An Open Letter To Pachelbel’s Canon In D

Dear Pachelbel’s Canon in D,

No matter how long you take to arrive – four minutes, five minutes, forever – it’s always good to hear you, and I hope I never hear you again as long as I live.

As a professional wedding officiant, I write to you today from a place of hats-off respect and bar-brawl enmity. Your notes live on a pedestal in my mind, and I’d like to blow that pedestal to smithereens with C-4.

From the grandiose entrance of your low cellos to the strain of your accompanying violins, through the nerve-rattling repetition of said cellos and violins to the nerve-rattling repetition of said cellos and violins to the nerve-rattling repetition of said cellos and violins to the heightening magnificence that signals what we think is the end but isn’t the end and may never be the end, your presence alerts me to the fact that I am present at yet another wedding ceremony.

Of all the gorgeous pieces of music, you are the one that evokes the most immediate recognition and vitriol. You are the manicured nail on the chalkboard. Two notes in, the listener knows he’s about to stand up and mentally judge the probably white fabric a bride has chosen to poorly contain her flesh.

Sure enough, as your notes circle and build on each other with the pace of a Trader Joe’s line on a Saturday, I am not surprised to see another white-fabric-clad bride slow-walk down an aisle on the arm of her sweating father or stepfather, as sure as ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ signals the beginning of another four and a half-hour baseball game.

The bride cries, probably because it’s a big moment in her life, but also because she realizes that this big moment is being rendered cliché as the air fills with your elderly notes, whose musical conversation never gets past small talk.

The string trio muscle-memory-meanders through your notes, their music sheets featuring photographs of cannons, mourning the promise their careers had when they entered Juilliard, humbled to display their skills not at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center, but on an uneven lawn next to an event space in New Rochelle at six p.m. on a cold April Saturday.

As I wait at the altar, worn down from years of Canon in D entrances and consequently dead inside, I smile through clenched jaw because I know that once the bride and groom finally arrive before me, I get to say ‘you may be seated, thank you’, which will cue the musicians to stop playing and put us all out of our misery.

Oh Canon in D, you sound like even you are tired of being you. When’s the last time you took a vacation? May I suggest a few hot spots? Emergency rooms could use a theme song. Death row inmates deserve grace as they accept their fate. The DMV could be classed-up. You could be the last thing we hear before our colonoscopies.

And what’s up with calling yourself ‘in D’? Why the fussy distinction? It’s not like Pachelbel’s Canon in C, G or Z is out there stealing your slow thunder. Is that a music thing? Do I need to write separate letters to Pachelbel’s Canons in other keys?

Anyway, I continue to admire how you manage to keep Christina Perry’s graceful ‘A Thousand Years’ from surpassing you as a wedding anthem. It’s probably because she doesn’t let us know what key her song is in! I mean if she called it ‘A Thousand Years in D’ we’d respect her more, am I right?

By the way, you make us feel like we’ve spent a thousand years in D.

With Respect and Revulsion, in D,

Christopher Shelley

Christopher Shelley is a Wedding Celebrant and writer whose work has appeared in Slackjaw, Points In Case, and Little Old Lady Comedy. He marries people through his company Illuminating Ceremonies.

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