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Marriage is one of humanity’s oldest institutions. And having songs and/or music at weddings is no doubt just as ancient. In modern times songs like The Carpenters’ “We’ve Only Just Begun” or Shania Twain’s “From This Moment On” are examples of positive songs that reflect on the hope of a couple starting their marital bliss. But some songs, which I came across on a web page called the Top 100 1970s Songs for Weddings, are real head-scratching ones. Let’s take a fun journey through ten of those songs.
“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (1978)
Okay, maybe the future bride and groom only ever listened to the first line of this one, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified, thinking I couldn’t live without you by my side…” Or maybe just that second line, but the rest of the song is all about surviving without someone, “I should have changed that stupid lock, I should have made you leave your key!” Can you imagine asking a friend who just got back from his or her honeymoon, “Hey! How was it?” and they reply, “I survived.” Or, “How is married life treating you?” and you get a grim-faced reply, “I will survive.” Good luck with that as a marriage theme.
“Brown Sugar” by The Rolling Stones (1971)
“Brown Sugar” is a classic song that seemingly never gets old, but it’s also a song about slavery and rape. There are so many questionable lines in this song just as a song but as a wedding song? Consider some of the lyrics, “Skydog slaver knows he’s doin’ all right, hear him whip the women, just around midnight,” or, “Lady of the house wonderin’ when it’s gonna stop…” among others, and try to figure why anyone would want this as a wedding song. Or perhaps it’s just the lines, “Brown sugar, how come you taste so good, brown sugar, just like a black girl should?” Even so, one has to wonder what particular part of this song would portend a happy marital life.
“Hotel California” by The Eagles (1976)
“Hotel California” is supposed to be about a lot of things, such as drug addiction and excess in America. Some even think it’s about an insane asylum, but there’s not one line that suggests a life of marital bliss. Why would a couple want to enter into the institution of marriage with lines such as, “They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast,” or “I had to find the passage back to the place I was before,” or “You can check out anytime you like but you can never leave,” echoing through their heads? Or maybe they get no further than, “Such a lovely place, such a lovely face.” But then again, with divorce so common in this day and age, maybe you can find the passage back and check out and leave. Or maybe not.
“Highway to Hell” by ACϟDC (1979)
Hmmm. Do we even need to go here? Just imagine, if you will, going to a wedding and the happy couple standing at the altar having this song played? The title alone makes you wonder what someone is thinking to have this song at their wedding. If they were Satanists and dressed in his and hers red jumpsuits, complete with horns and pointy tails, then it would be a great song. Yes indeed. Do we even need to examine the lyrics to this classic rocker? Although, in all fairness, “I’m on the way to the promised land,” could conceivably qualify as a decent line. Some of the infamous celebrity marriages do come to mind when you think of this title, but surely they didn’t go into it planning on a fiery torment from day one!
“Y.M.C.A.” by The Village People (1978)
It’s not hard to see the future of this marriage if the hubby spends all his time at the Y, where, “They have everything for you men to enjoy, you can hang out with all the boys, it’s fun to stay at the YMCA.” Isn’t the whole point of marriage, so that you don’t have to hang out at the YMCA? And if hanging out with the boys is your thing, why get married in the first place? And it should be safe to say that they don’t have everything for men to enjoy down at the Y, such as a blushing bride. This is a song more suited for long-time-married men wanting to get away from the wife for a while. So, perhaps it could be a prophetic song…just not in a good way.
“Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon (1978)
This is a great, fun song for almost any occasion, but as a wedding song…not so much. What woman would want to start life with, “A hairy-handed gent who ran amok in Kent,” who, “Lately, has been overheard in Mayfair, you better stay away from him, he’ll rip your lungs out, Jim?” And what about, “A little old lady got mutilated late last night?” Sounds like a perfect recipe for an abusive relationship (think Julianne Hough in Safe Haven, or at the very least a high maintenance project). But, hey, if you’re a lady werewolf looking for a mate, a hairy-handed gent might be right up your alley. Again, it’s a great, fun song, but maybe not a great wedding song for your average couple.
“Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees (1977)
The first few lines of this song might be well suited to a certain kind of man, but should be a red flag warning to a potential bride, “Well you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk, music loud and women warm, I’ve been kicked around since I was born…” And if that’s not bad enough, the man is eventually belting out despair in the form of, “Life goin’ nowhere, somebody help me, somebody help me, yeah.” So, here you are, married to a lady’s man, who likes his music loud, and his women warm asking somebody to help him. Like maybe a marriage counselor? Or maybe his life is going nowhere, and he needs a wife to help him out of the rut? Hopefully, that’s it. But hey, could be they just like the song and never even listened to the words.
“Just What I Needed” by The Cars (1978)
Again, not to beat a dead horse, but do people listen to the words to these songs? Seriously? This is a great song, but how could someone want to start their life together with the words, “I don’t mind you comin’ here, and wastin’ all my time, cause when you’re standin’ oh so near, I kinda lose my mind?” If standing near him causes him to lose his mind, ladies, shouldn’t that be a good thing instead of a waste of time? And what about once the brain fog clears? Where do you stand then? Definitely not anywhere close, wasting his time, as he’ll probably be down at the YMCA hanging with the dudes, where there are lots of fun things to do that aren’t a waste of time. Or, more likely, to quote KISS, “Beth, I hear you calling, but I can’t come home right now, me and the boys are playing, and we just can’t find the sound.” Another song that wouldn’t make a good wedding song.
“Paradise By The Dashboard” Light by Meatloaf (1977)
Where to even start with this one? It’s easy to imagine a happy couple and the guests listening to, say, “Baby, Come To Me,” or “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You,” but what couple could gaze starry-eyed at one another through this marathon of a song? And the steamy-window lyrics? Well, at least they do eventually come to a proposal, of sorts when she frantically pants, “Will you make me happy for the rest of my life, will you take me away, and will you make me your wife?” And when he finally agrees and gets his way, what is his response? Over-the-moon bliss? No, it’s, “I’m praying for the end of time, it’s all that I can do, praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you…” Just goes to prove that marriage is often the first step toward divorce.
“My Sharona” by The Knack (1979)
And then there’s “My Sharona,” an infectious little song with killer chords that makes you want to shake your whole body. It would be great for the reception if there’s dancing but as a wedding song? “Ooh my little pretty one, pretty one, when you gonna give me some time, Sharona, Ohh you make my motor run, my motor run, gun it comin’ off the line, never gonna stop, give it up…” Hmm. A bit racy, but if you’re marrying a young lady named Sharona, then…okay. But when you come to, “Such a dirty mind. Always get it up for the touch, of the younger kind…” not so much. Sounds a bit creepy once he gets a little older. But as long as he keeps his bride as his only younger kind, and doesn’t have a wandering eye, maybe it’s not such a bad song after all.
There you have it, a lighthearted look at just a few of the songs from the 70s that are played at weddings, that make you wonder if people ever listen to a song’s words, or if they just love a particular song. We would be happy to hear some of your thoughts on your own pet peeves when it comes to wedding songs that make you scratch your head. Or, even better – your thoughts if you agree with any or all of these songs as great wedding songs.
Be sure to check out the full archives of Vinylstalgia, by Layne Partin, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/vinylstalgia-archives/