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Wedding Songs

I was invited to two weddings on the third Saturday in June, and I’m not one of those people who can be in two places at once. I chose my brother’s wedding in Sonoma County over a friend’s in Lisbon, which means I’m in good standing with my family but still haven’t been to Portugal.

I commemorated both occasions with original songs, which is what I have to offer beyond the bridal registry. Not to brag, but I have good track record with “occasional” songs, as evidenced by Her Kindness (Song for Norris) and others I wrote as Kickstarter rewards. I’m particularly proud of Song for Mai Lyn, which you wouldn’t know was about a cat unless I told you.

My rule is that custom songs have to be “real” songs, i.e. more than a collection of inside jokes set to the Gilligan’s Island theme. In theory, I should be able to perform them alongside any of my other songs without anyone knowing of the difference. In practice, I don’t perform them, which may reflect their personal nature, even though identifying details are masked.

I’ve written for and performed at weddings before. In fact, I wrote four (4) songs for the Lisbon guy’s first wedding, one of which was kind of good. I’ve also performed at two memorials, including one for my cousin and another where I was asked to sing an Eagles song. If you don’t believe me, it’s on YouTube with 627 views and a thumb’s down.

You don’t have to beg me to write a custom song: any excuse to knock something out. In some cases, you have to beg me NOT to write you a song. I offered to write both of these, but only because I thought they’d be into it. And, unless I’m mistaken, they are!

I’ll Go If I Can Go With You #2

This one takes the “#2” extension because I wrote a song with the same title for my then-girlfriend/now-wife at the beginning of our relationship. I was living in New York and she was living in San Francisco, and there was a ton of back-and-forth. Of course, the travel was worth it because we could be together.

My brother and his wife faced similar geographical challenges. They met in Boston, but he pretty quickly moved to San Francisco and then to Portland. In an admirable show of solidarity – not to mention ingenuity – she figured out how to join him in both places without messing up her professional life. Now, he’s following her back to Boston, despite having to give up a desirable job. I admire their willingness to prioritize their relationship, which is so much more important than their individual careers in the scheme of things. Right?!?

I didn’t set out to rip myself off. In fact, I meant to write something completely different and utterly profound. To that end, I pursued various angles, but couldn’t find an authentic, satisfying way in. It was only when I told my brother I didn’t think it was going to happen that I felt free enough to write this song, which hints at profundity but is more notable for its simplicity and convivial humor, which is what the situation called for anyway.

January’s bleak in the Pacific Northwest
But winter in New England: man, I’m already depressed
Native Californians languish in the snow
I’ll go but I’m blue
I’ll go if I can go with you

We’ve discussed how Icarus flew into the sun
But UVB deficiency is not for everyone
There are medical solutions like supplements, I know
I’ll go and make do
I’ll go if I can go with you

Maybe relocation will ruin my career
But what’s the point of working if I’m alone out here?
Short-term unemployment, a vacation from the grind
I’ll be watching football (the European kind)

Consider this analysis: the businessman in me
Senses an unprecedented opportunity
A well-designed investment will permanently grow
I’ll go, I want to
I’ll go if I can go with you
You knew I would go with you

We Are Gathered Here Today

We Are Gathered Here Today happened quickly: I came up with a singable line and a central conceit – here we all are on this meaningful occasion! – and tried to get at what the bride and groom might be thinking/feeling. My long history with the groom – we’ve been friends for thirty years – made it easier, since I have a sense for what’s going through his head.

It can be argued that this song isn’t full-throatedly positive: there are “dangerous combinations” of friends and family in the second verse, and the couple acknowledges its “inadequacy” in the bridge. Whatever, weddings are beautiful and inspiring, but “there is a crack in everything” and imperfections are what give us perspective.

I delivered this song long enough ago that the groom, who may have been distracted by a million other details, forgot about it and didn’t share it during the wedding weekend. At least, that’s his story, and I might as well believe it.

Beautiful day
In our adoptive country
The view from the bay
Into the Sintra Mountains
Still astonishes me
We are gathered here today

Elements blend
As family members mingle
Freely with friends
In dangerous combinations
But how bad can it be?
We are gathered here today

Syllables fly
Musical conversations
Stimulate my
Already-heightened senses
Full-voiced poetry
We are gathered here today

We are gathered here to say
What our predecessors said:
I thee wed
Voluntarily exposed
Our inadequacy shows
Full speed ahead

Look at our lives
Sun in our eyes and squinting
The future arrives
Permanently imprinting
Unambiguously
We are gathered here today

Bob Hillman Administrator

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