One of my best friends in the world got married this past weekend. As a gift for the newlyweds I wrote them a song. Here’s the story:
Last November, I went on a weekend road trip to Pittsburgh, the city where the engaged couple resided. Over the course of the 5 hour trek across Pennsylvania, I had a lot of time to think (it’s a pretty boring drive). I was thinking about my friend getting married, and how I wanted to do something special for him. In the past, I’ve heard of composers writing an original piece of instrumental music for a friend’s wedding (usual for the ceremony, because everyone could use a break from Pachelbel’s Canon). This is a concept I could get behind, and would take on the task as if I was scoring a film, except that it would be for a real event and not something on the screen. Obviously, I did not want to impose this idea on my friends. They might already have music picked out (Pachelbel or otherwise), or they could be uncomfortable with the proposition. I don’t like to make anyone feel obligated. So I put the idea aside, even though it excited me.
When I finally got to Pittsburgh, we spent the first night in a pretty relaxed fashion, catching up over drinks. They were filling me in on the known details of the wedding, and then began to solicit my opinion for musical selections. They played a recording of a song they were considering for the first dance – a song that I liked but honestly thought was a little too fast and energetic for that particular moment. They agreed with my assertion, at which point the bride-to-be blurted out, “well, why don’t you just write something for us?”
I had to accept, but with some reservations: I’m not actually a songwriter. In fact, I’m barely a composer. I’ve never written a pop song in my life, at least not from start to finish, and not without any sort of collaborative effort with someone who does know what they are doing. But, I did want to write something for their wedding, and these were the terms. My job was to compose a song for the first dance, where all eyes would be on the bride and groom, and all ears would be on the tune. Every musician dreams of having the undivided attention of an audience, right? I really didn’t want to screw it up.
The most difficult part in the process, by far, was writing the lyrics. As much as I love to read good books and listen to poetic songwriters, I am by no means a writer. But I started to think about the nature of their relationship, and a concept emerged: my friend is one of the most indecisive dudes I know. He overanalyzes, weighs all options, and generally second guesses himself as matter of habit (to prove my point, not only did I help him order the engagement ring one night last summer at 2 AM, hovering over a laptop after a night of heavy drinking, but I also had to forcefully nudge and guide him in writing his wedding vows only hours before the ceremony). Despite all of this indecisiveness, there was never any hesitation or doubt when he first told me that he was going to propose to his now wife. It was really the only part of the ordeal he was sure of. Thus, the song “I’m Sure” was written.
It was a tremendous honor to be a part of the wedding in this way, and to have such trust to make the song happen. I was nervous as a hell leading up to the first dance, but seeing the happy looks on the faces of the bride and groom made it all worth it.
I pulled on my generous network of friends, contacts, and musicians to do this recording. Here are the production credits:
Bass: Tim Wolfe, Jr.
Drums: Joe Shattls
Piano, organ, guitar: Brendan McGeehan
Produced, mixed, and mastered by Brendan McGeehan
The piano was recorded at Forge Recording in Oreland, PA. All other other layers were recorded in my apartment.