It's a bitter song, sung by a man who has every right to be bitter.
"Please don't tell her that I love her," the man begins, upper lip set stiffly. "If she should ask me I'll just say/ 'I hope you're happy with your new love/ On this...
Wait for it... here it comes...
"...your wedding day.'" Aw, no!
Not only does he have to attend the wedding between his love and another, he has to pretend to be pleased on her behalf. We might find him, after enduring the ceremony with a forced smile, not on the dance floor but at the bar.
While his pride is wounded, he still has some: "I don't want her sympathy." And anyway, it would only matter to him, as her pity would be insincere: "I know that now she has forgotten/ The dream she used to share with me." Poor guy.
In short, "I must be brave, though she's untrue."
But that's the Smokey-Robinsonesque facade. Inside, of course, he's a mess. "She'll kiss his lips and say I do/ I'll shed a tear by she won't know it."
The backup singers (which sound like they include Simon), sing-- to the traditional processional melody-- "Here comes the bride/ I wanna cry." They, like a Greek chorus, let slip what's really going on.
As Inigo says in The Princess Bride: "His true love is marrying another tonight, so who else has the cause for ultimate suffering?" If he makes it through the whole deal without breaking down, he deserves to catch the bouquet.
Like "Dori Anne," this is a tale of young angst, a popular topic for the slower doo-wop numbers, of which this is one. It has a melodramatic spoken, interlude, a "ba-b-b-ba," a lot of "oooh" in the background... the works.
Simon has often said that doo-wop was one of his major influences, and here we get to hear him assaying the form himself. It's not a classic like "Silhouettes" or "Sea of Love," but it's not half bad, either.
Ritchie Cordell wrote some of his own songs, which you might have heard, for Tommy James and the Shondells: "I Think We're Alone Now" and "Mony Mony." A cover of the former (by Tiffany) was succeed at the top of the charts by a cover of the latter (by Billy Idol). The only other songwriters to replace one #1 hit with another? Lennon and McCartney.
Cordell also produced "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" for Joan Jett and an album for The Ramones.
Next Song: The Pied Piper