the air to the chorus…

Therapy?
Screamager
Troublegum

Amusingly the only song we played all night to start a rowdier dancefloor (with the Grade I listed status of the venue, we had to break up a moshpit, sorry folks!), the meaning of this song clearly has continued to resonate on many of us – even though most of us have married or are in longer-term relationships nowadays. Andy Cairns, in his younger days, had a whole slew of songs riddled with self-loathing and failure, and this song was probably the most forceful, with the jackhammer rhythm and buzzing guitars ramming home the internal monologue of the lyrics where he can’t let go of another futile crush and punishes himself for it over and over again.

Tammy Wynette
D-I-V-O-R-C-E

What could be more inappropriate at a wedding than a song about divorce? Another early choice in the playlist, this song by the country legend does the clever trick of never actually naming the event described as her marriage is falling apart (the reason given in the song is so that her child doesn’t find out). This song, by the way, was sung by someone with experience – by the time of the release of it in 1968, she’d already been married twice, and would be married three more times before her death thirty years later.

Mogwai feat. Aidan Moffat
R U Still In 2 It?
Young Team

Finally…this was intended to be the closing song of the night, but events conspired to mean it didn’t get played. It’s probably for the best, really, but both Daisy and I absolutely love this song. Featuring Aidan Moffat from Arab Strap – a band whose speciality was songs about bitter failure in love – it is seven minutes of delicate chords and gentle drums, with Moffat lamenting a relationship long beyond repair and hope. And despite the sad nature of the song, it remains one of the prettiest moments amid the scorched-earth power of Young Team.

Away from the music, though, I’ve said it already, and I’ll say it again. Our wedding was a wonderful day, full of happy memories that I’ll cherish for ever. Those (many) songs that meant something to us that we included helped that little bit.

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