For our “first dance” song, the fiancé and I have chosen “Time After Time,” a sweet standard by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne. There wasn’t a lot of deliberation involved; really, it seemed like the song chose us. Early in our relationship, the fiancé pulled his copy of The Best of Chet Baker Sings for me, correctly guessing it would be a perfect intersection of my love of showtunes and standards and his love of jazz. I was already a Chet fan, thanks to TCM -- I’ve been known to turn on the TV in the morning just to catch their “Sunny Side of Life” intro, which features Chet’s version of “Look for the Silver Lining” -- and I particularly loved “Time After Time”; it felt like it was written with us in mind. The fiance felt the same way, so “our song” was settled well before we were even engaged.
Once our wedding went from hypothetical to imminent and we had to start making plans (have I mentioned that we have a wedding coming up?), we found ourselves at pains to clarify that we’ll be dancing to “Time After Time (Not the Cyndi Lauper Song).” I feel bad having to make this distinction, because Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” is marvelous in its own right. And every time I clarify that we will not be dancing to that song, I am forced to consider how awesome it would be if we did choose that song, and then wowed our guests with elaborate choreography, in homage to the brilliant climax of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion.
Finalizing our arrangements with the band presented a new problem: Chet Baker’s rendition of “Time After Time,” though lovely, is much too chill for dancing. So we turned to the iTunes store to find a more upbeat version for them to imitate, and the search results turned into a very entertaining game of “Guess Which ‘Time After Time’ This Artist Covered?” It was more challenging than you’d think. Which would you have expected Carly Simon to tackle? What about Eva Cassidy? Ann Hampton Callaway? Willie Nelson? They all took on Cyndi’s hit, I’m afraid. I also would have bet wrong when it came to Miles Davis, although the fiancé was familiar with his (awesome) Lauper instrumental. The biggest, and most hilarious, surprise was Paul Anka’s version of the 1980s "Time After Time," which is funnier than anything by Richard Cheese.
Meanwhile, improbable and/or unacceptable interpreters of the Jule Styne song include Placido Domingo, Rod Stewart, the Temptations (“revisionist” is a nice word for their mid-90s R&B version) and -- my favorite -- Ricky Nelson. There are a number of other versions we had to rule out because of their slow and/or irregular tempos -- honorable mention goes to Dinah Washington, who sets the song to a slow 50s shuffle. And it seems R.E.M., Crosby & Nash and Ozzy Osbourne have songs of their own called “Time After Time,” further complicating the search.
We finally settled on an up-tempo cover by Ella Fitzgerald, although we’ve asked the band for a more straightforward and Chet-like vocal. Now that that’s finally settled, we’re rehearsing our fox-trot… And if, in spite of all our efforts, the band plays Cyndi Lauper anyway? I’ve seen the end of Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion a whole bunch of times. I’m sure I can wing it.
(I was hoping to link to said scene on YouTube, because I never get sick of watching it. But I didn’t find it, although I did uncover several videos of high school students performing the dance themselves. You can decide whether that’s something you need to see. I will link to Cyndi Lauper’s music video for “Time After Time,” but I’m not sure I recommend it -- in fact, the high-school talent-show footage is probably a better bet.)