Saturday Single No. 704

Among the 81,000-some tracks on the digital shelves, there are a bunch that name “September” in their titles. How many is a bunch? I don’t know. Let’s find out, taking the first half of the alphabet this week and the second half in a couple of posts over the next week.

Alphabetically, the first one that shows up is “23 Days In September” by Richie Havens, from his 1973 album Portfolio. The same song shows up again with a slightly different title: Its writer, David Blue, used it as the title track for his 1968 album These 23 Days In September. Blue’s version of a lover in depression and a love fading into silence is languid with some nice sonic touches; Havens’ take is faster, driven by his acoustic guitar work.

Then we come to Teddy & The Pandas’ “68 Days To September,” a poppy 1968 tribute to the girl the singer will miss during summer vacation: “Things will be so fine when we’re together again . . .”

“Black September/Belfast” from Mason Proffit’s 1972 album, Bare Back Rider, is an odd an disconcerting piece of work, focusing on the murder of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches by Black September terrorists during the summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, in 1972 and citing as well the concurrent sectarian Troubles in Belfast at the same time. References to U.S. Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and to the ongoing war in Vietnam make it all seem a little scattershot, despite evocative, haunting music.

And from that we go to easy listening maestro Mantovani taking on a tune by country singer Hank Thompson: “Come September (I’ll Remember)” is two minutes and forty-one seconds of shimmering strings, the kind of stuff I remember KFAM-FM playing in St. Cloud during the mid- and late 1960s. Beautiful music, you know.

Up next is is a Wall of Sound-ish piece less than a minute long from Brit Paul Weller. “The Dark Pages Of September Lead To The New Leaves Of Spring” comes from his 2008 album 22 Dreams, where I imagine it served as a transition between two longer pieces. I’ll have to go back and verify that some year.

There are two versions of Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September” in the stacks here: King’s original, which went to No. 22 in 1962, and a cover by Peggy Lipton from 1968, when Lipton was one of the stars of the TV show The Mod Squad. King’s version is pretty standard Tin Pan Alley pop, while Lipton’s is more subtle, almost easy listening with some nice saxophone work in the background. But Lipton’s sometimes uncertain voice seems overpowered by the production. If I could have King’s voice with the production Lipton had behind her, I’d be very happy.

‘It’s September” by Stax man Johnnie Taylor starts in September and chugs and grooves through the autumn and then – by the end of the record – the entire year, wondering where his woman is while he and the children wonder when life will get back to normal. The 1974 release got to No. 26 on the Billboard R&B chart.

The last track we find in the first half of the alphabet comes from the Dream Academy, perhaps best known for the 1985 hit “Life In A Northern Town.” Today we’re listening to “Lucy September,” a tale, it quickly becomes apparent, about an addict:

Lucy September’s put a hole in her arm
She wonders where all daddy’s money’s gone
Lying on the bed with a wasted friend
Oh yeah she could have been someone
With all the advantages under the sun
But sad to say this is where her story ends

It’s an okay piece of work, but not quite to my taste this morning.

So what is our choice this morning? Well, David Blue’s track haunts me, as his work seemingly does whenever it pops up here. That makes his “These 23 Days In September” today’s Saturday Single.

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