Friday, November 30, 2007

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Five years and one week ago I was lucky enough to marry my high school sweetheart -- the past, present, and future love of my life. Heck, she was practically my junior high sweetheart, for crying out loud. Jenna and I met in the 8th grade in Elmhurst, IL, a suburb 18 miles straight west from Chicago; she the cool public school kid and I the Catholic school dork with a bowl haircut. We met in the theatre, as all good relationship stories begin -- in the Elmhurst Children's Theatre 1991 production of a dumbed-down version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I was Filby, the time-traveling supergenius, and she was Agatha, Filby's secretary, who had a hidden, burning desire for her employer. Jenna and I had grown up just a few short blocks from each other (though on opposite sides of a busy street), but had never crosssed paths until then. We carpooled to rehearsals together and came to be quite good friends, though our friendship didn't progress past anything show-related, at the time. I had no problem talking to girls but had no idea how the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing worked, so that never crossed my, she was a "public"! Scandalous! I forsook the whole God thing and became a public myself for high school (York Dukes!), where Jenna and I shared honors English classes and quickly became very good friends again (see perhaps earliest known picture of us, at left, circa 1993?). Sophomore year we did a group project together on the novel The Scarlet Letter, which kicked off a many-months- long stretch of talking on the phone together almost nightly. Still, I didn't know how to broach the relationship thing...I despised and refused to say the stupid words "Will you go out with me?", but saying that seemed to be the only way to become an "official" couple. Eventually she got tired of waiting for me to step up to the plate, and she went out with some other dude. I then beat that guy up and won her heart -- oh, wait, nope, that didn't happen. Interestingly, a few months later, midway through the first semester of junior year, I somehow got the gusto to ask the silly question of another young lass. Jenna and I, much to the chagrin of my friend-who-was-a-girl, remained close-ish friends and classmates. Nine months or so later, I was "single" again, and the very next day after the break-up Jenna and I just automagically gravitated towards each other and went out for ice cream, and that was that ... we've been together ever since. We count the last week of August 1995 as the beginning of our "official" relationship. From there, life and the whims of youth have taken us for quite an exciting ride, where we've done everything a bit out of order (just the way we like it) ...first came baby, then moving in together in Champaign, then both graduating from the UofI, then the start of real job and grad school, then the wedding, then the minivan purchase, then two more kiddos and a house purchase in betwixt. It's been, and continues to be, quite a fun adventure, and I'm so fortunate to be tag-teaming through life as the small annoying Asian boy (Short Round?) to Jenna's Indiana Jones.

Jenna, thanks for everything in my life. You are an incredible woman, which encompasses so many other titles that you excel at: wife, partner, lover, friend, daughter, sister, teacher, etc....and, most importantly I know, mom. I love you. Happy Five Years.


It seems that in every picture ever taken of Jenna and I together, she looks great and I look like a total schmo (see examples above and below). I'm beginning to wonder now if that's just a perfect representation of real life.

(above: senior year homecoming '95 | graduation '96 | end of the wedding, Nov 23, 2002)
(below: jan '96 | late '95/early '96 | sept '97, the very mature-looking parents of a 1-year-old | aug '02, few months before the wedding | june '07, me still a stooge after all these years)


We had one hell of a wedding, I must admit. We were only the second couple ever married in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana (as far back as anyone can remember, at least). They didn't allow weddings for the general public at the time (they do now), but we got the hook-up since I worked and went to school there. Our wedding save-the-date is at right (click to enlarge).

We knew from early on exactly what "party favor" we wanted to give to all our guests at the wedding: a CD of music that had played a role in our relationship or that we just plain dug. Since this is supposed to be a music blog (though it hasn't seemed like it much recently!), below you'll find the complete track listing along with the original liner notes (with some updated tweaks) from our wedding CD entitled Merrily We Roll Along: Jenna and David's Big Adventure (The Soundtrack). Also, as a special bonus, if you act now you'll find links to many of the songs themselves! Remember, if the title of a song is underlined, you can either left click on it to listen to a full Mp3 of it, or right click and "Save As" to save a full copy of the Mp3 to your very own computer (Mac users, I'm not sure what you do, sorry!). For others, just hit the play button to listen to it. Heck, if you'd like a copy of the full CD for your very own, I'd love to send you one in the mail, if you ask real nice-like.

Merrily We Roll Along: Jenna and David's Big Adventure (The Soundtrack)

Click on the underlined song titles to listen!

1. Prologue (from the musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change)
One of our favorite musicals…a modern & musical look at relationships, from first date through death. Great music, and completely hilarious.

2. The Time Machine Tango (Jenna & David)
David is Filby, the time-traveling wonder genius. Jenna is Agatha, his trusty secretary with a poorly-hidden passion for her employer. When these two dynamic forces collide onstage, watch out! Sparks fly as Jenna and David, vintage 1991, work their magic, backed by Fatboy Slim’s Praise You. Remix put together at Krannert Center's audio department. Odds are no one but David will find this even remotely listenable or interesting.

3. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack)
Without any doubt, one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Our friend Daniel Reichard (from David’s University of Michigan days…) sang and played this at the wedding. We knew from the moment that we started planning the wedding that we wanted Dan to sing this song. A beautiful song sung by a beautiful talent.

4. Come What May (from the film Moulin Rouge)
The best song from perhaps the greatest film ever made (you are wrong if you think otherwise). Our first dance song…we both knew it from the first moment we heard this song in the movie. Truly a wonderful song.

5. I Was Made to Love Her (Stevie Wonder)
Everything about this song is happy. David loves this song primarily for the backup singer’s “oooo, hey hey hey”. Not sure why…but again, it just makes us happy!

6. Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael)
Everyone has sung a version of this song, but this is the original, as sung by its writer, Hoagy Carmichael, on his Hong Kong Blues album. David’s Uncle Brian gave him a Hoagy cassette as a gift back in junior high…and now David is proud to be perhaps the only 20-something who knows who Hoagy Carmichael is. We also love this song as sung by Nat King Cole in the soundtrack of Sleepless in Seattle. As one of Jenna’s favorite CDs, that soundtrack was prevalent throughout the beginnings of our relationship in high school. (at right, our wedding in the lobby of the Krannert Center)

7. It Takes Two (from Into the Woods; words/music by Stephen Sondheim)
One of Jenna’s favorite musicals by Jenna’s favorite lyricist/composer (and namesake of one of our cats!), Stephen Sondheim. Jenna has always loved this musical since seeing the original cast on Broadway way back in the late 80s. During senior year of high school, Jenna and David did an Honor’s English group project about this musical, performing scenes together in class. This song was one of our readings at the wedding, read by David’s Aunt Beckie.

8. I am the Pirate King (from the musical The Pirates of Penzance; by Gilbert & Sullivan)
The role that David just won’t stop talking about ... this is David singing his character-defining song from his favorite musical, The Pirates of Penzance. York did this show our junior year, and David hasn’t gotten over it yet. Though he does sound slightly flat at times during this song, be assured that that was done on purpose to keep the piratical authenticity…and it was the orchestra’s fault, of course. If you listen closely, you may be able to hear our good friend Matt Hill yo-ho-hoing and “arrrg”ing away in the background.

9. Come By Me (Harry Connick Jr.)
A great song by one of our favorite singer/songwriters. Jenna has always loved both Harry and his music, and David likes Harry’s hair and wants to be Harry when he grows up. It was very difficult picking out just one Harry song for this CD, because we like all of it.

10. In My Life (The Beatles)
David has been a huge Beatles fan since his mom and Uncle Al first introduced the post-1965 Beatles to him in junior high. This song, from their Rubber Soul album, is a really important song with a great message, and has personal significance because David and fellow groomsman Wade Wegner sang this at our high school graduation ceremony. This song was played on the piano by Daniel Reichard while Jenna walked down the aisle.

11. What A Wonderful World (Louie Armstrong)
This was the first song that we played for Madeline after bringing her home from the hospital….we thought it rather appropriate and lovely. Rather cheesy, yes, but lovely.

12. Time after Time (Amazin’ Blue, U of Michigan a capella group)
We really like this song as sung and originally written by Cyndi Lauper. However, this version of the song is much better! David’s friend Anna Gleichauf, of Michigan fame, leads Amazin’ Blue, everyone’s favorite collegiate a capella group, in this version, with Maddy Wyatt singing in the background! Yippy!

13. Best of My Love (The Emotions)
This is a song from an album that is played constantly in our home…the Boogie Nights soundtrack. We love this movie ... not the happiest or most family-friendly film ever made, but it’s quality darnit! The soundtrack is particularly fabulous.

14. With You (from the musical Pippin)
Pippin is a fabulous musical…one of our favorites. Jenna grew up listening to this music, and David was first introduced to it while at Michigan, by his friend Eric Jackson. This song was another reading at our wedding, read by Jenna’s coolest uncle and godfather, Sean.

15. UofI Alma Mater (The University of Illinois Marching Illini)
This is the vocal version of the mighty U of I Fight Song, which has inspired us through many Illini football and basketball tragedies. Since we were engaged in New Orleans while there to see the Illini lose horrifically to LSU in the Sugar Bowl, we figured it to be appropriate to have this song on the CD. Also, our friend Grace and David have started their own Fightin' Illini tradition, honoring former basketball mediocrity Victor Chukwudebe. To join in the tradition, replace the lyrics "Victory, Illinois, Varsity" with his name! It totally works! We hope to have a whole stadium of people singing his name before we leave this town. On the psuedo-timeline- of-sorts that this CD is following, this song marks our moving in together in Champaign and our time spent at the University.

16. Catch a Falling Star (Perry Como)
We are big Perry Como fans, which some people may find to be rather strange. But, if you really give him a chance, you will be assimilated. David first came to love Perry Como while working on Forever Plaid in Chicago, in which this song is sung. David’s mother bought him a 2-disc Perry Como collection for Christmas, after debating whether to purchase Perry or the Beastie Boys for her son ... an interesting quandary.

17. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Elvis Presley)
Not too many people know this song, even though it is included on Elvis’ Golden Records album. Very cool and upbeat tune. We were privileged enough to take part in a pilgrimage to the Elvis Mecca (Graceland, of course) on our way down to New Orleans, a few days pre-engagement … certainly a life-changing experience for us both. David suprised Jenna by singing this song to her at the wedding, complete with back-up singers (Celia, Maddy, and Emily from UMich), a pianist (groomsman Wade from high school & college), and drummer (Corey from UIllinois).

18. Don’t Rain On My Parade (Barbra Streisand, from the musical and film Funny Girl) -- see video at bottom of this post
Oooo this is a fun song. Barbra just plain works it. Madeline and David have a short dance routine to this tune. Jenna joins us if we’re lucky.

19. Unexpected Song (Betty Buckley, from the musical Song and Dance) -- download
Yet another great song ... you are probably getting bored of us saying how great every song is ... sorry! Betty Buckley, star of stage and screen, performed at the Krannert Center a few years back, and David worked with her during the performance, falling in love with her in the process. She has one of the best voices of all time, yo.

20. Take a Chance On Me (ABBA)
Our good friend Grace Godwin first let us borrow the ABBA Gold CD. Thank you Grace. Seriously, even if you hate ABBA, you will love this CD ... or perhaps just hate them even more. At any rate, we dig ‘em!

21. (Love is) The Tender Trap (Frank Sinatra & Count Basie)
Another great song off of a great album ... one of David’s favorites combinations, Sinatra & Basie. David first heard this tune in music theory class at Michigan, and borrowed the CD from the TA. We are Sinatra and jazz fans ... it doesn’t get any better than this song.

22. The Origin of Love (from the musical Hedwig & the Angry Inch)
This is a beautiful song about love from a really bizarre but brilliant rock musical, Hedwig & the Angry Inch. We just discovered this musical and this song within the past six months, and thought that this song would be a great addition to the CD.

23. Papa's Got A Brand New Bag (James Brown)
There isn’t much personal significance to this song ... only that it is a great song to dance to and that this CD needed another upbeat song!

24. An Old-Fashioned Wedding (from the musical Annie Get Your Gun)
A lovely song about weddings from the musical by Irving Berlin.

25. All You Need is Love (The Beatles)
More Beatles. This was played at the end of our wedding, as everyone exited the ceremony.

26. Everything's Coming Up Roses (Ethel Merman, from the musical Gypsy) -- download
While debating what to use for a recessional song at the end of the wedding, we suddenly came up with this tune. Perfection! Totally hokey and cheesy, but this sort of cheesy equals happy, and that’s just what we were looking for! Not a traditional choice perhaps, but definitely one that reflects us.

27. Oskee-Wow-Wow (the University of Illinois Marching Illini)
Ok, just for kicks, a quick song to end…this theme (no, we have no idea what the title means) is played incessantly at all Illini sporting events. Now you can play it yourself for all your favorite events! Enjoy!

So, hope y'all enjoyed the peek into our lives through the magical world of music. If we made the CD today, certainly there would be a few changes (would have to include Sufjan and/or Andrew Bird of course!), but the songs above are a great representation of our lives at the time. There is also a second CD of J&D wedding hits, with a bunch of songs we played pre- and, wedding.

At left: The York HS friend contingent, consisting of the wonderful peeps we've known since '92 and, some, much earlier. Including groomsmen Wade Wegner and John Walsh, and maid of honor Lauren Dolan. We love them all, except Boosh. They've been with us since the beginning and before, and we'd be different people without them in our lives. Maybe better people, but different nonetheless. ah ha ha.
At right: The UMich MT contingent, consisting of two brilliant Tony Award nominees/winners (Celia Keenan-Bolger at left and Daniel Reichard middle), a kickass indie rock/folk songstress who plays all over the greater NYC area (Maddy Wyatt), and the rockin' renaissance woman Emily Whyte. (yes, I'm a bastard name-dropper) All four contributed their music to the wedding, Daniel playing piano and singing during the processional and the three ladies singing backup on the Elvis tune. Note that despite my best efforts I still look like a damned fool in this picture. My hair that day was just a disaster.
Not pictured: Want to be sure to give a shout-out to our best man, Chris Hillbruner, who is currently saving the good people of Ulan Bator, Mongolia (seriously), after we flew him in from the Peace Corps in the Phillipines for the wedding. Also, I'd be remiss not to mention that our now-11-year-old daughter, Madeline, was our flower girl/ring-bearer, which was so wonderful. Not everyone gets to have their daughter in their wedding!

** Thanks to our friend Cornie for the artsy-fartsy picture of us at our wedding, at the top.

Below: Barbra Streisand - "Don't Rain On My Parade" [1975 TV special video]

1 comment:

Leeanthro said...

Congratulations! What a long, meandering road you two have together.

BTW: Mac Users can control click and then either open in iTunes or download the file.