September! When I made a monthly music-themed mix, September won. At this very moment I’m obsessively listening to this song, “Don’t Wait,” by Maipei. John finds the vocals too computer-processed, but it’s important to note that they are too computer-processed in an Air-song-from-1998 way, and not in a T-Pain-song-from-2008 way.
But obviously when September rolls around, this ticking, percussive guitar/synth/O HAI ITS THE HORNZ thing comes to mind. Firstly, are those, like, daishikis from outer space, or Chinese-inspired sequined outfits from outer space, what say ye? Secondly, John notes no one goes for the balding afro anymore. A man in that position nowadays would shave his head. Not Maurice White. He has the sexual self-confidence to rock this balding afro with pride.
Feel free to tell me “September” is some disco bullshit compared to “Evil” or “Shining Star.” I will ignore your reasonably well-supported claim because WAIIIAIIAIIIAIIsay do you rememberWAIIIAIII…
But for real what is the saddest most beautiful song about September? Obviously Big Star’s “September Gurls.” I have told you all before of my tragic simultaneous discovery that a) my dad knows Alex Chilton and b) he isn’t talking to him.
Scene: Belle’s house in S.C., which smells of boiled peanuts, and salt from the marsh, and rather as if someone has been burning cannabis sativa scented incense for the last near 50 years. (N.B. what had happened was, was that someone has been lighting at minimum 8 sticks a day up in there since 1967. Every day tho.) This latent smell is re-activated each time anyone sparks up a new one and is indescribably deep and layered and pervasive and delicious. It stabs my heart with homesickness though I don’t anymore partake myself.
Belle reverentially puts her new Big Star CD and prepares to eat watermelon that has been in the mini-cooler packed with ice all morning and drink a mason jar of sweet tea over ice. So sweet of tea. The sweetest tea. (Well, but not Statesboro sweet; in Statesboro they put two packets of Sweet-n-Low (saccharine) into the rubbermaid plastic pitcher at the end. It’ll make your damn teeth hurt from sweetness.)
“King B” Waring, cocking a thoughtful ear: “is that Alex Chilton?”
Belle, confused but not surprised since her dad knows everything about music: “…yes?”
“King B” Waring: “I know that guy.”
Belle, now trembling with excitement: “you do?”
“King B” Waring: “He’s an asshole.”
Belle, quietly freaking out: “you’re not, like, talking to him or anything?”
“King B” Waring: “Naw. He’s up in Memphis. I haven’t talked to him in years. Fuck him. That guy’s an asshole.”
My dad makes enemies, my dad cuts people off, my dad does not change his mind. (Except about family, he’s been awesome to me and come around to forgiving me when I have been a complete and utter ass myself.) I don’t even know what Alex Chilton did that pissed my dad off! I swear, it was one thing at a party at our house in 1974. Like, he had too many quaaludes and bourbon and hit on my mom, or took a swing at my godfather or rolled a really unreasonable series of joints. I guess I should grill my dad about it next time, for the sake of historical accuracy. In any case, surprise cover version: the Bangles, live in Pittsburgh in 1986!
Good, right? What did you listen to this summer? The girls and I have a tradition that when we get into the town car that takes us to JFK from our hotel in NY the radio is always playing the song of the summer, like, to where it makes us laugh. One time the car company sent us a white stretch limo instead of a normal sedan, with a huge amoeba-shaped neon light fixture on the ceiling that changed color, and I was wearing a hat with a peacock feather fascinator on it (this was because you can’t pack hats or they’ll get crushed, as hatboxes are no more, and fascinators are likewise delicate). I had to get out of the limo to use an ATM in Queens and I felt like such an idiot. Of course “Paparazzi” was blaring when we got in. This year as soon as we got into the car “Talk Dirty to Me” came on (“Talk Yiddish to Me” reclaims the klezmer horn riff), followed by “Fancy,” and we got to laugh and try to hold our breath through the long, endless cemeteries on the other side of the mid-town tunnel. It’s no use. When you turn back the gravestones make a skyline backed by the real one, the Manhattan skyline, America receding and the song of the summer playing and our driver—always, because I ask—telling us about his home country.