If you’ve been forced to sit through a typical wedding video, feigning interest in the awkward dancing and lame speeches, you’ll understand why weddings rarely show up in songs – they’re not that interesting. If you’re going to describe a wedding in a song, you better punch it up a bit and pull out the pathos and dysfunction that led to this unfortunate event, since that’s much more interesting than “they all lived happily ever after.” Let’s look at some songs where weddings show up.
10. Someone Saved My Life Tonight – Elton John
Gotta love this one – the anti-wedding song is about Bernie Taupin talking Elton out of getting married. Probably worked out for the best given the eventual marriage that Elton did have, to a great guy from Canada. Way to go Bernie – we love Elton for all the great music he has given the world.
9. White Wedding – Billy Idol
Some couples can’t resist playing it at their own weddings, but the song is about a guy who thinks the girl is marrying the wrong dude. Billy Idol’s little sister really did get married, but he had no beef with their nuptials: “Little Sister” is just slang for “Girl.”
In a classic moment in the movie The Wedding Singer, Billy Idol shows up and helps Adam Sandler’s character get the girl – the right one this time.
8. Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) – Beyoncé
“If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it”
She spent three years waiting for the ring, but now she’s moved on to a new man and she’s feeling sassy. Beyoncé was happily married to a certain Jigga, but her alter ego Sasha Fierce spoke for the women who were losing patience.
7. I Write Sins Not Tragedies – Panic At The Disco
“What a shame, the poor groom’s bride is a whore.”
As he’s wandering the church before his wedding, the groom hears a bridesmaid tell a waiter that the bride has been sleeping around. Good that he found out now so he can call off the wedding before it’s too late… but wait, must think rationally. All these people are here and they expect a wedding. He can’t back out now, can he?
6. Modern Love – David Bowie
Hard to say exactly what this song is about – there is a lot of imagery painted by the lyrics, but there is definitely a theme of love and marriage running through. Bowie expresses a traditionalist view, saying that a man doesn’t need religion or the church to express his love. Plus it has a good beat and you can dance to it!
5. The River – Bruce Springsteen
“We went down to the courthouse and the judge put it all to rest. No wedding day smiles, no walk down the aisle, no flowers, no wedding dress.”
When it’s really bleak, you skip the ceremony completely. Just head to the town hall, pay the fees, sign the papers and eek out the rest of your life. The story was inspired by Springsteen’s sister, who got pregnant and married when she was still a teenager.
4. “You Never Can Tell (C’est la Vie)” – Chuck Berry
Beginning with the teenage wedding, the couple is then sent out into the cold, hard reality to face their new life together. This is the song that John Travolta and danced to in the retro diner in Pulp Fiction during the twist contest.
3. Chapel of Love – Dixie Cups
Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich formed Red Bird Records along with Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner. The first release on the new label was the Dixie Cups version of “Chapel Of Love,” which came out before Spector’s recordings with The Ronettes and Darlene Love.
2. Makin’ Whoopie – Eddie Cantor
You have to go back a few generations for this one, but it’s well worth it. Long before Ray Romano explained that married men have sex with the same frequency their quarterly taxes are due, Cantor sang about the dangers of wedded life, asking what the groom will be doing in a year. In his story, the lifeforce is sucked out of the poor married guy who finds himself washing dishes instead of enjoying life’s pleasures. And he’s stuck: getting out of it will cost him too much money. As the judge explains: “You better keep her, I think it’s cheaper.”
1. Paradise By the Dashboard Light – Meat Loaf
“Do you love me? Will you love me forever?”……”Now I’m waiting for the end of time, so I can end my time with you.”
This song doesn’t start off about marriage, but gets there by the end.
Sometimes we make big decisions in the heat of the moment that have devastating long-term effects. You’re parked by the lake with a beautiful girl, but if you want to touch home, you’ll have to marry her. Pay special attention to the end of this epic song: he keeps his promise to love her ’til the end of time, but he’s miserable, and she probably is too. The things that are said and promised in the heat of passion – and so poignant a song about it has never been written.