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Archive for September 12th, 2020

Kurt Weill. Who Wrote “September Song” with Maxwell Anderson


 

The summer ended. Day by day, and taking its time, the summer ended. The noises in the street began to change, diminish, voices became fewer, the music sparse. Daily, blocks and blocks of children were spirited away. Grownups retreated from the streets, into the houses. Adolescents moved from the sidewalk to the stoop to the hallway to the stairs, and rooftops were abandoned. Such trees as there were allowed their leaves to fall – they fell unnoticed – seeming to promise, not without bitterness, to endure another year. At night, from a distance, the parks and playgrounds seemed inhabited by fireflies, and the night came sooner, inched in closer, fell with a greater weight. The sound of the alarm clock conquered the sound of the tambourine, the houses put on their winter faces. The houses stared down a bitter landscape, seeming, not without bitterness, to have resolved to endure another year.”

― James Baldwin, Just Above My Head


In this strangest of years, September has crept in without barely any notice for me. Much in the way August departed. I barely noticed the comings and goings, even though time seems to drag in these days of waiting for what might come next.

In doing so, I have neglected playing what might be my favorite song as I do every year at this time. The son is September Song, written by Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson for the 1938 Broadway show Knickerbocker Holiday. It was written in just a few hours after the show’s star, Walter Huston, requested that he have a solo  song in the show.

Of course, in doing so, the composers had to account for Huston’s limited vocal range. The result though is a song that has become one of the great standards, covered by an incredibly wide range of artists. I have played versions from Willie Nelson, Bryan Ferry and Lou Reed along with the more well known jazz vocalists.

The song is just lovely in a most wistful way and these days we can all use something lovely and even wistful. Here’s such a version from the great Sarah Vaughan.

Have a good day.

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