A traditional father links arms with his daughter to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day, to the traditional tune of “Bridal Chorus” (a k a “Here Comes the Bride”) by composer Richard Wagner. But musician and Senior Arts Writer for the Independent Joe Woodard is not a traditional father, at least not in this sense.
He’s a bit more “noodly.”
Forgoing tradition, Woodard, who can be heard playing around town with his band Headless Household, did what most dads have not — composed an entire album to perform for his daughter, Claire, on her special day this past June.
Woodard pulled from an impressive repertoire of what he and Claire call his “pleasant, noodly” guitar instrumentals and refined a collection of the original, solo guitar tunes to provide his daughter and her betrothed with the perfect nuptial playlist.
“It really was a unique pleasure for me to play for a half-hour at the wedding and then to literally play while walking her down the aisle — the song ‘On this Day.’ I’ve played a lot of weddings in my life as a musician, especially back when I was doing that more for a living. But this was a wholly other and deeply personal experience,” Woodard said.
A pleasant deviation from “Here Comes the Bride,” Woodard’s song “On This Day,” is a velvety, warm, fingerstyle acoustic melody. He wrote the song a few years ago, saying that he always thought it would “suit a ceremonial function, especially a wedding.” The vocal version of the song came later, he said, “further cementing the marriage reference.”
When Woodard strummed the tune as he guided Claire down the aisle, that “marriage reference” became a concrete memory. “That experience drifts back into my consciousness now when I’m playing the tune,” he said.
After vows had been exchanged, Woodard felt the urge to record and compile the 11 mellow wedding tracks into an album as a summer project in his home, “Would-Be Studio.” The album, titled Wedding Album (On This Day), officially released on November 1, includes both the instrumental and lyrical version of “On This Day,” as well as sweetly named, personal tunes like “Claire-ity,” which Woodward wrote about his daughter when she was a baby in the early ’90s.
“I kept it secret from Claire and John until handing them the CD as a belated wedding present only recently, and got their blessing to actually put it out, making it public versus just a private family thing,” he said about the album.
The artist, who has flowed between musical projects and out-of-the-box genres, landed on “Ambient Dinner Music” to classify the album because of its “pleasing background” qualities.
“As a musician with very diverse tastes and veteran music journalist-critic, I’m always searching for new ways to describe music — even though I am a firm believer that music does speak for itself, without need for categories,” Woodard noted.
With folky, alternative stylings, the tracks are well-suited for casual listening over dinner, but knowing the stories behind the songs render them significantly more impactful.
“Weirdly, although I rarely go to directly autobiographical or personal places in my songwriting, here is a very personal statement, stuffed into an EP package,” Woodard explained. “Of course, these songs have the saving grace of being beyond words. Sentiments are implied in the notes.”