September: The Consummate Composition (“Never Was A Cloudy Day”)

From the moment Al McKay’s suspenseful, head-bopping guitar intro awakens me from my spiritual slumber, I’m tapping my toe to the accompaniment of the metronome-like “tock-tock-tock” (and “ding dong” chime on 4 and 1). It creates an indescribable energy surge within me as the bass drum kicks in on 1 and 3, ushering in the thunderous trombone, saxophone and screaming trumpet’s royal announcement to the kingdom that the universe’s most important question is about to be asked, all within the first 20 seconds:

Do you remember…?” asks the legendary genius that is/was Maurice White (supported by the rhythm guitar’s ‘klanga-langa-nink-dink’) “the 21st night of September? (‘klanga-langa-nink-dink’)

Love was changing the minds of pretenders, while chasing the clouds away…

The fanfare of the mighty Phenix Horns (no, that wasn’t a typo) quickly builds majestically, exposing us to the first verse with a resounding barrage of staccato-like 16th notes in perfect harmony and precision.

I’m already lost in my euphoric state by the time the second verse begins. It envelopes me with even greater intensity, enhanced by the erotic caress of the sweet violins as they flow through my audio canals like mellifluous soul-honey, nourishing my famished existence. It is the score-play before the eargasm that we all know and love as the chorus…

Bah-de-ya” and the question is asked again, but this time, by soprano Philip Bailey in his famously powerful falsetto, “Say, do you remember?
Bah-de-ya, Dancin’ in September…

…and then the words of comfort, a remembrance of true serenity…

Never was a cloudy day…

God, I love this song.

Although written during the session work for their 1979 album “I Am”, September was not featured on the album, but released as a single a year prior. It did, however appear on their “Best Of…” album the same year.

September is an ageless classic, transcending not only time, but reality. It traverses the musical globe, bringing a smile to people of all cultures, all beliefs, all ages and all states of being. If you ask me, it’s a song that reminds us that life for each of us was once innocently beautiful, but said beauty is not lost forever. It can easily be reclaimed if we dismiss and rebuke negative energy, mistrust and dissension, releasing our minds and hearts to the sunset of the day and the promise of the subsequent day’s sunrise (that same message is reincarnated in a one-phrase summary in EWF’s 1980 track “Share Your Love”: “Hostage of hate and chains of fear. Send Dr. Love, they will disappear…“)

Yeah, I know my music, because it’s EWF we’re talking about…

September effortlessly lifts and transports you on its joyful journey to melodic perfection as Maurice’s brother Verdine guides the tempo on bass, complimenting the energetic rhythm of 2nd brother Fred on drums. Those White brothers… DAYUM

God, I love this song.

This is a song that is appreciated by lovers of any and every music genre. I’d even go so far as to say that no one, and I mean, NO one, has ever said, “I’m so sick of that song!” In fact, I have yet to find someone that doesn’t still love it to this day. It is THE feel good song for the ages.

Ironically, during its inception the song lyrics were battled over for the greater part of a month between co-writers Maurice White, Al McKay and Allee Willis (who was called in to lend her talents to the groove already in the works). At one point, Willis, at wit’s end, asked and argued “What the f*** does ‘ba-dee-ya’ mean?” begging him to change the lyrics. Maurice, being his typical self, replied “Who the f*** cares?!?”

…and you know what? To this day, nobody asks and as he said, almost in prophesy, no one cares

I’ve had it on repeat since I began writing this post and just finished “air drumming” to Fred White’s military cadence into his exclamation point of a cymbal crash at the 3:20 mark of the song.

God, I love this song.

September is the first song I play on the 1st day of its month, every year without fail. September is the song I play all day on the 21st day of its month, every year without fail.
September is the most popular message I receive from all of my social media friends, telling me they were waiting for my annual post.
September is the song that reminds people of me on any given day, which they tell me after they’ve heard it while doing whatever the hell it was they were doing. I’m honored.
September is often my wake-up alarm.
September is my phone’s ringtone.
September is my pre-interview hype and relaxation song.
September is my “stop eating and sing” song in most every restaurant.
September is my “stop shopping and dance” song in every grocery store.
September is my “drive off the cliff without a care” jubilation tune on the highway.
September is my overseas outreach and bonding choon. Yaaay!
September is my “pick me up when I’m truly down” tune.

