Saturday Single No. 410

I had a very pleasant birthday yesterday, marking sixty-one years on the planet with a couple of nice meals, lots of greetings on Facebook and a quiet evening at home. I lunched with my mom at Jimmy’s Pour House in Sauk Rapids, and after running a few errands with her, I headed home, and as I did, I recalled a long-ago birthday lunch.

During the years I was growing up, turning twenty-one was a big deal. It meant – as it does again now – that one can legally buy beer and liquor. As I approached twenty-one in September of 1974, that had changed. In the late spring of 1973, the legal drinking age in Minnesota changed to eighteen, leaving thousands of suddenly legal young folks who had anticipated their first drinks on their twenty-first birthdays vaguely dissatisfied (although they were allowed to legally mitigate their dissatisfactions with beer or margaritas or whatever). I was one of those vaguely dissatisfied folks, and my first legal drink – which I likely have mentioned before in this space – was a brandy and water recommended by my father one evening when we went for dinner. It’s a drink I shall never have again.

Thus, by the time my twenty-first birthday came along in 1974, I’d been drinking legally for something like fifteen months (with about half of that time spent happily quaffing European beers, mostly Danish, in their places of origin). But on that September 5 in 1974 – it was a Thursday – some of the folks at The Table in St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center decided that I needed to mark my twenty-first birthday with a celebration. So we squeezed into a couple of cars and headed to Little John’s Pub in the mall at the west end of town.

After some sandwiches and a couple of pitchers of Grain Belt Premium (a good, if basic, lager brewed in Minneapolis at the time), we wobbled back to campus and whatever else a Thursday afternoon would bring. It was a far more raucous lunch than my mom and I had yesterday at Jimmy’s, and far more raucous, too, than the dinner the Texas Gal and I had yesterday evening at the Ace Bar & Grill. But all three events were celebrating in their ways the same thing: the successful passage through another year on this blue planet and our wishes for similar success as the next stage of the voyage continues.

And it seems to me that the first full day of that next stage needs a September song. After considering Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” Frank Sinatra’s “The September Of My Years” and a few others, I’ve decided to go instrumental and minimal this morning. Here’s Chet Baker’s 1959 take on the classic and somewhat melancholy “September Song.” Even though I am not at all melancholy this morning, it’s nevertheless today’s Saturday Single.

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