September songs

This blog is almost exclusively devoted to gig reviews, but occasionally I like to throw in a little something else. Having written a couple of pieces to tie in with other months of the year, including Great Number Nines (see here) last September, I realised that September is a month with lots of songs written about it.

Without doing any proper research, it seems to me that there are more songs about September than any other month of the year (apart from December, maybe). I’m not quite sure why, but something about the move from summer into autumn has apparently captured the imaginations of songwriters over the years.

So, I have chosen nine (to reflect it being the ninth month of the year) songs with September in the title, just for the sheer hell of it. I’ve even left out September Song, a classic tune about the month that I have versions of by great singers such as Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson. Here are some of its aching words:

“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December

But the days grow short when you reach September

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame

One hasn’t got time for the waiting game”

Anyway, without further ado, here are nine great songs about September, in no particular order:

1 – September Gurls by Big Star (from Radio City, 1974)

One of the most glorious pop songs ever written. End of. If you don’t know it, a) what’s wrong with you? b) click on the video a little lower down.

Big Star's "Radio City" album

One of the greatest albums ever made (image pinched from http://popdose.com/)

This was also covered well by Bangles in 1986, probably how many people know the song, while I also own a version by 80’s modsters Squ!re. It was also recorded by The Searchers on 1980’s Love’s Melodies, which I was unaware of until composing this article.

“December boys got it bad”

2 – September by Earth, Wind & Fire (single, 1978)

A bit of a disco classic that hit number one on the US R&B chart, number eight on the main Billboard chart and number three on the UK. Joy untrammelled.

3 – September by Ryan Adams & The Cardinals (from Jacksonville City Nights, 2005)

Probably the most depressing of these September songs – seemingly about the suicide of a young woman, starting “Laura lays on the foot of the bed, mimics a noose with a telephone cord”.

Kudos to Ryan for making this track nine on the album as well (originally planned to be titled after this track, apparently).

4 – September by 9.30 Fly (from 9.30 Fly, 1972)

This jaunty number came to my attention on the rather good Summer Turns To Autumn (Progressive & Psychedelic Rock From The Ember Vaults) compilation album. Apparently, the curiously-named 9.30 Fly supported The Velvet Underground later that year, which would have been an intriguing double-bill (although Lou Reed had departed by then).

The singers are Michael and his wife Barbara Wainwright on this prog-folk number, with some great strumming guitars, as they are on all of the album, with its peculiar cover:

930 Fly

Album cover (picture stolen from http://rockasteria.blogspot.co.uk/)

 

5 – September Lady by Felt (from Forever Breathes The Lonely Word, 1986)

Felt are a band I often catch glimpses of in modern-day bands, such as Horsebeach, By The Sea and Merchandise, though whether that’s deliberate, accidental or purely coincidental, I’m not sure.

They’d expanded their sound by the time of their sixth album, featuring Hammond organ on a lot of songs.

Lawrence Hayward’s lyrics feature the word “garrulous”, a very unusual word in a song – though a spot of Googling has just revealed that David Bowie later used it in a Tin Machine track.

6 – September In The Rain by The Beatles (from Decca audition, 1962)

This song was written back in 1937, by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and has been recorded by all kinds of artists (Bing Crosby, Annie Lennox and Paul Weller to name but three) as it became something of a standard.

This more rock ‘n’ roll version was sung by Paul McCartney at The Beatles’ ultimately unsuccessful audition for Decca Records on New Year’s Day 1962. This is a great example of how the band tried to show off the breadth of their repertoire, perhaps at the expense of showing off their strengths as a “great little band” as Macca described them.

The Beatles photographed a month before this recording

The Beatles photographed a month before this recording

This is another lyrically downbeat September song:

“Though spring is here, to me it is still September

That September in the rain

That September that brought the pain”

7 – September Morn by Neil Diamond (from September Morn, 1979)

Not from Neil’s best period to my ears, but from when he was an AOR icon. Still, a reasonable song that failed to chart in the UK but reached #17 in the main US singles chart. The album of the same name hit #10 in the US and #14 in the UK.

The album also includes a discofied version of the Motown classic Dancing In The Street, which is as embarrassing as you can probably imagine, and a truly awful remake of I’m A Believer, complete with steel drums.

8 – September by The Shins (from Port Of Morrow, 2012)

The Shins’ fourth album was their first since three of the four founding members moved on, leaving just singer and songwriter James Mercer.

This song doesn’t feature the title in its words, or any real reference to the seasons of the year. To call the lyrics rather impenetrable would be an understatement, including lines such as “and love is the ink in the well when her body writes” and “into this strange elastic world Pontus kindly gave up a pearl”.

However, this yearning number was apparently written by Mercer about his wife, documenting how he first saw her in the month of September.

9 – The September Of My Years by Frank Sinatra (from September Of My Years, 1965)

A beautifully written song about the passing of the years – Jimmy Van Heusen wrote the music with Sammy Cahn responsible for the words.

Sinatra recorded it shortly before his fiftieth birthday, when no doubt he was thinking about the ageing process more than before (and a year before he married third wife Mia Farrow, who was thirty years younger than him), with the song starting:

“One day you turn around and it’s summer, next day you turn around and it’s fall”

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Playlist

Here are seven of these nine on Spotify:

 

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One response to “September songs

  1. Thank you for a very fun read – so similar to the September Music Memory column I write for the Jazz Education Network.
    Sincerely,
    Fran Morris-Rosman, The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation in Los Angeles, California

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