It’s even in my living will and understood by family and friends: If a decision must be made to pull the plug, it can only be done during the song and ONLY when it begins to fade. Never you mind if I’m brain-dead; because my ears are listening and my heart is hearing, and it will receive it one final time as I transition to eternity where, as the song reminds in my favorite line…

Golden dreams were shiny days…

September is melody. It is counter-melody. It is brasswind. It is woodwind. It is fusion. It is auxiliary percussion. It is lead, rhythm and bass guitar. It is keyboard. It is lyrics. It is beautiful singing. It is harmony. It is fuel. It is dance. It is Latin. It is Soul. It is R&B. It is Funk. It is Jazz. It is Earth. It is Wind. It is FIRE…

It is undoubtedly the happiest tune ever created; one of the most globally-recognized songs ever performed, by arguably the greatest band that ever existed, led by the genius that is and was Maurice White. I love and miss you, Maurice.

Luis Satterfield, Ralph Johnson, Don Myrick, Andrew Woolfolk, Al McKay, Ramlee Michael Davis, Philip Bailey, Maurice White, Verdine White, Johnny Graham, Larry Dunn and Fred White (couldn’t find a list, but didn’t need it!)

And just how important IS September to music culture? Hmmm, let’s see. In 2018 it was added to the National Recording Registry. Hell, the city of Los Angeles has already officially declared September as “Earth, Wind & Fire Day”. But that really doesn’t matter now, does it? The world has dubbed this day as such for decades now.

Artists cover it. Songs sample it. Soundtracks include it. Weddings celebrate to it. Marching Bands perform drills and dance routines to it. People in nursing homes fracture hips to it! It’s that kinda song.

And as far as I can see, today and forevermore the world will always “…remember, the true love we share todayyyyyy“.

I could go on and on about this masterpiece, but I think I’ll bring it to a close, now that the brilliance has faded again for the umteenth time. Still, it’s only fitting that I end this tribute to the greatest song ever by linking you to the reason you’re here.
Click here and enjoy on THIS, the 21st night of “September”!

Do you remember the 21st night of September?
love was changing the mind of pretenders
while chasing the clouds away

Our hearts were ringing
in the key that our souls were singing.
as we danced in the night,
remember – how the stars stole the night away, yeah yeah yeah.

Hey hey hey,
ba de ya – say do you remember
ba de ya – dancing in September
ba de ya – never was a cloudy day
Ba duda, ba duda, ba duda, badu
ba duda, badu, ba duda, badu
ba duda, badu, ba duda

My thoughts are with you
holding hands with your heart to see you
only blue talk and love,
remember – how we knew love was here to stay

Now December found the love that we shared in September.
only blue talk and love,
remember – the true love we share today

Hey hey hey
ba de ya – say do you remember
ba de ya – dancing in September
ba de ya – never was a cloudy day… and we say
ba de ya – say do you remember
ba de ya – dancing in September
ba de ya – golden dreams were shiny days

Now our bell was ringing, aha
our souls were singing.
Do you remember every cloudy day – yau!

And we say
ba de ya – say do you remember
ba de ya – dancing in September
ba de ya – never was a cloudy day… and we say
ba de ya – say do you remember
ba de ya – dancing in September
ba de ya – golden dreams were shiny days
Ba de ya de ya de ya
ba de ya de ya de ya
ba de ya de ya de ya – de ya… x2

God, I love this song.

Thank you, Maurice.

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  1. I always laugh when I hear that people think of me when they hear the greatest song over. I’m flattered and I’m encouraged. Thank you and thanks for reading. Love you, my brother!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Other than my 5-part “Africa To America” series, this took the most thought to right. Particularly because I wanted to do it justice.

    But it was also my most enjoyable. So glad you enjoyed it, Madeline. Thanks for reading!


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