Friday, September 3, 2010

September in Song

It's Labor Day weekend and somehow Summer 2010 is officially coming to a close. For those of us in Chicago, it was as far-too-brutally hot a summer as it was a far-too-brutally snowy winter, so for once I can't say I'm all that sorry to see it coming to an end.

Weather-wise, early September is probably one of my favorite times of year. The humidity is gone and there's a crispness to the air that hints at the coming winter without reminding you how much you're actually going to hate that.

September is one of my favorite times of the year musically as well. Maybe it's the end-of-summer blues, but for some reason, many artists have chosen to write contemplative, slightly uneasy, moving, bitter or beautiful songs about the waning days of summer and all the emotions that can accompany that transition. Without further ado, here are my Top Five September Songs. Put 'em on your iPod and go enjoy these precious few weeks of glorious pre-fall weather.

5. Wake Me Up When September Ends by Green Day

We'll start with the most recent. This one is bitter to the max, overplayed on the radio to the max and not even really one of my personal favorites. But it is September-themed and most of the other songs on this list are a bit dated, so I thought I'd include something hip for the kids. Green Day gets angsty in a formulaic, high school way. Whatever they're crying about probably won't matter at all in a few years. Wake them up...or don't.

4. September by Earth, Wind and Fire

OK, now we're getting somewhere. Unlike Green Day's effort, this song can't get enough of September, which is more like how I feel about it. The song revels in how much fun Earth, Wind and Fire had in a particular September and compels you to remember it, too. Also, it's really catchy. Your foot is tapping right now. You didn't even notice.

Bonus: YouTube band Pomplamoose provides an equally foot-tapping cover!

3. September in the Rain by Frank Sinatra

If you get past the opening riff that sounds like an off-key version of the theme from Jeopardy, you'll hear Sinatra's pretty little rendition of this pop standard. It manages to be sentimental and wistful without being emo. Take a note, Green Day. This song originally appeared on what is arguably my favorite Sinatra album, Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!!. Any album that has three exclamation points in its title has got to be good.

2. September Grass by James Taylor

I came across this song randomly on Pandora and was taken in by the smooth guitar licks and the fact that James Taylor's voice hasn't changed at all despite his long, hard livin' career. This song came out in 2002, but Sweet Baby James has still got it and does a great job integrating wistful end-of-summer imagery into an easy listening love song.

1. The Summer Wind by Frank Sinatra

Ah, yes. Old Blue Eyes (and he was already past the September of His Years when he recorded this song) gives us the official song for the end of the summer. Any summer. Every summer. And he doesn't even have to mention September. The song's arrangement evokes exactly what Sinatra is singing about and even sort of sounds like that crisp wind blowing through the trees that I mentioned earlier. I can't explain it. Also, the song is used as part of the score in Matchstick Men, which by extension is a great movie to watch during this time of year. (but that's a separate list for a separate post)

What other end-of-summer songs should I be listening to? Now is the time!

1 comment:

Joezilla said...

Check out an alternate version of this song that I found on Youtube! It's cool to hear how similar the band sounds, but how he interprets the song differently, even in different takes at the same recording session! Now that's a pro...