Thursday, 24 January 2008

White Wedding

Gentle reader, 'tis time to put aside your daily cares and woes, and take a step sidewards into the world of whimsy and conjecture once more. Which, for anyone who has stumbled upon this blog by accident, (best Google search to land here by mistake so far: "example of a bad ambition" ), is a very good thing, since I was otherwise intending to explain in great detail the reasons behind my boundless love of small, independent instrument shops - dredging out chunks of my far-from-exciting teenage years (& psyche) in the process, and ending with a bit of an onslaught against one particular branch of a national retail chain (in the UK). Oh, and I was going to rip the piss out of the terrible guitar & amp I happened upon while I was there, but I'll save it all until next week instead. Consider yourselves fortunate, indeed!

Instead, let's re-examine a subject I touched upon briefly in "What Do You Want From Me", back in September - gloriously inappropriate songs for bands to play at weddings. This was prompted by an evening spent with a couple of close friends, one of them recounting the tale of his band kicking off a wedding reception with a spirited rendition of "Bad Moon Rising", which, as the song went on, and the gist of the lyrics slowly sank in, earned them ever-filthier looks from the bride's parents.

So we started trying to compile a setlist of songs that really shouldn't make an appearance, although I must confess a significant proportion of the WildGeese repertoire undoubtedly fell into this category, and it certainly never stopped us - and when you consider that one of our most-requested songs at weddings was Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer", well...

Anyway, since this had amused us no end, (although I'm not sure how much their neighbours enjoyed some of our more alcoholically-enhanced-harmonies), I decided to share our comedic delusions with the wider world. But that raised a few problems - it was far too easy, for instance, to think of songs that would be simply gratuitously offensive to a "family" audience, so that meant losing some of our top selections from that night. Goodbye then, alas, to South Park's jaw-droppingly-obscene, yet perkily-brilliant 'Broadway showstopper', "Uncle F*cka" [Warning: Links to YouTube video, which isn't appropriate for small children, folk at work, the socially conservative, or indeed anyone who believes that a few anglo-saxon words being used in adult-orientated comedy are more dangerous to the well-being of the populace than the effects of poverty, violence or organised religion through the ages], Leather Nun's "Fist F*ckers Associated", whole inevitable swathes of "death metal", "black metal", "goregrind", and various strands of "gangsta" (c)rap, etc,etc, etc.)

Then we come to the little ditties that wouldn't work because of their genres' stylistic conventions - the entirety of "Supper's Ready" by Genesis, perhaps, or Jethro Tull's "Thick As A Brick"...or anything I've ever played on . (I know, there are weddings where half the crowd would be well up for "Tales From Topographic Oceans" in all it's pomp and majesty, or possibly even "21st Century Schizoid Man", but I'm afraid it's the middle of the distribution curve we're looking at here. Sorry. Plus they're just a bit bloody difficult to play! I mean, think of the poor, struggling musicians, please! ) This also knocks out a host of promising material from artists like Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Leonard Cohen, Captain Beefheart and so forth. A huge shame, yes, because they have all made a number of potentially excellent wedding-reception-wrecking records (try saying that 5 times quickly when you've got a mouth full of asparagus), but still too easy.

Which, to give the appearance of fairness and consistency, must apply to the overtly fertile ground of Country (& maybe even Western), sad to say. Yep, that's right, no romantic ballads like "(Get Your Tongue Out Of My Mouth) I'm Kissing You Goodbye" (John Denver), Lyle Lovett's cheerily up-tempo "L.A. County" [even though it does have a wedding as the main subject matter...if you don't know the song, let's just say it doesn't end well for the 'happy couple'], or virtually half of Hank Williams Snr.'s deeply-personally-troubled output. (Have to give a quick honourable mention to "I've Been Flushed From The Bathroom Of Your Heart" [Johnny Cash] as a song title of sheer apposite brilliance).

In the end, I decided upon a strict set of (entirely arbitrary) criteria:
1) The song must have been a "Top 40" hit in the UK (the higher the better)
2) It has to have some passing relevance to weddings/"mawwidge"/domestic bliss/everlasting love, etc,etc. You get the general idea...
3) It must be "playable" by a moderately-talented (!) wedding covers band.
4) It's not a "novelty"/"comedy" song. Which, fortunately, rules out Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face", the "Birdy Song" (don't you just wish you could erase the nightmare from your mind?) by The Tweets, and "Agadoo" (or "Do The Conga" - take yer pick, they're both execrable) by Black Lace.

This improved matters no end - now I had a challenge! Before I reveal my selections, I'd just like to point out that I didn't let my personal taste in music get in the way of a semi-decent gag (usually buried in the lyrics, but sometimes the title did the job) at any point, even though listing certain songs, bands, and individual artistes did necessitate the placement of a spittoon in close proximity to the computer. See if you can guess which ones caused me the greatest mental discomfort...

In no particular running order:

1) "Bad Moon Rising" (Creedence Clearwater Revival - #1, 1969)
2) "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" (Iron Maiden - #1, 1991)
3) "It's All Over Now" (Rolling Stones - #1, 1964)
4) "Don't Stand So Close To Me" (Police - #1, 1980)
5) "Like A Virgin" (Madonna - #3, 1984)
6) "I Want To Break Free" (Queen - #3, 1984)
7) "Tainted Love" (Soft Cell - #1, 1981)
8) "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?" [insert obvious response here] (Culture Club - #1, 1982)
9) "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - #5, 1975)
10) "Tragedy" (Bee Gees - #1, 1979)
11) "D.I.V.O.R.C.E." [you knew it had to be in there! ] (Tammy Wynette - #12, 1975)
12) "With Or Without You" (U2 - #4, 1987)
13) "Don't Marry Her (F*ck Me)" (The Beautiful South - #8, 1996)
14) "Shotgun Wedding" (Rod Stewart - #21, 1993)
15) "Wedding Bells" (Godley & Creme - #7, 1981)
16) "Caught Out There (I Hate You So Much Right Now)" (Kelis - #4, 2000)
17) "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" (Sting - #26, 1985)
18) "White Wedding" (Billy Idol - #6, 1985)
19) "Here I Go Again (On My Own)" (Whitesnake - #9, 1987)
20) "(You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me) Lucille" (Kenny Rogers - #1, 1977)
21) "Love Will tear Us Apart" (Joy Division - #13, 1980)
22) "Love Is Only A Feeling" (The Darkness - #5, 2004)
23) "You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart" (Eurythmics - #16, 1988)
24) "Kiss The Bride" (Elton John - #20, 1983)
25) "Poison" (Alice Cooper - #2, 1989)
26) "Evil Woman" (Electric Light Orchestra - #10, 1976)
27) "The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow)" (The Jam - #2, 1982)
28) "November Rain" (Guns N' Roses - #4, 1992)
29) "Send In The Clowns" (Judy Collins -# 6, 1975)
30) "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (The Righteous Brothers - #1, 1965)

1) "Without You" (Harry Nilsson - #1, 1972)
2) "Haitian Divorce" (Steely Dan -#17, 1977)
3) "Paranoid" (Black Sabbath - #4, 1970)

There. Buckets of human suffering, misery, and anger - all packaged in a wide variety of song styles to ensure there's something for (nearly) everyone. And you can dance to most of them - what more could anyone possibly want?

Now, who knows someone who's getting married sometime soon? Might just have to get me a band together....

p.s. Big kudos to the incredible labour of love that is ChartStats for being a scarily comprehensive (and fascinating) data source.

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