Posts Tagged ‘September Song’

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.

Read Full Post »


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

— September Song, Kurt Weill/ Maxwell Anderson


Ah, the beginning of September. As the songs says, the days grow short and the weather turns the leaves to flame. There’s a refreshing coolness in the air and the busy rhythm of summer eases away and in comes a slower, more relaxed cadence. Recognizing this dwindling of days brings a retrospective air to things, one that makes you realize that you can’t waste moments or wait for them to come to you. I always felt that I was in the September of life and now, being truly there in terms of years, I believe I was right.

Maybe that’s why this song has appealed to me for so many years now. It’s a song I play here every year at the beginning of this month and one that I often find myself humming without thought to myself. It is a gorgeous blend of melody and lyric that communicates on multiple levels.

I’ve played many versions over the years, including some absolutely beautiful versions from Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. I have never played the original version from actor Walter Huston in the 1938 Broadway production of Knickerbocker Holiday or a great instrumental version from Chet Baker. I’ll get to them at some point. My favorite is this one from Willie Nelson which seems to have the perfect blend of weariness and age in his voice to transmit the feeling of the song. At least, the feeling that I get from it.

The painting above is a favorite of mine from 2011 called Dissolve. It’s included in my show Icons & Exiles hanging until September 20 at the Octagon Gallery in Westfield, NY. This piece is what I would call a September painting.

Have a good day and, hopefully, a good September.

Read Full Post »

Another August passes by and September mercifully comes through the door. I am no fan of the month of August as I have documented here in the past. Just the saying the word brings up pangs of anxiety and unease, images of hazy heat rising under a glaring sunscape.

September, on the other hand, has connotations of coolness, shortening daylight and a quiet calmness. The cycle of life has the leaves on the trees beginning to take on color and they will soon be drifting to the ground. September has that same drifting to the ground feel that eases some of the angst of this world, at least for me.

A sigh breathed in August is different than one in September. August’s is one of frustration and in September it is one of relief.

So, as you can see, I am pleased to be in the first days of September where I can sigh freely.

As has been my habit for a number of years, I generally play a version of  one of my favorite songs, the classic September Song, at the beginning of the month. It has been recorded by so many artists that it’s not hard to find different performances of it each year. This year we are going with one from the legendary jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan. Beautiful version.

Enjoy and have a good day.

Read Full Post »

It’s the first of September and I let out a sigh of relief that August is behind me. I have confessed my dislike of August here in the past. For me, it’s usually a month of heat and anxiety, a month in which every bad thing seems to find me.

But this August was kinder and gentler and I am truly thankful. I know that this has not been the case for others across the country. Most notably, a storm of biblical proportions named Harvey that swept across the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana. You know the story too well.

If you can, reach into your pocketbooks and send what you can to help them out in some way. It’s the right thing to do.

September always gets me a little melancholy but in a good way. More wistful and nostalgic than sad. It’s a feeling that seems more pronounced as I find myself actually in what could be the September of my life. When this time comes I feel like looking at black and white photos and listening to September Song, which, if you think about it, is a very black and white song.

I acme across this photo of my old studio which stands up the hill from my home and current studio. It is slowly being reclaimed by the forest around it and will someday no longer exist. I like that idea of impermanence for this studio. It was almost meant to be that way as an indicator of how small we are in the face of nature, as Harvey is currently showing us.

I have included an early blog entry from 2008 that describes it along with this year’s version of September Song, which is from Johnny Hartman, jazz vocalist that is probably unknown to most of you. I know that he was off my radar. But his voice is beautifully strong and smooth and this is a lovely, faithful version of the iconic song.

  This is a photo from a book, In Their Studios: Artists & Their Environment  from the photographer, Barbara Hall Blumer.  It was a project that she carried out in 2007 documenting the studios of visual artists in the general area of the southern Finger Lakes, centering on Corning, NY, which has a vibrant artistic community.  The result was a beautiful book that gives insight into the work spaces and habits of many artists.  For me it was interesting to be able to peek into a bit of other artists’ lives.  I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in the process of art.

This is my first studio, one that I built in 1997 and worked in until January of this year [2008], when I moved into a much larger and slightly better appointed studio.  This first studio was located in the woods that above my home and gave me what I called the best commute around, a short walk each morning up the hill through dense and fairly young forest of mixed hardwoods and white pines.  Sometimes I would stop and wonder at my good fortune to have the luxury and pleasure of this walk each day.

It was a very rustic space without running water (and the facilities associated with running water!) or a lot of heat for that matter but it served me well for ten years and its setting had a presence in much of my work.  It was very tranquil and from its windows I had great views of the woods and wildlife–  deer, gray and red fox, coyotes, raccoons (who at one point made their way into my roof) and even a weasel chasing after a rabbit. In the winter it would be spectacular as the snow would cling to the white pine branches almost to the ground.

