Not to Mention, I Respect You With My Art

by Belle Waring on September 5, 2014

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.

{ 58 comments }

1

Corey Robin 09.05.14 at 5:56 am

“But for real what is the saddest most beautiful song about September?”

Is there any contest?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdc4oBnu_fw

Though I love this version too:

2

Belle Waring 09.05.14 at 8:10 am

Ohhh, possibly pwned. But not. But excellent point.

3

NomadUK 09.05.14 at 8:49 am

Aw, c’mon:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycPoxZ1NPBY&w=420&h=315

(Always interesting to see actors doing things so seemingly out of character. Jerry Orbach?)

4

NomadUK 09.05.14 at 8:50 am

Meh. Comments.

5

Emma in Sydney 09.05.14 at 10:29 am

Corey, you speak my thoughts. This was one of my dad’s favourites, and we sang it to him in his hospital bed. He died in December. It’s been a long year, and it’s only September.

6

Main Street Muse 09.05.14 at 10:30 am

Bangles, Earth WInd & Fire, Django Reinhardt! Best music thread ever!

7

Jim Buck 09.05.14 at 11:29 am

…remember the day, my daddy died

8

rea 09.05.14 at 11:34 am

my tragic simultaneous discovery that a) my dad knows Alex Chilton and b) he isn’t talking to him.

Well, not many people are these days.

9

bill benzon 09.05.14 at 12:17 pm

10 points for Corey. I was thinking the same thing. Sinatra (the part we all know starts at 1:23, the stuff before is, well, it’s there on almost all those B’way songs, but it’s almost never sung outside of the show context):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjiVbaA1-sc&w=420&h=315

On “Don’t Wait” – the bass! the bass! rocks. I agree w/ Belle, the autotune is OK.

10

Ronan(rf) 09.05.14 at 12:58 pm

I still hold out hope that Weird Al Yankovic will get around to recording ‘September Corn’

11

John Holbo 09.05.14 at 1:28 pm

rea: I have other elderly relatives who hold seances.

12

Belle Waring 09.05.14 at 1:28 pm

that was me, obvs.

13

BKN in Canadia 09.05.14 at 1:31 pm

Thanks for brightening my morning with the EWF gem. Like many straight white male teens of the time I hated disco, but even then, that song was undeniable. My favourite version (too lazy to link) is live from Brazil. That audience gets it, and is putting on an even bigger show than EWF themselves.

14

Lyle 09.05.14 at 3:25 pm

@13,

Thanks, that does look like a ton of fun (though the audio quality here doesn’t sound like a ton of fun, etc.).

15

NickS 09.05.14 at 3:54 pm

Corey my have already won the thread, but I have to mention “September When It Comes“. It didn’t work last time I tried it, but let me see if I can embed that:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2WilM6ljUg?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360

16

Damien Warman 09.05.14 at 3:54 pm

Obligatory Pomplamoose: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xycnv87N_BU

(Here it is spring, and September to me signals the imminent onset of summer.)

17

mud man 09.05.14 at 5:21 pm

@1: It’s a silly song. And it skips right over October, which down east is as good as it gets.

18

rea 09.05.14 at 10:31 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtmEjXZx340

Jesse Norman does Richard Strauss . . .

19

js. 09.05.14 at 11:47 pm

That Mapei song is good! I’m not sure I totally love the vocals, but the instrumentation is super. Thanks! (And I’d somehow managed to get through the last 3 months or so of my life without listening to September Gurls. This has now been righted.)

20

parse 09.05.14 at 11:54 pm

I found this version a couple of years ago when I was looking for soul versions of songs from musicals. James doesn’t sound particularly sad, but I like it anyway.

21

js. 09.06.14 at 12:23 am

I have a hard time getting into show tunes-y stuff, but the JB version is awesome! (I know, shocker.)

22

Martin Bento 09.06.14 at 12:25 am

Corey may have beat me to the Kurt Weill, but here’s another great fall-themed standard:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50zL8TnMBN8&w=420&h=315

23

Martin Bento 09.06.14 at 12:27 am

Alright, what’s the trick to making embed code work here again? Anyway, here’s Moondog:

24

Martin Bento 09.06.14 at 12:28 am

Oh, just use the URL instead of the embed code. OK. Here’s Ella and Louis again:

25

godoggo 09.06.14 at 1:06 am

I think Sarah’s version of September Song is probably my favorite. I imagine it’s probably on youtube… Oh, what the hell, here it is.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otPzP4YYFpE
I won’t mention Lou Reed’s version though. There, I just lied. I’m a liar.

