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How I Came To Write ‘Perfectly Happy (Wedding Song)’

‘Perfectly Happy (Wedding Song)’ seems to be the most popular song from my debut EP. It was a song I wrote for my sister’s wedding. I could tell about the nuances of the lyrics, but it wouldn’t mean much without telling about my sister and what she means to me, because that is where it comes from.

My sister was 15 years old when I was born. She and my two brothers were old enough already to be fairly independent, and when I came along I was a bit of a surprise baby. My parents had started going out in the evenings on their own more often again, and this continued while I was little. I was regularly left in the care of my older siblings, and they did a great job of taking care of me, especially my sister.

Of course, my siblings got older, and along with that they moved out of the house and had their own families. My sister moved the furthest away, from going to University in Ontario, studying and working in Germany, and after she got married to her first husband Tim they went to work as teachers in Botswana in the town of Kanye. They were working for an agency subcontracted by the Canadian International Development Agency, teaching at the Seepasitso Secondary School.

Although my mom at this time had been fighting cancer, she had a period of remission, and my parents decided to go visit my sister and her husband in Botswana, with stops in Europe to do some vacationing and to visit with my Uncle and his family in the Schwarzwald area in Germany. Since I was still quite young, they took me along. This trip probably set the tone for my willingness to be a bit adventurous and take some risks in my life. My sister and her husband were gracious hosts, and I felt very comfortable in Botswana, where I enjoyed playing soccer in the street with some of the local boys. (The rest of the trip was great too).

A year later, my mother’s cancer had returned, and she was confined to the hospital for a long time. My sister and her husband came home from their teaching assignment early in order to help take care of me. When my mother died, it was my sister who delivered the news. Time passed, and circumstances changed. My father remarried. My sister and her husband had children of their own. I went to University, and had some adventures on my own, eventually marrying and being part of my own family. What did not change was my sister’s continued caring support and openness in relationship to me and the whole family.

My sister is a gracious, caring, and authentic person. She laughs easily and naturally. One of her quirks is that, having studied and taken an interest in language for her entire life, she is a bit particular about using language properly – but this particularity about language never takes precedence over how she cares about people. She does know what she wants in life, and partly because she has always been good at knowing what she wants to achieve (mostly in the way of contributing to her community, but also in the things she likes), she has experienced success in achieving her goals.

A few years ago, suddenly and unexpectedly, her first husband died of a heart attack that he experienced during a weekly floor hockey game at their church. This hit her hard, of course. He had always taken care of his health and been active, so it was a huge surprise and shock. Their boys, now grown up, grieved with her and supported her.

Over time, my sister rekindled a friendship with a former teaching colleague of hers, and that friendship became romantic. This eventually resulted in their getting married, and the opportunity to write ‘Perfectly Happy’.

In the lyrics of ‘Perfectly Happy’, I sort of playfully take on my sister’s perspective regarding her new husband (and old friend), suggesting that she is a particular person who knows what she wants – and that he fits the bill. There’s a bit of word-play, comparing the relationship between the couple to a sort of ascendancy to the leadership of a country. A ‘State of the Union Address’ is a speech given by a President of the United States, generally addressing significant and emerging circumstances of note to the entire country. A marriage is often also referred to as a union; a ‘state’ is a condition; and ‘addressed’ can mean either ‘indicating a place of residence’ or ‘the way in which one person initiates discussion with another’. I like word play, and so does my sister – it’s part of the whole family’s sense of humour, really.

So there you have it – that’s how I came to write ‘Perfectly Happy (Wedding Song)’. I’ve changed it a bit since I first sang it at my sister’s wedding – it is now lower in pitch, for example, since I refocused my overall singing style to stay in the vocal range I’m more comfortable with – but basically it’s the same song I wrote at the time. I hope that you can feel the sense of affection and playfulness that I had when I wrote it.

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