Wednesday, September 22, 2010

They're Playing Our Song

Photo: Bill Youngblood
In the spring of 1999, my groom Charlie and I were planning our wedding which would take place on September 23, 2000. This was my first marriage.  I was well past my ingenue years and, even as a teenager and young adult, I'd never dreamed about getting married or having a wedding.  So I was surprised when I wanted a wedding, a traditional one with all the pomp and ceremony.

As the larger decisions--ceremony, reception, music, food, attire--came together, we began to consider the smaller details. One detail turned out to be not so small. What song did we want for our first dance as husband and wife?  We didn't have an "our song." The thought of an "our song" was so romantic and classic, so Bogie and Bacall, so Tracy and Hepburn, so Liz and Dick. How does a couple get one, make the decision that this is our song? It's not something you just pick out of the vinyl-coated, buffalo-wings-grease-smeared pages of a karoke song book. 
Vintage 1950s cake topper I bought on eBay.
Photo: Bill Youngblood.

I decided to be practical. Forget about "our song." While we loved to dance, we'd never taken those ballroom dancing lessons we'd always talked about and were too busy to start so a swing tune like "Fly Me to the Moon" was out. I began scouting around for something easy to dance to. I also wanted something classy and that hadn't been done to death.  No "Love Me Tender." No "From this Moment On." No "How Deep is Your Love." No. No. No. Love "Moon River," but cripes, too slow. And I wanted the song for our first dance to mean something. Even if it wasn't the elusive "our song," it had to be a great song.

One weekend, we went to La Jolla, California. Charlie had a business meeting nearby and we splurged on a stay at the La Valencia Hotel. Yes, it's as wonderful as it looks.  That evening, we sat in the lobby bar where there was a piano singer--a dying breed. He started playing and singing a song that made me sit straighter.  What was that tune?  I'd heard it before, but hadn't really paid attention to it. Now, I was enthralled, especially when my husband-to-be spontaneously started singing along:

"I can only give you country walks in springtime,
and a hand to hold when leaves begin to fall.
And a love whose burning light,
Will warm a winter's night..."

The lyrics expressed what we felt about each other. The melody was memorable and... easy to dance to.  I asked Charlie, "What's that song?" He turned to me and sang, "That's all.  That's all..."

I've since learned that "That's All" was written in 1952 and has been recorded by many greats including Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Bobby Darin.

Our first dance to "That's All." Photo: Bill Youngblood.
Ever since, whenever we're lucky to find a place with a great piano singer, we always request "That's All."  We listen, misty eyed. Sometimes we dance. I love it so much that when I dedicated The First Cut, the first in my Detective Nan Vining series, and Love Kills, the fourth, to Charlie, I included a homage to "That's All."

So, here's our song, for you Charlie.  Happy tenth anniversary, sweetheart.

My favorite version is by Mel Torme, but I also love this classic version sung by Edie Adams on the "I Love Lucy" series finale in 1960. 

Here's a lovely rendition by Cynthia Lin on ukulele that she performed at her sister's wedding.