26

Martin Bento 09.06.14 at 1:09 am

Sarah’s is my favorite too.

27

Martin Bento 09.06.14 at 1:11 am

BTW, as I recall now the hocus-pocusery, you have to not have any more text after the URL if you want the video to automatically embed.

28

Belle Waring 09.06.14 at 2:05 am

You can see how October got the shaft in the mix. I mean, you can’t even give it pity Decemberist songs.

29

Corey Robin 09.06.14 at 2:05 am

I believe there is a version of Kurt Weill actually sing September Song. I think I heard a bit of it on NPR once, but now I can’t find it anywhere. Anyone know of it?

30

Corey Robin 09.06.14 at 2:09 am

How is that no one has mentioned this classic? You guys are way too fancy.

31

ZM 09.06.14 at 2:16 am

It is the beginning of Spring here, so quite cheerful and lovely with the flowers. It is also the ending of the football season which is very important to many people, so this is the only Australian September song I can think of, although possibly there are other Spring related and not -football related ones but I can’t bring them to mind

32

Corey Robin 09.06.14 at 2:20 am

Actually, I mis-remembered this. It wasn’t September Song that there’s a recording of Weill singing; it was this, possibly even more lovely song.

33

J Thomas 09.06.14 at 2:38 am

Forever Autumn

34

Tom Slee 09.06.14 at 2:51 am

Van Morrison seems to have a thing for September. There’s “September Night” from Inarticulate Speech of the Heart, (in September) “When the Leaves Come Falling Down”, but mainly “A Cold Wind in August” which may be cheating, but it “pushed on through September, in the rain.”

35

PJW 09.06.14 at 2:53 am

“Let us make a pledge to meet in September…”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvP42bkrhO4&feature=youtube_gdata_player

36

godoggo 09.06.14 at 3:24 am

Obviously the only way you’re ever going to see a country song in one of Belle’s music posts is if somebody else links one.

37

godoggo 09.06.14 at 4:04 am

Zing. :p

38

js. 09.06.14 at 6:41 am

Also, totally unrelated! But! (a) Any mention of the Bangles is a good enough excuse, and (b) it’s kinda sorta a September song if you about it hard enough.

39

js. 09.06.14 at 6:43 am

HTML fails me! The right Bangles link.

40

Belle Waring 09.06.14 at 7:49 am

You’re tripping godoggo. I love me some country music. When I was little my parents had a 6-LP box set called “The History of Country Music,” must have come out in like 1966 or something. We played it a lot in our failed hippie business venture “The Sweetfield Leather Co” on River St. in Savannah, GA. (The previous owner had been cooking the books; we never had a chance. Also, one of our partners decided we could do better dealing weed, which we did, but it caused divisions among the communal leadership.) It smelled the best of anything in the world, that place, on the second floor especially, where we cut up and dyed the hides, and used pedal-driven sewing machines with heavy waxed thread to sew the bags and belts. There were periodic announcements, sort of, like on the radio, on those albums, where a bunch of people would sing in harmony, “the history…of country MUsic!”I’ll make my next post about country music just for you.

41

dsquared 09.06.14 at 9:50 am

31: this September related song was a domestic hot in Australia even though it’s lyrics make no sense at all for the southern hemisphere

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TtqnOPArMRw

42

ZM 09.06.14 at 11:53 am

dsquared,

In Australia we just get used to reversing seasons and thinking about other countries’ seasons and flora and fauna as normal and our own as moderately unusual. I found another song about September by a band from Sydney, but it mentions California – so I am not sure it is about September in the Southern Hemisphere after all sadly

http://youtu.be/ybdCOVkL88s

I found a old poem by Henry Kendall which is nice called September in Australia, but I have unfortunately not found it put to music anywhere, the last verse runs

“Oh, season of changes—of shadow and shine—
September the splendid!
My song hath no music to mingle with thine,
And its burden is ended;
But thou, being born of the winds and the sun,
By mountain, by river,
Mayst lighten and listen, and loiter and run,
With thy voices for ever. “

43

NickS 09.06.14 at 3:49 pm

Obviously the only way you’re ever going to see a country song in one of Belle’s music posts is if somebody else links one.

I believe Belle’s country music bona fides but, since I didn’t get them embedding to work last time, I’ll use this an excuse to plug “September when it comes” again. A song by county music royalty, written by Rosanne Cash, and performed as a duet with Johnny, recorded when he was close to his death — I haven’t seen the recording date, but the album was released six months before Cash’s death (in September of 2003).

Rosanne says, this about the process:

“He was in bad health, he got very ill for a while,” Rosanne said at the time. “I was facing my dad’s mortality for the first time. It’s deeply unsettling when you come to that point in your life when your parents suddenly become frail and ill. Of course, I was very affected by it. So I called him—I was going down to Nashville anyway—and I said, ‘Dad, I’m going to bring the tape, and if you’re feeling well enough when I’m down there….’ He said, ‘I can’t promise, but if I feel well enough I will.’ And I could tell that morning he really didn’t feel well, but he said he would do it. So we went over to the little studio he has in the woods.”

As her father learned the song, Rosanne says, his energy started to perk up. “He was getting into doing it,” she recalled, smiling. “And then he was calling for more takes: ‘No, let me try that part again!’ When we finished, I said, ‘Dad, it’s beautiful, you sound great.’” . . . Her dad, of course, later told her, “You know, I really could have done it better.”

Trying one more time.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/J2WilM6ljUg?feature=player_detailpage

44

godoggo 09.06.14 at 8:25 pm

I guess I might as well note that that Merle Haggard song seems to be just an inferior retread of “If We Can Make It Through December” and admit that I’d never even heard of it before, but it seemed an obvious thing to google.

45

godoggo 09.06.14 at 8:27 pm

… apparently the correct title is “If We Make It Through December”

46

godoggo 09.06.14 at 9:48 pm

I shall now embed “September When I Comes,” by Roseanne and Johnny Cash, successfully, on the very 1st attempt. Ha!

47

NickS 09.06.14 at 10:33 pm

Now you’re just taunting me. . . Though I feel don’t feel as incompetent as I might have because I see that you misspelled the title of the song.

48

Wallace Stevens 09.07.14 at 12:02 am

I like this version of September Song a lot:

49

mdc 09.07.14 at 3:23 am

Hey, let’s not forget the 16th century! “Within her Bosom is September” is a pretty fresh line from the madrigal “April Is in my Mistress’ Face,” Thomas Morley.

50

js. 09.07.14 at 6:00 am

Corey @30:

Somehow missed this earlier, but that Happenings song is great!

51

TheSophist 09.07.14 at 6:41 am

Not a September title, but credit perhaps for the lyric “September skies, Bodies falling Never again will you catch me admiring Those vast September skies.”

And besides, any excuse for Cowboy Junkies…

52

JPL 09.07.14 at 10:39 am

godoggo @25:

Yeh man! Sassy is the best! That last line is a killer: “Not January, February, June or July …. September!” An arrow straight through the heart.

Now I have to go for another nice song for this time of year, “Early Autumn”. Ella is no doubt the locus classicus, and my favourite version (by Vanessa Rubin, a more contemporary jazz interpretation) is not available on YouTube, but this version by Patricia Barber gives it a samba beat that counteracts nicely the possible saudade of the slow standard version. (Make sure you listen right to the end.)

53

JPL 09.07.14 at 11:48 am

Speaking of samba and saudade, and in response to some comments above on the lack of seasonal songs from the globe’s southern half, I love this beautiful song by Tom Jobim and Chico Buarque called “Anos Dourados”. It has an impression of December’s meaning from a southern point of view. There’s something about the angle of light when the earth reaches that point in its annual trek.

54

Jonathan 09.07.14 at 3:20 pm

“September” is a triumph of the human spirit and Maurice White is a god.

But while “September” is a song about September (or “September”, rather), it is not a song for September. Let’s talk again in December.

55

mrearl 09.07.14 at 6:44 pm

The Lou Reed is one of my favorites, too, but I tell you there is no substitute for Walter Huston, firstest with the mostest:

56

mrearl 09.07.14 at 6:56 pm

And, if this moves you not, you ain’t got soul:

57

nnyhav 09.08.14 at 2:50 am

and a pony
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_TMtgjQuZI&w=640&h=390
(sweetiebelle?!)

(just cuz, econblog can haz it: “What’s the problem even with the stronger rule that one must quote directly and only quote directly when one criticizes ? Would we run out of pixels ? I think the rule should be cut and paste and if you insist elide but don’t ever paraphrase when criticizing. This is now the editorial policy of this blog (catch me in comments and you will get the fame that comes when your comment is pulled back to the main window of a 50 hits a day blog). I also wrote a comment which notes that we will obtain objectivity no sooner than nirvana, immortality and a pony. “
RJWaldmann on conspiracies to misconstrue )

58

James Langdell 09.09.14 at 3:16 pm

Here’s another tune for the start of the season in this month.

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