I try hard not to use this blog as a chance to just blabber on about myself all the time, but you'll have to forgive me today. Both of these songs come with a story.
Story Number One: Two years ago, I had the gift of seeing this amazing woman speak at a work Christmas party. Gianna Jessen is a survivor of a saline abortion, a merciful daughter who's forgiven her birth mother for the choice she made, a fierce speaker who honestly tells her story, and above all, a humble daughter of God, just wanting divine and earthly romance like the rest of us. Truly, I'll never forget the talk she gave on that night two Decembers ago. She told the story of her adoptive mama, Penny, who loved and affirmed her unconditionally, the longings she has for the love a man (I was so, so struck by her honesty), and the cry of the culture for men and women to hold each other up. Men, she said, be a Braveheart, not a coward. Ladies, she said, settle for nothing less (actually, she said, "No weasels"). I was overcome with gratitude for having found that kind of love.
Listening to Gianna in all her fearless vulnerability, her naked soul so plainly before the entire room, my heart was overwhelmed. I felt full to the brim. Overflowing, actually. All that feeling had to get out of me somehow, so of course I started crying. It was a strange brew of tears--tears of admiration for her strength, sorrow for her ache, joy for her joy, and pure awe at how she was all at once so normal and so extraordinary, not because of what she'd been through, but because of who she was.
Toward the end of her talk, Gianna opened her mouth to sing. No instruments or extra frills, just her. Her voice was so clear and earnest, and I remember thinking that I'd rarely experienced such silence as there was in the room while she sang. It took my breath away, and I decided right then that It Is Well With My Soul must be one of the most unflinchingly beautiful songs ever conceived. I think you can see why it'd be a wondrous addition to any wedding Mass.
Listen here--this is Gianna singing! You'll die.
Story Number Two: After our freshman year, my best friend transferred from our college, where we spent so many hours squeezing into her top bunk for naps, eating ice cream out of the carton, and praying in the huge, gorgeous chapel in the dark (We loved being in there at night! One of my unhappiest real-world discoveries was that when you're not on a college campus, you can rarely find a chapel that's unlocked at any hour). The first time I visited her at her new school, I encountered the swing dancing aspect of young Catholic culture for the first time. These people did not mess around. I swooned, but of course I had no idea what I was doing. Luckily, I learned pretty quickly that a talented boy can do most of the work for you; you just spin in the direction he guides you.
Anyway, another thing I learned pretty quickly was that a cute boy who can also dance is a recipe for an immediate crush. I spent most of the evening dancing with Teresa's friend and basically left planning our wedding (hello, emotional chastity), which brings me to this song. Dusty Springfield's I Only Want To Be With You is a perfect oldie: a super catchy tune, big brassy horns, and a wonderful, just-fell-in-love sensibility. It contains the great lines,
You stopped and smiled at me
And asked if I cared to dance
I fell into your open arms
And I didn't stand a chance
Listen to the song here!
And, here's a bonus: a slower, jazzier version I adore (I don't really know why the video is a picture of a security light, but hey). Enjoy.