Again, I wondered how I was so lucky…

Read Full Post »

GC Myers- Where the Winds Gather smAugust has been vanquished, mercifully.

I could feel it yesterday as though just getting rid of that word August from the dateline lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.  The same concerns are there and little has changed but there was just a subtle and perceptible psychic shift.  Maybe the cooler temperatures and the slight breeze that hung around for much of the day added to the perception as well.

Whatever the case, it was good to see August depart and September enter the picture.  The days and months ahead always seem to better fit my natural mood and demeanor.

I like to start the month by playing some version of the great old classic September Song, long one of my favorites.  Written by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, it was first sung, surprisingly, by Walter Huston in the stage production of Knickerbocker Holiday back in 1938.  Since then it has been covered by literally many hundreds of musicians and singers throughout the world and most of them are pretty damn good versions.  It’s just that good a song.

It’s a bittersweet and slightly melancholy reflection on the passing of time, that inevitable march to old age symbolized in the turning of leaves and the shortening of the days.  These precious days, as the song says.

It’s a great pleasure going through the many versions online but I thought I’d share the Bryan Ferry version this year.  I was never a huge Bryan Ferry fan but I did like some his work with Roxy Music as well as some of his solo work.  His voice works well in this delicately sung version.  Enjoy and remember to take some pleasure in these precious days.

Read Full Post »

GC Myers- September Song sm

GC Myers- September Song 2014

August has finally and thankfully passed.  You would think as one gets older you would want to hold on to every moment–every day, week and month– but August never passes quickly enough for me.  This distaste for August has given September an almost magical appeal.  The very sound of the word feels cool and easy in my mind.

Relieved from the hard edges and sharpness of August, September brings cooler air and falling leaves.  Time passes just as quickly but there is a calmness which allows for reflection.  In September, I often find myself stopping and just standing,  looking into the sky and absorbing the moment, glad to just be where I am.

Maybe that’s why I love the old song September Song.  It’s a wistful reflection on the passing of time and aging.  Composed by Kurt Weill, it was written for  and  first recorded by Walter Huston for the Broadway play Knickerbocker Holiday in which he plays Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of New Amsterdam (present day New York) in the 1600’s.

The play didn’t have much success but the song, written for Huston’s limited vocal range and rough voice, has lived on as one of the great standards of modern music, recorded by scores of artists over the years. Today I thought I would play a beautiful version from the one and only Ella Fitzgerald.  As I look out of my studio window, it is cool and foggy and the words and sound of this song just feel so right for the first day of September.

Have a great day.

Read Full Post »

GC Myers- Septemebr SongIt’s hard to believe that September is upon us already.  September always has a contemplative feel, a pause after the hustle and bustle of the summer months before making the transformation into the cooler, grayer months.  The leaves begin to turn.  The days get shorter. The air takes on a cool hardness that is a keen reminder of the coming coldness of the winter.

One of my favorite songs is the classic tune from Kurt Weill, September Song.  It’s been recorded by literally hundreds of artists through the years from many genres, from Jimmy Durante to James Brown to Lou Reed.  Willie Nelson does a rendition that is very delicate, maintaining the tenuous nature of the tune.  Just a lovely version.  I’ve included it at the bottom.

The image here is a new piece, a 6″ by 10″ painting on paper that I am calling September Song.  It is part of a group that will be accompanying me for the trip to the Principle Gallery on September 13th, when I will be giving a gallery talk there.  More info on that later. This painting has a wistful feel, as though the tiny figure is pausing on the path to reflect on where he has been, what he has seen and done.  The sun above and the churning rays of light emanating from it represent the inevitability of time, of change.   I wasn’t sure what to title this painting but when I realized that we were into September, the tune immediately came to mind and the narrative of the scene filled out for me.

Now, I am going to give a listen to Willie as he sings September Song:

Read Full Post »

It’s that time of the year.  Cooler.  Darker at the edges with leaves coming down.  A   feeling of reflection comes with this turn from summer to autumn and it inevitably brings to my mind  September Song, the old Kurt Weill standard.  It is high on my list of favorite songs and at this time of the year I tend to seek out versions of it that I haven’t yet heard.  There are so many to find by such a wide array of artists, from Sinatra to Lou Reed.

I came across the version below from a guitarist I bet most of us have never heard before, Lenny Breau.  I know that I didn’t know his name or work, which is  a shame given the scope of his talent.  He was a great jazz guitarist who died in 1984 at the age of 43 ,  the result of a murder which remains unsolved to this day.  Another shame.  But he left behind a body of work that is wonderful and his playing is well known in some circles.

His version of September Song comes from a CD,  Boy Wonder,  that was released after his death.  It contains a group of work that he recorded as a 15 year-old  when he was a studio musician in his native Maine.  Beautiful work for such a young player which does this always lovely song great justice.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: