Friday, July 17, 2009

Songs Called Songs: September Song

Willie Nelson: September Song


September Song was has words by Maxwell Anderson. Anderson was a famous playwright and novelist who won a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1933. Ha also was well known and highly regarded for his screenplays. The music is by Kurt Weill, who was best known for this song and the music for The Threepenny Opera. The song comes from a Broadway musical from 1938, Knickerbocker Holiday.

Anderson was a pacifist and anarchist who used Knickerbocker Holiday to criticize FDR as being a “fascist”. Nowadays, we think of President Roosevelt as the epitome of liberalism, but at the time he was criticized from the left as well as the right. Knickerbcker Holiday ran on Broadway for less than a year, and has been all but forgotten since.

But September Song has become a standard. The song is not at all political. Kurt Weill would later marry singer Lotte Lenye, and September Song would become her signature tune. There are any number of jazz versions, with and without vocals. Frank Sinatra recorded it. Even Lou Reed did a version. But Willie Nelson’s take on it is my favorite. It comes from Stardust, Nelson’s album of standards. If Nelson ever wants to do more of this, I’d like to know about it.

blog comments powered by Disqus