The Right Musical Tools for the Job – By Jay Maxwell

October 31, 2011 by Jay Maxwell

Growing up on the farm there was always something that needed repairing. It was interesting that we could fix almost everything with the same basic tools. All that was needed was a hammer, a pair of pliers, a wrench, a screwdriver, and maybe a saw.

Once I joined the Navy and went to Machinist Mate School, it took days to learn about all the special tools that we needed to operate and fix the equipment found on a ship or submarine. In fact, a pair of pliers wasn’t even one of the tools that we needed—pliers were all but banned from use. Instead there were many wrenches, and not just crescent wrenches, but precise wrenches for particular uses. There were tools that we were tested on during school that I remember never using at any time during my six-year stint in the service. But the point was that the tool was there if ever it was needed.

MUSICAL TOOL BOX

Let’s compare a DJ’s “tool box” to a machinist’s tool bag. For many DJs, their repertoire of wedding reception music for the special events like the cake cutting, bouquet toss, and garter removal, is akin to my tool bag when I was helping my father around the farm during my childhood. It contains just the basics.

In a farm community, every pickup truck has a hammer in it just in case you need to quickly stop and fix a gate or fence, or make some other repair requiring a hammer and nail. Likewise, every DJ would certainly have “Single Ladies” for the bouquet toss and “Let’s Get It On” for the garter removal, because those songs are requested more often than most other songs for those events. One wouldn’t leave home without those “tools” because the odds are high that they will be needed. (In fact, 53% of our brides last year chose “Single Ladies” for the bouquet toss and nearly 30% selected “Let’s Get It On” for the garter removal.)

DON’T ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME

But remember that what worked on our small farm in Georgia didn’t necessarily work on a nuclear-powered submarine. Special tools were required and knowledge about those tools was needed in order to know how and when to use then. When you are on patrol in a submarine, you must be self-reliant. That is, you must carry with you a lot of tools in case something needs repairing immediately. There’s no repair shop sitting in the Atlantic Ocean. You have to be prepared.

The same is true when a bride asks you to suggest songs for, say the cake cutting, that haven’t been played at every wedding during the past decade. This issue’s list should prepare every DJ for those brides who want to see some unique songs for their receptions’ special events.

For most of my career, when a bride asked for suggestions for an introduction song or the send-off song, the songs that came to mind were indeed those that we had played for that particular event time and again. For years, we would tally and track the most requested songs and create “top 10 or top 20” lists for our clients to look at to select their songs. Many of those same lists have appeared in several articles in this feature of Mobile Beat Magazine since 1992.

A BIGGER TOOL CHEST

This year though, we not only tabulated the most requested songs, we also created a list of ALL the songs requested for each event. Now our tool box is bigger and can handle more discriminating clients when they want to dig deeper to find just the right “gem” for their reception. The gem list is not exhaustive, of course. But it does represent a great start to show your client that you are prepared with the special tools needed to get their “custom” job done.

One thing that is noticeably missing from our tabulations is a selection of first dance songs. In the package that we send to our brides, this list is included, but we rarely get asked to see additional songs for this event because the bride and groom have typically already selected their special song for their first dance. When it comes to the other songs, though, such as the songs for the bride and father or the groom and mother, they are often clueless; so the more variety we can offer, the more they appreciate our service.

The most useful advice that we often give during a consultation is not in suggesting a particular song, but the direction that we take the conversation. That is, for the introduction song, we often ask if they want their college fight song. This usually only works if both the bride and groom went to the same college or at least like the same college football team from that school. Another way we sometimes help a couple when they can’t decide on the song for the parent’s dances is to encourage them to ask their mom and dad what song they want to dance to with their son and daughter. This takes the pressure off the bride and groom and gives the honor of choosing the song to the parents. Everyone wins in this arrangement.

As any do-it-yourselfer can tell you, there is always room for additional tools in the tool box. This list is a good assortment, but continue to increase the number tools in your own box. Keep track of your own client’s requests and catalog them where they were requested. If a song was requested for the garter removal, then make a note of it for your future clients. Suggestions and advice can figure prominently in a bride’s decision to hire a mobile DJ. She is hiring you—a professional—(rather than just firing up her iPod) because she trusts you to know what musical tool is needed when she wants you to…play something she can dance to!

 

INTRODUCTION
TOP SONGS
SONG TITLE ARTIST
1 I GOTTA FEELING BLACK EYED PEAS
2 BEAUTIFUL DAY U2
3 FOREVER CHRIS BROWN
4 LET’S GET IT STARTED BLACK EYED PEAS
5 SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED STEVIE WONDER
6 GET THE PARTY STARTED PINK
OTHER SUGGESTIONS
BRIDE’S / GROOM’S COLLEGE FIGHT SONG VARIOUS
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE BEATLES
AMAZED LONESTAR
ARE YOU GONNA BE MY GIRL JET
BACK IN BLACK (instrumental) AC/DC
BETTER TOGETHER JACK JOHNSON
BOOGIE SHOES KC & SUNSHINE BAND
CHECK IT OUT WILL I AM
DANCE TO THE MUSIC SLY & FAMILY STONE
DANCING IN THE STREET VAN HALEN
DYNAMITE TAIO CRUZ
EYE OF THE TIGER SURVIVOR
FINAL COUNTDOWN EUROPE
FIND OUT WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE TRACY LAWRENCE
FOOTLOOSE KENNY LOGGINS
IMMORTALS KINGS OF LEON
JUMP POINTER SISTERS
JUST DANCE LADY GAGA
KICK IN THE HEAD DEAN MARTIN
KICKSTART MY HEART MOTLEY CRUE
LET ME CLEAR MY THROAT DJ KOOL
LIFE IN TECHNICOLOR COLD PLAY
LIKE A G6 FAR EAST MOVEMENT
LOVE STORY TAYLOR SWIFT
MARRY YOU BRUNO MARS
NOW THAT WE FOUND LOVE HEAVY D
ONLY YOU CAN LOVE ME THIS WAY KEITH URBAN
PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR SHOP BOYZ
POWER OF LOVE HUEY LEWIS
RAISE YOUR GLASS PINK
REGULATE WARREN G
ROCK STEADY WHISPERS
SANDSTORM DARUDE
SEND ME ON MY WAY RUSTED ROOT
SHARP DRESSED MAN ZZ TOP
SHIPPING UP TO BOSTON INTRO DROPKICK MURPHYS
SIRIUS ALAN PARSONS
SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME MILES DAVIS
THESE ARE MY PEOPLE RODNEY ATKINS
THUNDERSTRUCK AC/DC
TOP GUN THEME SONG SOUNDTRACK
WALK THIS WAY AEROSMITH
WE ARE FAMILY SISTER SLEDGE
YOU AND I INGRID MICHAELSON
YOU ARE THE BEST THING RAY LAMONTAGNE
YOU MAKE MY DREAMS COME TRUE HALL & OATES
YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND QUEEN
YOU’RE MY FIRST, LAST, EVERYTHING BARRY WHITE
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Jay Maxwell Jay Maxwell (29 Posts)

Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (issue #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.


Filed Under: Exclusive Online News and Content, Issues from 2011