Dead Fish Wedding
September 10, 2015 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I've been performing weddings as a side gig for going on two years now. One of my trademarks is seamlessly working a few things related to the couple's interests into the ceremony. But the next couple? They like fishing and the Grateful Dead. If you know any literary allusions or jokes or stories or what have you that could tie fishing into a wedding, that would be much appreciated. If you know the Dead well enough to recommend romantic or relationship-oriented lyrics from their catalog, also good. If you can somehow do both of those things and find Dead lyrics that invoke love and fishing, YOU ARE A MIRACLE AND I LOVE YOU.
posted by DirtyOldTown to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's mosquitoes on the river
Fish are rising up like birds
It's been hot for seven weeks now,
Too hot to even speak now
Did you hear what I just heard?

"The Music Never Stopped"
posted by parki at 7:27 PM on September 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love this song which is usually done by Doc Watson or Taj Mahal but it's also been done by the Dead and the lyrics are awesome.

Bet you goin' fishin' all of the time
Baby goin' fishin' too
Bet your life that your sweet wife
She gonna catch more fish than you

Many fish bites if you got good bait
Here's a little tip that I'd like to relate
Many fish bites if you got good bait
I'm a-goin' fishin', mama's goin' fishin', and my baby goin' fishin' too

There's also the obligatory Phish reference you could make. I think if it were me I'd go with a line form a more familiar Dead tune Hesitation Blues

Rocks in the ocean, Lord, fish in the sea
Knows you mean the world to me
Tell me how long do I have to wait?
Can I get you now, or must I hesitate?

And then pronounce them enspousenated!
posted by jessamyn at 7:40 PM on September 10, 2015 [12 favorites]

I don't actually know a lot about the Dead, and this is not fishing-related, but I know that they liked to end their live performances with an a cappella rendition of And We Bid You Goodnight, and I wouldn't be surprised if this song were quite meaningful to them. It's a very beautiful song with evocative lyrics. They are religious in nature so it will depend on the couple's beliefs and/or tolerance for Christian themes.
posted by capricorn at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2015

Best answer: They Love Each Other. Here is video of them doing it.

Here too is a link to the UCSC Dead archive and a list of all the songs and their lyrics. Most are annotated with all sorts of research and speculation.

Also consider Attics of My Life. It is the last song they played or will play as the Grateful Dead last July 5th.

Here is a really interesting article that tries to explain the Grateful Dead experience and its relation to religion in a spiritual way.

As for fish references, parki nails the only original song they have that has the word fish in it. They have many songs that reference a river. Bob Weir's solo band was called Kingfish.

Hesitation Blues is more associated with Hot Tuna than the Dead although they did play it a few times. It is a great song.
posted by AugustWest at 8:09 PM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, it it not really a direct answer to your question, but I would be remiss if I did not link to Wharf Rat. Warning: eponysterical alert
posted by AugustWest at 8:11 PM on September 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

As AugustWest mentioned, They Love Each Other is a very positive, love-affirming sort of song. Many a Dead tune is tinged (or rife) with melancholy, but that one is just a straightforward description of two people in love, and would be a good choice.

Another good choice might be Jack-A-Roe (lyrics ; YT of 12/31/81 acoustic performance), which is a song about a couple that love each other with great commitment, and ends with the narrator turning the song around and asking the listener to marry him. It might be another option.

Of course, if the above prove to be too hard to work up and you want something easy, Not Fade Away by Buddy Holly is a solid choice and an easy song to rave up.

If you expand beyond songs performed by the Dead to also include songs Garcia performed with the Jerry Garcia Band, you get some more traditional rock love songs -- How Sweet it Is (Holland–Dozier–Holland; performed by Marvin Gaye and a billion others), The Way You Do The Things You Do (the Temptations and many more), Shining Star by The Manhattans (lyrics, not to be confused with the song of the same name by Earth, Wind, & Fire), etc.

Any of these songs would be better than what happened at our wedding. Weeks before our wedding, we asked the band we hired to play a Dead tune at some point during the evening. They seemed uncertain, so we said we didn't really care which Dead tune, it could be any Dead tune they felt they could pull off, we just wanted at least one, or one they covered. So they played Casey Jones (lyrics). That got us a few looks, lol.

I love to fish myself but don't know of any fishing stories suitable for a wedding. Sorry.

Good luck!
posted by mosk at 11:02 PM on September 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jerry Band - Ruben and Cherise
posted by rhizome at 2:05 AM on September 11, 2015

You might be able to do something with Sugar Magnolia:
Sugar Magnolia blossom's blooming
Head's all empty and I don't care
Saw my baby down by the river
Knew she'd have to come up soon for air

Sweet blossom come on under the willow
We can have high times if you'll abide
We can discover the wonders of nature
Rolling in the rushes down by the riverside
posted by Runes at 5:06 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would add that while Eyes of the World is not a love story, many people find the line, "Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world" to be uplifting and motivating. In concert it is sort of anthem like with the whole crowd singing along on that line.
posted by AugustWest at 7:02 AM on September 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oops, disregard my previous response: a kindly MeFite who would prefer to remain anonymous pointed out to me that We Bid You Goodnight is (at least understood by many Dead fans to be) a funeral song, so maybe not the best pick!
posted by capricorn at 7:33 AM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ripple is a pretty great song, and it's one of their most famous so the crowd would be more likely to at least recognize it, and there's a water/life/peace/prosperity theme that would fit nicely into a wedding.

Ripple in still water
When there is no pebble tossed
Nor wind to blow

Reach out your hand if your cup be empty
If your cup is full may it be again
Let it be known there is a fountain
That was not made by the hands of men
posted by AgentRocket at 7:39 AM on September 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

@rhizome - FWIW, Reuben and Cherise is a very hard song to play. Like...seriously hard. I love it, but as a guitarist it's a difficult song. Also, it's a song about a love betrayed...
posted by mosk at 10:23 AM on September 11, 2015

It is also not what I would consider a love song. First part yes, ending, no.
posted by jessamyn at 10:37 AM on September 11, 2015

Huh, weird, I never heard it that way. Nevermind!
posted by rhizome at 10:54 AM on September 11, 2015

If you need a moment of levity, hard to go wrong with Women Are Smarter.
posted by workerant at 10:56 AM on September 11, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay. I think this calls for a Phish song.

I just don't know which ones. I know about ten of their songs and none are really wedding-y.

But when you combine fishing with the Dead, it comes out Phish to me.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:33 PM on September 11, 2015

I think you might have to write a few of your own lines to make this happen. I would use the song truckin' and replace with fishin'. After a few verses go in to your homemade section. You can incorporate the places they fish lake names etc. and what they like to fish for to the truckin tune. Shouldn't be too hard for a verse or two.

Fishin', for the blue gill fry
Off to the lake we try
Etc etc
posted by gatorbiddy at 7:32 AM on September 12, 2015

The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)? No fish, sorry. Possibly romantic/love/relationshipish, depending on the listener.
posted by you must supply a verb at 5:04 PM on September 12, 2015

Response by poster: The winner is AugustWest! I told the story of how they got together with a cheeky amount of fishing puns--great catch, throwing some back, etc.--being careful to make regular uses of references to fishing lines. Then I quoted this bit from "They Love Each Other" and it went over like gangbusters:

He could pass his time
'round some other line
But you know he
chose this place beside her
Don't get in the way
there's nothing you can say,
Nothing that you need
to add or do
They love each other
Lord, you can see it's true

posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:18 PM on September 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

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