‘Free Your Mind’

Years ago, a couple putting together a wedding ceremony asked me to provide the music. In those pre-MP3 days, the best way to complete such a request was to make cassette tapes and try to have some kind of flow. A veteran mix-tape maker by this time, I was confident in my abilities.

I sat in a room apart from the guests, speakers out a window, me able to look out and see and hear everything that was going on. About a half-hour before the ceremony, the groom came into the room, and looked a little more upset than most prospective grooms look. Something was wrong.

He’d just gotten off the phone with his family. His mother and father were not coming to the ceremony. They did not approve of the mixed marriage.

Dope that I was, I thought, “What religion is she? What religion is HE?”

Then I realized his family was disapproving of a mixed-race marriage.

I said, “You know, your family is here now. These are the people who love you. These are the people who support you. You can’t let anyone trouble you now. Think about who is here, and why they’re here.”
I didn’t know whether that was the right thing to say. But he hugged me, and seemed to have his spirits lifted some. He went out, and took part in a wonderful wedding ceremony. (A marriage that, I hasten to add, remains a successful one more than two decades later.)

There were six hours of music prepared, four 90-minute tapes. I was working, and couldn’t stay for the entire reception, so I left the stack of tapes for whoever would be near the player. The ceremony opened with Prince’s “Diamonds and Pearls,” which I thought was a mistake, and I suggested other possibilities. But when the bride-to-be started walking down the aisle, I had to concede she’d made the right decision.

The couple “exited” (by which I mean walked down and stood at the end of the aisle) while Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” played. About three-quarters of the way through the song, I realized I didn’t remember what I’d recorded after that. I was briefly concerned it would be a terribly inappropriate song.

Instead, though, En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” started.

Given the discussion I had with the groom prior to the ceremony, I thought it was a pretty powerful statement.

More than 20 years later, I still do.

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