Here’s Why Earth, Wind & Fire Sang About The 21st Of September

Released 43 years ago, the iconic song “September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire still gets everybody on their feet (via American Songwriter). It’s played at weddings, has been featured in a variety of commercials, and according to NPR, it played at both the Republican and Democratic conventions of 2008. Written by Al McKay, Maurice White, and Allee Willis (pictured above), the song fuses soul, R&B, jazz, and even some Latin influences.

At its core, “September” is about having a good time and living in the moment. It’s no wonder that its musical structure, full of horns and repetitive loops, creates a song that is perfect for the dance floor. Likewise, Its origins also have a fanciful story that starts in 1978 when Allee Willis was a struggling songwriter. As fate would have it, Willis got a call from Maurice White (the band’s co-lead singer and songwriter) asking her to co-write their next album (via Ultimate Classic Rock). When Willis walked into the studio and heard the opening riff of “September,” she knew that they had a hit on their hands.

The date has nothing to do with the seasons

As the production of “September” continued, Allee Willis feared that the lyrics were too simple, as they cohesively did not tell a story (via NPR). More specifically, she wanted to exclude “ba-dee-ya” from the song as it had no true meaning. Maurice White, however, did not relent, and the lyrics stayed. Willis later said that she learned one of the greatest lessons in songwriting: never let the lyrics get in the way of the music (per American Songwriter). As for the date, according to Insider, September 21st was chosen simply because it sounded the best. In other words, it has no actual meaning, and it’s a complete coincidence that it happens to be the first day of fall (many believe the song is about the seasons changing). Willis stated that it’s ultimately up to the listener to interpret the date on their own.

In 2019, “September” was inducted into the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress. Willis died a few months later, but not before leaving her enduring mark on the music world. Per The Guardian, she also wrote the “Friends” theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” as well as “Boogie Wonderland” — another Earth, Wind, & Fire hit.

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