September Songs 2

We’re going to pick up where we left off earlier this month, exploring songs on the digital stacks with “September” in their titles. We got not quite halfway through the alphabet last time, ending with a tune titled “Lucy September” by the Dream Academy. On to the letter M and beyond!

Quite a ways beyond, in fact. We have to head into the letter S before we find the next tune, a 1965 single titled “Sad September” by Grady & Brady. “It’s gonna be a sad September” because the guy’s girl – who promised last spring to come back when school started – met someone else and has possibly left town. (The latter is not clear.) The sweet but unimaginative record, which showed clearly that the two had listened to a lot of Everly Brothers tunes, was the third for the duo, the first coming on the Dolton label credited to Grady & Brady Sneed and the other two on Planetary credited to just Grady & Brady. As far as I can see, they got no chart action at all.

Then we come onto two versions of “See You In September.” We have the Tempos’ original from 1959 (No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100), and the Happenings’ cover from 1966 (No. 3). The Tempos were from Pittsburgh, and their version is passable but a little stiff, and it has what a music professor colleague of mine from long ago called “an MGM ending,” which doesn’t seem to work. But maybe it doesn’t work because I remember the Happenings’ version from 1966, which at points could easily be mistaken for the work of the Four Seasons. Closer listening shows that’s not so, but still, there’s more excitement in the Happenings’ version of the tune. And the background chants of “Bye-bye! So long! Farewell!” rule.

There are twenty-one tracks on the digital shelves whose titles essentially start with the word “September.” I count six versions of “September Song,” five of “September In The Rain,” two of “The September Of My Years” (both of those – one live and one in the studio – by Frank Sinatra), and several single versions of tracks that name the month in their titles.

We’ll consider the five versions of “September In The Rain.” The earliest is a 1937 take on the tune by Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, with vocals by Carmen Lombardo. As one might expect, it’s pretty and competent big band music. Twenty-four years later, Dinah Washington made the song the title track of a 1961 album. Her version is more rhythmic but still pretty standard pop jazz, except for the idiosyncratic quality of her voice. It went to No. 23 on the Hot 100 and to No. 5 on both the magazine’s R&B and Easy Listening charts, but it leaves me wanting something more.

In 1963, easy listening maestro Ray Charles took hold of the song, slowing it down a little too much and sanding the rough spots off entirely. The version by his Ray Charles Singers on the album Autumn Moods is a bit smooth and slick for even my easy listening-tolerant tastes. A year later, Chad & Jeremy did a tasteful version of the tune for their album Yesterday’s Gone, a take on the tune that I kind of like, maybe because of the harmonica solo.

And in 1971, a group called Aeroplane released a version of “September In The Rain” on singles in both France and West Germany, according to the website 45cat. Their take on the tune came my way in the Lost Jukebox project that showed up online some years ago (as did the single by Grady & Brady at the top of this piece), and the on-line discography for that venture indicates that the version I have is one of the two French releases on the Pink Elephant label. Aeroplane gives the tune a folk-rock setting that seems to work pretty well.

We’ll leave the rest of the September songs for another day in the next week and take a listen today to the only charting version of “September In The Rain,” Dinah Washington’s 1961 take on the tune:

Tags:

Leave a Reply