Friday, August 19, 2011

2001: The Wedding Song

Charlie Robison (with Natalie Maines): The Wedding Song


The Wedding Song is a duet, and it came out on a major label from their Nashville division. So you would expect a lush production with a wall of strings, and you would expect to hear a couple proclaiming their undying love for each other. What you get is evidence of why Charlie Robison probably should never have been on a major country label, despite the fact that the album made a respectable showing on the country charts.

At the time of this song’s release, Charlie Robison had been married to Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks for two years, but his duet partner here is Emily’s bandmate Natalie Maines. To the ear, The Wedding Song is indeed a love ballad, based on an acoustic guitar, and sweetened with pedal steel. Other than that, the production is refreshingly low key. But then there are the lyrics. Robison and Maines each sing one of the first two verses, and each of those verses starts with these lines:

“Well, you are still here,
And I am still here,
Whether I ever loved you is
Not perfectly clear.”

Hardly the stuff of romance. As I see it, there are two ways to read this. Maybe the song is about a couple whose lack of romance means that they are realistic about what they have, and therefore their marriage is likely to endure. Or maybe the song is a droll send-up of romantic love ballads. I have always felt that this kind of ambiguity is a mark of great songwriting, and I stand by that here.

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