Answer me one simple question: If you are currently in a relationship with someone, do the two of you have ‘a song’?
I don’t mean something you’ve made up between you to sing together, as that would be weird. I mean a song recorded by an actual artist or group, usually of the ballad variety, which you and your partner have adopted as a symbol of your undying love for each other, and sickeningly refer to as ‘our song’ when in public.
Why, in the name of all things sacred, do couples feel the need to have their own song? It’s not like other people will associate it with you, unless you both go around playing or singing it all day, and if that is the case, they probably hate you anyway.
Besides, unless you have personally written and recorded the song (which, let’s face it, is not only unlikely, but it would be even weirder if you then insisted that your partner accept it as the soundtrack to your relationship), then it’s not ‘yours’ anyway. It can’t be your song (unless, of course, it actually IS Your Song by Elton John, although I don’t think he intended the title to be taken quite so literally, and would surely fight you for any royalties – presumably on a Saturday night); so it is in fact someone else’s song, which you have then nicked because you are stupid and unoriginal. Of course, you probably just think that you’re being romantic.
In fact, couples who do have their own song, are usually so unoriginal that they share it with thousands of other couples, because there only seem to be a handful of tracks people typically choose from. I won’t suggest any, as I don’t want to offend anyone, but soft rock ballads tend to feature highly, because people assume that’s the sort of song they should choose, rather than picking something that actually means something. When was the last time you overheard someone excitedly announce: “Ooh, listen honey, they’re playing our song!” following the opening bars of Wait and Bleed by Slipknot? Exactly. But I’d have more respect for those people, as there is clearly a story behind the choice (pant-wettingly scary as it may ultimately turn out to be).
People will regularly try to out-romance other couples, by selecting the soppiest ballad that they can think of, rather than being original and actually choosing a song that represents their relationship in some way – even if others might think it a peculiar selection.
In fact, often it’s one half of the couple who chooses the song and informs everyone, whilst the other half is blissfully unaware that it’s even supposed to be their song in the first place. There is nothing funnier than hearing someone joyfully announce that their song is being played, only for their partner to look all confused and end up the recipient of a very un-romantic bollocking.
And at what point in a relationship should you choose a song? When is the right time? Clearly if you’ve been dating for a fortnight, and reveal to your new squeeze that you think the latest One Direction (s)hit should be your song, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself single come the morning. But is six months acceptable? One year? Two?
Conversely, when is it too late to choose your song? When has too much time passed, and selecting a soundtrack for your relationship now seems a little pointless and forced?
It’s bad enough when a couple haven’t been together long enough to justify having a song, but it’s even worse when they have been together for years, and still insist on being all mushy in the presence of others. Fortunately, I don’t think my wife and I are friends with any such people, as we have systematically removed them from our lives over the years like unwanted growths, but if we were to encounter a couple engaging in a spot of PDA (Public Display of Affection), I feel sure that one of us would respond with a timely PDV (Public Display of Violence), by throwing something heavy and blunt in their direction.
From this, you won’t be surprised to learn that my wife and I do not have ‘a song’ per se. We have songs and artists that remind us of each other, sure, but nothing that we would consider as an anthem of our time together. Besides, I struggle to narrow down my favourite songs to a top 20, let alone just the one, so we have no chance of finding something that we both agree with. She doesn’t even like Def Leppard.
Anyway, referring back to the ‘how long can you leave it before it is too late?’ question, I suspect as we approach our 11th wedding anniversary, and complete our 16th year as a couple, it is safe to say that the ‘song’ boat has well and truly sailed.
Still, it has got me thinking about what criteria you should apply when choosing a song, rather than just settling on the first soppy love song that you can think of, or what your BFF had for her first dance when she got married last week.
I have therefore given some careful consideration to this, and have decided that there are three important factors which you should take into account. I will illustrate each point with an example of the song my wife and I would choose, were we to now (very) belatedly decide that we needed our own song. Which we don’t.
1. When you first met
You could consider choosing a song that reminds you both of when you met, such as the track that was playing in a club when you first set your sweaty, drunken, eyes on each other (you can later omit the part about holding her hair back as she vomited on your shoes, if you like).
My wife and I met on our first day at University in 1998, and during Fresher’s Week the one memory that stands out is of her, along with a group of other girls from our Halls of Residence, drunkenly singing and dancing to the Grease Megamix on the kitchen table. Now, since the only music I dislike more than the Grease Megamix is anything by Abba, I think we can safely count this out.
Besides, I suspect this particular memory (which caused me to hide in my room and play cards with a few of the other lads, rather than brave the kitchen of drunken harpies), is not only un-romantic, and so a poor basis for choosing your song, but is also far more prevalent in my recollection of Fresher’s Week than it is in hers. In fact, I’d be surprised if she can remember it at all.
So, taking all that into consideration, I suppose the first song that my wife and I connected over, would be this:
2. The start of the relationship
Often, though, there is a period of time between first meeting your future partner, and the start of any relationship, and this is the case with us – about one year to be precise. So if I think back to what we were listening to when we first started dating, the album Utopia Parkway by Fountains of Wayne featured heavily, and for some reason the song Troubled Times (please don’t read too much into the title, or the lyrics for that matter) stands out in particular:
3. A significant event in your relationship
If anyone were to ask my wife and I what the single greatest day of our 16-or-so years together has been (so far), unlike many couples our wedding day wouldn’t even come close. The birth of our sons would be up there, definitely, and County winning at Wembley in 2008 would be a contender for me personally (although I fear it wouldn’t even make her top 10), but without question we would both come up with the same answer – the day we got Sky TV.
Obviously, having Ollie and Isaac were monumental turning points in our lives, but for sheer joy and excitement, nothing is going to top the novelty of having that many television channels at your disposal, and being able to watch beach volleyball at 3am.
For weeks after having Sky installed, we would spend whole evenings simply flicking through the vast array of music channels, and one song kept cropping up all the time:
Then, a few years ago (it was Christmas if I remember correctly), we were playing Singstar on the Playstation (which is a form of karaoke game if you weren’t aware), and decided to do a duet of The Reason for old time’s sake. Normally this would have been a disaster as, whilst my wife has a really good voice, my singing is often mistaken for a small child or animal in pain. However, singing The Reason that one Christmas, for a few blissful minutes, it just worked. In fact, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say we fucking nailed it. I don’t think I’ve ever loved her more than during that song, because she made me look good.
Of course, we then immediately ruined it by arrogantly attempting another duet in the form of Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and it wasn’t until half way through that we realised the reason it sounded awful was because she was singing Elton John’s part, and I was Kiki Dee. Nothing will kill a romantic vibe faster than imagining your wife as a balding male pianist.
We haven’t sung together since.
So there you have it. Three important factors that you should consider if you must insist on choosing a song for your relationship, assuming of course you haven’t left it too long like we have. You might even be able to adopt more than one of these criteria if you’re lucky.
In the end though, so long as you avoid choosing a song based on what other people might think, and actually put some thought into it, you probably can’t go too far wrong. It doesn’t matter if it’s an unusual genre, or might cause a few raised eyebrows. If it reflects your time together, symbolises your affection for one another, matches your sense of humour, makes you both smile, and just fits, then go for it.
That’s why, if my wife and I had to choose a song after all this time (and I just asked her to check she would come up with the same answer), there would be only one contender.