Monday, June 29, 2009

First Dance Song: "The Sweetheart Tree"

Every since I was a little girl, Henry Mancini's song "The Sweetheart Tree" has always brought indescribable joy into my life--one that simultaneously makes me teary-eyed and deliciously nostalgic, that makes me want to photograph and frame every wonderful moment of my life. It's the kind of song that stays with you, that transports you into another time when sweethearts picnicked on lawns, kissed under parasols, carved their initials in dogwood trees. It's the kind of song that makes you, whether you do or not, believe in love.

First airing in 1965, the song complemented the charm and whimsy of Blake Edward's film The Great Race (starring Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon) and was nominated for an academy award for the best original musical composition. The first time I saw the movie, I was eight-years-old, eating popcorn with mom and dad as Jen and I crowded around our VCR, laughing at the villainous Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon) and the heroic Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) as they performed death-defying feats to wow the crowds. While I remember the crazy contraptions, the great race, the infamous pie scene, and the ice bergs from Edwards' quirky film, what I remember the most is Natalie Wood singing "The Sweetheart Tree". At eight-years-old, I remember thinking: "this is how I want to feel when I meet the man I'm supposed to marry," and now, on the verge of matrimony at 31, I can't think of any other song I'd like to dance to with Chris, that captures how I feel about him more truly:

They say there's a tree in the forest
A tree that will give you a sign
Come along with me, to The Sweetheart Tree,
Come and carve your name next to mine.

They say if you kiss the right sweetheart
The one you've been waiting for
Big blossoms of white will burst into sight
And your love will be true evermore.

While the song was initially performed with vocals and spindly piano playing (!), there are a number of instrumental adaptations, and easily enough adapted for our band of fiddlers, guitar, and mandolin players. What's more, is that Chris and I can dance the waltz to its rhythm, which has been our favorite dance during our lessons the last month at Now and Then studios.

We plan to meet with our band on Juy 7, so I hope they'll be able to accommodate our request! I just so love this song. More to follow! Stay tuned.

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