Canon In Drop D: A Wedding Song Gone Wrong

It’s time for “the big one.”  Canon in Drop D.  A classic wedding-song turned breakup-song.  Rock-opera of epic proportions.  Delicate movements followed by heart-pounding metal.  A song that predicted my future.  I cannot overstate what this song has meant to me over the years.  Hopefully it will help you remember that you’re not alone in your moments of pain.  If you haven’t downloaded the song yet, you can click here to get it and four other songs for free.  This is the story behind the song.

I had no idea what this song would become when I began writing it.  In fact, it’s weirdly cryptic how it came about.  If you read my blog about the song Stay With Me, you know that song was written as an appeal to my then-fiance, hoping she would choose me and go through with our wedding.  She ended up choosing to break off our engagement and marry another man.  Canon was written only two weeks before Stay With Me, before there were any recognizable warning signs.  Just for the record, it’s okay.  When I think about the broken engagement today, I’m completely at peace.  I realize now that she was making the right decision for both of us, but I couldn’t see that at the time. 

Let’s go back to the moment Canon was written.  I was sitting on my then-fiance’s bed with her acoustic guitar, writing what would become Canon In Drop D while she packed to go back to school for her senior year of college.  I remember being heavily influenced by Green Day’s rock-opera Jesus of Suburbia and found myself wanting to write something along those lines.  At the time I was really interested in epic songwriting and wanted to take the listener on a journey of unexpected twists and turns, eventually finding my way back to a central melody.  I stumbled onto a chord progression that I really liked, but soon realized I was playing the chords to Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  At first I was bummed and I thought I would have to scrap the song, but then I realized the song was public domain.  I could use it without having to pay royalties.  I remember thinking it would be really cool to sing an original melody over the chords to Pachelbel’s Canon In D.

Then, some lyrics magically appeared in my head; “Say you’ll be there ’til the end, cause I don’t know what’s coming next.”  I began to write out the music and lyrics in a spiral notebook.  What’s most interesting about this song is that the lyrics would predict the future of my relationship two weeks before the breakup.  It gives the song almost an eerie, supernatural lore.  Sometimes I wonder to myself, am I trapped inside the Will Ferrell movie Stranger Than FictionDo my lyrics become reality and play out in real life?  It wouldn’t be the first time.  In addition, I didn’t even think about the fact that Canon In D is a wedding song.  It was pure coincidence.  Or was it?  Maybe what I knew deep down to be true came out in my lyrics.  Maybe sometimes we can’t admit the truth to ourselves because we’re not yet ready to face it.  Give the song a listen.  It’s hard to believe it was written two weeks before an out-of-the-blue breakup with no early warning signs to foreshadow the inevitable.  You can hear this unexpected turn of events play out as the music in the first movement comes to a sudden stop.  What happens next would not only be life-changing, but would change who I was to become.  The same is true for you; hardships challenge the way we see and understand the world.  Sometimes we’re changed forever. 

One thing I learned is that situations can be very painful and yet still change us for the better.  It would take several years for me to be able to see it though.  We’ll break down the metal section in the next blog.  Stay tuned for part 2 of behind the song Canon in Drop D!


Nathan (aka Vandarth)