Lyric Analysis: Billy Idol and 'White Wedding'

BILLY IDOL

"White Wedding"

Hey little sister what have you done?

The cry of every older sibling since the dawn of families.  What have you done, sis?  Why is my G.I. Joe in Barbie’s campervan, naked?

Hey little sister who's the only one?
Hey little sister who's your superman?

I immediately think “Lannister” and I’d apologize but it really can’t be helped.  Imagine Jaime singing this to Cersei and it’s a whole different song, right?  

Hey little sister who's the one you want?

Yeah, exactly.  *shoves Bran out a window*  You know how this ends.

Hey little sister shot gun!

In relation to the white wedding, am I to assume this is a reference to it being a shotgun wedding?  Is she pregnant?  Are they eloping?  Or is Billy Idol literally tossing her a shotgun like “hey sis, catch” and she’s all “lol, shotgun, thanks bro” like it’s no big deal?

It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day for a white wedding.

In the context of all the ‘who’s your daddy-ing’ and ‘shotgunning’ that came before, the white wedding here is suspect.  Like I don’t think this will be a Martha Stewart event, you know?  I doubt they’ll make their own table centres and distress lace to look antique for souvenir hankies hand-embroidered with the couple’s initials and a stylized heart.  This one time I watched Martha Stewart and she was going to show how to make a pumpkin pie and I thought “Yeah, I like pumpkin pie, I can get behind this” and she started by saying “First you need to go out to your pumpkin patch and select a pumpkin from the home grown garden you’ve been cultivating in your yard” and I was like “Welp, that was fun while it lasted.”  This wedding, though, I suspect, will not be that.

It's a nice day to start again.

Though, really, it’s never too late to start gardening.

Hey little sister who is it you're with?

Who even is the groom?  I bet so many grooms feel this way on their wedding day.  The bride this and the dress that and the flowers this and the caterer that...  It starts to feel like the people involved may be secondary.  Is that what this references?  I mean who is the little sister with?  Is it the one she loves or one she’s being forced to marry out of circumstance?  Does she even know who she’s with?  Is this a rash decision?  

Hey little sister what's your vice and wish?

My vice is CSI and my wish is Tom Hardy.  I realize the question wasn’t directed to me but if it was I’d have a hybrid crime scene/Tom Hardy wedding fiasco type scenario.  With cigars.  And vampires.  At night.  Upon reflection, I enjoy being single and just pondering these things in an abstract manner.

Hey little sister shot gun (oh yeah)

“From my cold dead hands!”

Hey little sister who's your superman?

Obviously my Superman is Christopher Reeve.  Isn’t everyone’s?  

Hey little sister shot gun!

Not for nothing but I do hope it isn’t a loaded shotgun you’re playing catch with.  

It's a nice day to start again (come on)
It's a nice day for a white wedding

‘White Wedding’ is a prequel to ‘Cradle of Love’, right?  In the Billy Idol storytelling pantheon, I mean.

It's a nice day to start again.

(Pick it up)

The ‘pick it up’ could refer to the shotgun which I presume is laying on the ground somewhere around the altar.  But I tend to think this is a reference to the song tempo instead.  It’s Billy breaking the fourth musical wall and instructing his band to go hard.  So many layers....

Take me back home

This just makes me think of how Prince Harry lived in a small place on William and Kate’s estate for awhile there after they were married.  “Bro, this has been a fun wedding, but man, take me back home” and all three of them pile into the car to go eat pizza on the couch.  Royal warm fuzzies.

Hey little sister what have you done?
Hey little sister who's the only one?

Questions you should have asked her PRIOR to the wedding day... just sayin’...

I've been away for so long (so long)
I've been away for so long (so long)
I let you go for so long

Were you at war, Billy Idol?  What’s the story here?

It's a nice day to start again (come on)
It's a nice day for a white wedding
It's a nice day to start again.

There is nothin' fair in this world
There is nothin' safe in this world

Reasons why Billy Idol’s career as a Hallmark card writer never did take off...

And there's nothin' sure in this world
And there's nothin' pure in this world

Time for a little wedding history lesson.  While many believe the bride’s wearing of white is to advertise her untouched virginal status, it actually has nothing to do with perceived purity.  Brides prior to Queen Victoria wore any color of dress they pleased, with red being an especially popular choice in Europe.  But once Victoria wore white lace to marry Albert, brides everywhere started adopting the white wedding dress as a way to show their status and wealth.  The practice spread until it became the norm.  Likewise a ‘white wedding’ is now a term used to describe a traditional western-style wedding complete with bride in white, groom, bridesmaids in matched dresses, groomsmen standing at the groom’s side, processional music, etc.  Technically, then, Billy Idol’s lament about nothing pure and sure being in the world has little to do with the titular white wedding.  So we must assume his complaint is of a more personal nature, one that betrays his insider knowledge of the couple in question.

Look for something left in this world
Start again

Perhaps this is an admonition to forget the pain of the past and all the broken hearts and trampled dreams one must suffer on the path to finding true love.  Perhaps, after all, this is truly a beautiful wedding ballad.  Billy Idol knows love.  Forget the hurt that came before, look for something new, start over.  Be in love.

Come on
It's a nice day for a white wedding

To misquote Worf, “Today IS a good day for a white wedding!”

It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day to start again.
It's a nice day to start again

“Hello repetition my old friend / you’ve come to talk to me again / all your thoughts and words repeating / and on my head again is beating / the sentence that was started in this song / all along / whispers the repeated strain...”  Oh yeah, I worked a Simon and Garfunkel reference into a Billy Idol song.  That just happened.

 

- Corinne Simpson