Ask A DJ – Know Your Lyrics

Ask A DJ – Know Your Lyrics

In a discussion I had recently with one of my DJ employees, he asked me if I thought the song ‘Just A Gigolo’ by Louis Prima (and later re-done by David Lee Roth) was appropriate for a wedding, and my answer – as cliche as it might seem – was “If you question it, then the answer is no.”

Now certainly if it were a request of the bride & groom, it should be played, but I would pose the question of it’s appropriateness in the context of a wedding.  Perhaps if it were used during a garter toss to connotate ‘the single guys’ then yes, but I certainly wouldn’t want to play a song that might infer the Groom was gigolo, or a ‘player of women’ at his wedding.

As a DJ for over twenty years, and somewhat of a music aficianado, knowing lyrics is second nature to me.  When I sit down with a bride and groom or a mitzvah client or any client for that matter to discuss music I see myself as the person they are trusting in for guidance, and sometimes it is important to illustrate for them why a particular song choice may not be the best choice, and 99% of the time it’s pointing out something in the lyrics.

A great example that I cannot soon forget is that of a bride and groom requesting the song ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael as their first dance (you know, the ‘bride and groom’ dance that happens at the beginning of the reception).  When they asked I paused for a moment, and then asked if they wouldn’t mind my taking a moment to excuse myself from the meeting for a moment so that I might print out a copy of the lyrics for them to review.  Here is a short excerpt of what i printed…

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor
As the music dies, something in your eyes
Calls to mind a silver screen and all those sad goodbyes

I’m never gonna dance again
Cause guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool

I should have known better than to cheat a friend
And waste the chance that I’d been given
So I’m never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
And there’s no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you’ll find

Essentially, the song is about a relationship where someone cheated.  Don’t get me wrong, musically it’s a great song, it was a popular hit and it’s pretty good to slow dance to, but in the context of starting off your marriage with a first dance to a song about cheating, it’s probably not such a great idea.  When the bride read the lyrics the look on her face spoke volumes, and the two of them chose another song.  The same idea goes for so many other songs as well.  ‘Let’s Get It On’ by Marvin Gaye may be risque for a bride & groom’s first dance, but how awkward would it be as a father/daughter or mother/son dance?

Take some time to think about your song choices.  Most song lyrics can be found on the internet using Yahoo, Google, or some other search engine.  Check out your song and its lyrics before making it a song of significance, and if you aren’t sure about the artist or title, ask your DJ.  A good DJ should always be an invaluable resource for you regarding song choices, if not at the very least a second opinion.

-Craig

www.cuttingedgedjs.com





7 Responses

  1. I was laughing to myself as I read this post because it is so true. I have been in the same situation myself several times with clients, and even as a guest at some weddings sitting in my chair thinking “Are they really dancing to this” 🙂

  2. Thanks for writing about this. I just recently stumbled across your blog and I’ve enjoyed reading. Remember when Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” was a popular wedding song? I never understood it because it’s a breakup song!

  3. Hi Craig,

    I am the co-owner of Elegant Event Entertainment,Inc. a DJ and Event Planning firm in Los Angeles and I am so glad someone pointed me to your Blog. This particular article resonated with me because I have experienced this numerous times with clients. As far as lyrics go, we try to politely educate our clients when a song seems to be mismatched with the tone of the event. I think it’s safe to say that many songs that people love are misunderstood. Like poetry and fine art, the surface might seem beautiful but the meaning is often very different than the tone might imply at first glance or in the case of songs, the first time you hear them. In an event as important as a First Dance or Father/Daughter, Mother/Son dance, it’s a great idea to Print the lyrics to the songs you are considering. Go check out my Blog on Choosing the Father Daughter Dance and Planning the First Dance, with a list of recent Songs we’ve played at Weddings, chosen by our clients.
    Thanks for this and other articles, I plan to follow your Blog. Great work Craig, I’m glad to know there are other DJs who “get it”

    Cheers,

    Jason

  4. Tony Azzaro

    I am fortunate to have been trained under Craig and the rest of the staff here at Cutting Edge for many years, and I believe that this is a very important part of what a DJ does. You are not only representing yourself and the company to others, but representing your client as well. Your song choices reflect them in the eyes of the guests and you never know who could be there. Just because a song is popular doesn’t mean it is appropriate. As a MC/DJ who does numerous events such as Sweet 16s, etc. for younger kids, I have refused to play certain songs due to their content. I am not saying I am on any type of higher moral ground than others, but I do believe in maintaining a certain level of class and professionalism on the job.

  5. This post made me laugh, since I’m constantly amazed by inappropriate feature dance requests. The Righteous Brothers – You’ve LOST that Lovin’ Feeling, was a classic example. Or Brown Eyed Girl as a Father/Daughter dance! “Making love in the green grass” indeed!

    How about stalker anthem “Every Breath You Take”? Strokin’ by Clarence Carter? Pretty much every song Prince wrote in the 80s?

    I’m not a fan of censoring music, but there’s a time and a place! Hehe….

  6. Amy DeLosso

    I whole heartedly agree, my latest for a montage, the Mom requested “Rockstar” by Nickelback. I asked her to reconsider as they sing about having drug dealers on speed dial – and popping pills from a Pez Dispenser.
    “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston was another request from a parent. Suicidal.

    50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” for the Grand entrance of the Bar Mitzvah boy because his theme was candy – I blushed!

    Some people just hear the title and think that’s the whole song.

    I implore parents – search out the lyrics. Don’t trust the title of a song.

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