Wednesday, February 19, 2014
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about “September Song.” There have been two responses.
They are from Mary Koch, writing from Holden Village up Lake Chelan, and from Dee Camp, here at The Chronicle.
“The composer,” Mary wrote, “was Kurt Weil, who wrote the opera ‘Lost in the Stars,’ lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, and was included in the 1938 Broadway musical ‘Knickerbocker Holiday.”
“According to Wikipedia, the song is an older man’s plea to a younger potential lover that the courting activities of younger suitors were transient and a waste of time – as an older suitor the speaker hasn’t ‘got time for the waiting game.’
“I agree with you that it’s beautiful, and I’ve long loved it. I also appreciate seeing the photo of Smitty.” (A photo of longtime Omak music teacher Myron “Smitty” Smith accompanied the column.)
The response from Dee came from the Internet and consisted of 31 pages of the history of the song, how it came to be written, what its plot concerned and an extensive listing of the many musicians who have performed it. To my astonishment, this did not include the name of Duke Ellington, although it did that of Sarah Vaughn, as well as dozens of others leading right up to the present time.
It also indicated that the months in the text were not to be taken literally, but indicated the seasons of a person’s life.
So my supposition of a background for the song was wrong. I hope you did better.
In my recollection of the high school chorus presentation of it, I recall that Smitty was glowing over the voice of a new student who had just joined the group.
This was not your usual high school voice, still in transition to maturity. It was the voice of a man, and he sang with a nice confidence. I cannot recall his name.
So, this has given us a peek into the world of one kind of music, written for a singer with vocal limitations, which has gone into the records and is still being performed. And one man, somewhere in those 31 pages, claimed it is the most beautiful song ever written.
Elizabeth Widel is a columnist for
The Chronicle. This is the 2,875th column in a series. She may be reached at 509-826-1110.