The Arbitrary Brilliance of September by Earth, Wind & Fire

It’s that special time of year again! The seasons are changing. Midterms are coming up. Election day is right around the corner (click here for DJ Butter’s guide to voting in NC). Yes, it truly feels like the 21st night of September. Do you remember?

September by Earth, Wind & Fire is one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s one that was burned into my consciousness from a young age. From the last cookout of the summer to dancing at my cousin’s wedding, September was the soundtrack. For me, it’s one of those songs that boosts my mood as soon as it comes on.

So what is the significance of the 21st night of September? According to Allee Willis, co-writer of the song, the date is arbitrary. Her and lead songwriter Maurice White went through every date – do you remember the first, the second, and so on. To quote Willis, “the one that just felt the best was the 21st.”

So there you have it: the most important holiday of the year was conceived simply because it sounded right. No symbolic significance, no deeper meaning – nothing. But I think there is a lesson to be learned in light of this revelation. In our digital age, we are inundated with messages and media that are supposed to “mean” something. But perhaps these artifacts have no intrinsic meaning at all, and our perception that one exists is a reflection of our human need to make sense of the world. I, for one, spend so much time dissecting things that sometimes I forget to enjoy them for what they are instead of what they mean.

During the recording sessions for September, Willis asked White what “ba-dee-ya” meant. According to her, “he essentially said, ‘Who the f— cares?’” Willis continued by saying “I learned my greatest lesson ever in songwriting from him, which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.“

I think this is not only great songwriting advice, but great life advice as well. Don’t let the lyrics of meaning get in the way of the groove of life. Happy September 21st, everyone.

– DJ Mango