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30 songs in (almost) 30 days: day 23

June 20, 2011

day 23 – a song that you want to play at your wedding: The Magnetic Fields: The Book of Love

This was one of the few categories for which I knew exactly which song I would use. And strangely, it isn’t a song from my actual wedding.

There was a lot of music at my actual wedding. I’m a musician. Most of my friends are musicians. I rented an organ from the orchestra I worked for. My boss, the conductor of said orchestra, played it. A bunch of my friends formed a choir and my friend J, who sang with me in a professional church choir, rehearsed and conducted it. I chose all of the music carefully. I knew it all well. I wrote and harmonized the psalm tune myself. We picked a setting of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” for the hymn, as we figured it was the only one that both the Catholics and the Protestants would know. The rest of the music was all choral music close to my heart. I had sung and conducted each piece many times before:

The Alleluia from the end of Victoria’s “O magnum mysterium”:

“Sicut cervus” by Palestrina, which I had always loved but which I found spiritually transforming when performed impromptu in a circle inside the Rothko Chapel in Houston on a choir tour.

“Set me as a seal” by William Walton (featuring blog delinquent Siren as soloist)

“Ave Maria” by Victoria, which was the first piece the choir I founded ever sang together and the encore piece for every concert.

At the cocktail hour, my friend L played viola with my friend C on cello. And I’ve already talked about the dance music. I loved all of it, especially because it was friends playing.

But if I were going to pick a rock song today to represent us at a wedding, there is no question that it would be “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields.

It’s one of the rare songs I love for its lyrics:

The book of love is long and boring
No one can lift the damn thing
It’s full of charts and facts and figures
And instructions for dancing

But I, I love it when you read to me
And you, you can read me anything.

The book of love has music in it
In fact, that’s where music comes from
Some of it is just transcendental
Some of it is just really dumb

But I, I love it when you sing to me
And you, you can sing me anything.

The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It’s full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we’re all too young to know.

But I, I love it when you give me things
And you, you ought to give me wedding rings.

It’s a simple song, but somehow it feels like it’s captured us — books and music, romance and hardship, “some of it is just transcendental, some of it is just really dumb.” It’s just that kind of song.

What songs did/would you play at your wedding?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2011 3:57 pm

    I had a string quartet comprised of friends and music teachers, and they played the Pachelbel Canon. I know they played other pieces, too (having spent one entire evening playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik over and over, I know I asked them to play more than just that one), but I can’t remember what else. It was the summer of 1982.

  2. June 21, 2011 2:19 pm

    I love the Book of Love. And despite having listened to it a lot, I have NEVER before read the lyrics. I never listen to the lyrics, except odd fragments. Something about the way my brain is wired.

  3. June 24, 2011 12:38 pm

    Coming back to say that this post sort of inspired me to write about the music that was at my wedding…

  4. June 24, 2011 1:34 pm

    Magpie, it is very unusual for me to pay this kind of attention to lyrics if I’m not actually performing the piece. But for some reason, this one kind of got me. But I am generally exactly the same way and half the time can’t even figure out the name of a song. And thanks for posting about your own wedding music!

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