Wedding Bell Blues
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|"Wedding Bell Blues"|
|Single by The 5th Dimension|
|from the album The Age of Aquarius|
|The 5th Dimension singles chronology|
"Wedding Bell Blues" is a song written and recorded by Laura Nyro in 1966 that became a number one hit for The 5th Dimension in 1969 and subsequently a popular phrase in American culture. The song is written from the perspective of a woman whose boyfriend has not yet proposed to her, who wonders, "am I ever gonna see my wedding day?" The song carries dual themes of adoring love and frustrated lament.
Laura Nyro original
Nyro wrote "Wedding Bell Blues" at the age of 18 as a "mini-suite", featuring several dramatic rhythmic changes — a trait Nyro explored on future albums. It was to be recorded in 1966 for Verve Folkways label as part of what would become her More Than a New Discovery album. However, producer Herb Bernstein did not allow Nyro to record this version, which led to Nyro more or less disowning the entire album.
What was recorded was fairly similar in content and arrangement to the later, much more familiar, 5th Dimension version, albeit with a somewhat more soulful vocal line. It was released as a single in September 1966 and remained on the Billboard Pop Singles "Bubbling Under" charts segment for several weeks, peaking at #103.
5th Dimension hit
The 5th Dimension had already found hits with Nyro's "Stoned Soul Picnic" and "Sweet Blindness" during 1968. When recording tracks for their upcoming album The Age of Aquarius, producer Bones Howe suggested it would be worth recording another Nyro song, this one about a woman trying to get someone named Bill to commit to marriage. Since, as it happened, 5th Dimension singer Marilyn McCoo was then engaged to another member, Billy Davis, Jr., though they had not decided on an actual wedding date at the time, the group recorded it, and in May of 1969, the album was released. The first single released ahead of the album, "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In," was a tremendous hit, while the success of the second single, "Workin' On a Groovy Thing," was much more modest. When a disc jockey in San Diego began playing "Wedding Bell Blues" off the album, Soul City Records saw its potential, and in September of 1969 it was put out as a single.
"Wedding Bell Blues" quickly soared to number one on the U.S. pop singles chart, spending three weeks there in November, 1969 and made one of the group's somewhat rare appearances on the U.S. R&B singles chart, where it peaked number twenty-three. It was the group's second of five number one's on the U.S. adult contemporary chart. It was a Top Five hit in Canada, and placed in the Top 20 on the UK Singles Chart--and their only hit there let alone for the earlier "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In." It became a platinum record.
In 1969 television appearances, McCoo would explicitly sing parts of the song to Davis; Davis would respond with quizzical looks. The rest of The 5th Dimension's early hits had featured more unison singing than this, and McCoo's prominent vocal and stage role on "Wedding Bell Blues" might have led to her being more featured in the group's early 1970s productions.
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