“If we got married, what would our first dance be?”
It’s a complicated question, with a complicated answer and probably not the best to even ask whilst you’re consumed in the domestic drudgery of washing up after lunch. But it’s a question I had to ask, not because either of us have any intention of getting married right now - after something like 18 years and 2 kids it seems almost pointless, but because for (probably) all sorts of deep psychological reasons, that I don't understand, I’m fascinated with what song we would choose.
“I have no idea,” she said. “You’d be too afraid of selecting something cheesy.”
She was right of course.
Music, just like a long term relationship, is complicated.
I definitely have songs, or even bands, that remind me of certain people, especially from when I was younger. Whenever I think of my first true love I’ll think of obscure Fleet based indie-pop-ska-skiffle group Jim Jiminee (see this link for more of that story). Then if I ever hear She's A Star by Manchester band James I’ll instantly be taken to thoughts of the one that got away (see link here). Then there’s David Gray and Please Forgive Me, a song that I share with a too often too distant wonderful friend (here). But for the two of us, despite a whole host of memories, there is no one song. We're not sure what the first song we ever danced together to was, but there's a nagging suspicion it was a Daft Punk tune. Would that work at a wedding? Probably not.
Maybe there's no one song because when you’re young and full of turbulent emotions music doesn’t just light a spark, but sets off a fire that burns bright into the heart? The songs seem more important then than anything else in the world. My girlfriend says that the band Crowded House take her back to a holiday with friends in New Zealand, and Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chilli Peppers reminds her of a time working one summer in America. I remember hearing James Blunt's You're Beautiful so many times on one particular holiday we had together on the Balearic Islands that I wanted to punch the man in the face very hard, so much did I detest it. So that one probably wouldn't work as 'our song' would it?
But as you get older and life becomes more of a blur, your emotions level out a little and especially if you’re like me, surrounded by music so much of the time, it becomes difficult to define life by a soundtrack, even more so by one song. Whereas in the past I wanted to divide my life by musical moments, now that idea is too simple – how can a pop song capture not only the black and whites of life, but the tangled shades of grey?
It’s possibly why the question I hate more than any other is the ‘what’s your favourite band?’ Or worse, the ‘what’s your favourite album / song of all time?’ I find that impossible to answer. I simply don’t have one. There are too many songs, too many bands that make up my complex relationship with music. Maybe human relationships are like that as well? Or rather long term ones - they’re not simple or easy. It’s not all just flowers, chocolates, fun nights out, raging passionate sex and romance. Life isn’t an Ed Sheeran song (apparently his song Thinking Out Loud was one of 2015’s most popular first dances), as I've said before, it's complicated.
Maybe if we ever did get married we’d just choose Radiohead’s Punch Up At A Wedding and be done with it. At least it might get a laugh. Or maybe we would just use our combined inability to choose ‘our song’ as an excuse for continuing to live unmarried.