Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Song Through the Years

Everything I Do (I Do It for You)

When my wife and I started dating, one of our first outings was to see Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves at the Genesee Theater. It's a silly film, but we enjoyed it at the time not least of all because we were thrilled with each others' company. Now we still enjoy it, not least of all because of its sentimental value to us.

Recognizing that this movie was an integral part of our lives, I decided to include it in our wedding-day festivities. As a surprise to my wife, I had learned the lyrics, found an instrumental recording of the music, and arranged with the band at our reception for them to play the recording when I gave them the nod. At the right time, I hopped up on stage, professed my undying love for my new bride (who immediately ran in the other direction and had to be escorted back by my best man - nice work, Bill!), and sang her the Bryan Adams ballad "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)" from the Robin Hood soundtrack.

Fast-forward fifteen years. We now have three beautiful kids and we're as happy as ever. More, I love my wife even more now than I did back then. Fifteen years felt to me like a milestone - more substantive than a mere ten years, especially now that our children seem less like squalling sacks of spitup and more like real people. Plus, two of those people are now fledgling musicians! That gave me an idea!

First, I found the guitar chords for that classic ballad online. I told my guitar teacher I needed a bit of a hand, and he was glad to help. Even better, he had a full copy of the music and experience with the song - he'd performed it for his own wife some years ago! He helped me figure out how to play it (which started by changing the key from D-flat to D, because, you know, barre chords - ugh!) and he worked up a version of the solo as guitar tabs.

Next, it was off to see my daughter's piano teacher. Again, he was glad to help and we were grateful for his assistance. He also marked up the music so that it was playable at my daughter's level. She then improvised on her own and went far beyond the simple notes he worked out for her, but it was definitely helpful to have the notes as a baseline.

Then, we practiced. For FIVE MONTHS we practiced this song nearly every day, usually 2-3 times per session. Sometimes more. I also worked the solo on my own. We're extremely novice musicians, of course. My son and I have been playing the guitar for exactly one year. My daughter has a few more years on the piano, which is why her part sounds better. Oh yeah, and I don't really sing all that well, which doesn't help.

Anyway, keeping the thing a secret was probably the hardest part. It was supposed to be a surprise, after all. So we couldn't let my wife see the music. I had to come up with excuses to take my daughter to her piano lesson so I could talk to her piano teacher. I even made sure not to whistle the song, because I didn't want her wondering why it was in my head.

In the end, it came off pretty well. My mother cried, my wife was touched, and everybody got the message that she's a pretty special lady to me and to our kids. It's not going to win any awards or anything (far from it) and I never could manage to record a performance where I got the solo right (I CAN do it, I swear. Just not when it counts, apparently), but as amaturish displays of affection go, this one's right up there.

So here's the world premier of our performance of Everything I Do (I Do It for You).

Go ahead and comment if you like. Just remember - we're amateurs. I'm not even pretending we're professional caliber. This was a labor of love, and no talent is implied.

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