Hello, everybody, and welcome to the first day of September!
And you know something? I'm very optimistic about this month. The August of hell is finally over!
I'll tell you something. Maybe it's the fact that the humidity of August is getting to me, or maybe it's because the kids out of school were making me spend half my salary on extra strength Advil all summer long, or maybe it's because I've had a rough month. Whatever the reason, I'm welcoming the month of September in with open arms.
September is the time of year in which schools let back in, when temperatures cool down, when leaves start changing colour, and when you can finally start putting on layers instead of having to take stuff off. And, since we're kicking off the ninth month of the year, I thought that I would make the Sunday Jukebox entry September themed.
Today's song is all about the month of September, and you know something? I'm just going to go ahead with it and post the video.
ARTIST: Earth, Wind & Fire
ALBUM: The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1
DATE RELEASED: November 18, 1978
PEAK POSITION ON THE BILLBOARD CHARTS: #8
Doesn't that song just make you want to strap on your roller skates and go zooming around the roller disco, bathing you in simulated laser beams, mirror balls, and ever-changing coloured beams of magenta, cyan, and yellow strobe lights?
Well, okay, I missed out on the roller-disco era of the late 1970s. Whatever the case, it's a September song for all of you, courtesy of the band Earth, Wind & Fire.
I'll be the first one to admit that I've never really been a big fan of disco music. I mean, sure, I have the odd single by the Bee Gees and ABBA (yes, ABBA) programmed into my iPod, but I would hardly consider myself to be the kind of guy who would suit up in a pristine white leisure suit staying alive on a multi-coloured dance floor.
But you know, there was something special about Earth, Wind & Fire. There was just something about them that made your feet tap, and your body move to the music as you ventured towards a “Boogie Wonderland” to become the ultimate “Shining Star”, long “After The Love Has Gone”.
Ahem...sorry. I got a little bit carried away there.
Anyway, would you like to learn more about the band before we talk about the song that happens to be a celebration of September?
Okay, so it's fairly impossible to name off every single member that has been a part of the band Earth, Wind & Fire over the past forty-four years. Since the band was founded in Chicago in 1969 by Maurice White, there have been a total of FIFTY-FIVE band members that have come and gone. As of 2013, there are currently fourteen people affiliated with the band. They are...
B. David Whitworth
Bobby Burns Jr.
Greg “G-Mo” Moore
Philip Bailey Jr.
Now, the accomplishments and accolades that Earth, Wind & Fire have accumulated over the years has been nothing short of astonishing.
(Alliteration. Gotta love it.)
Just have a listen to some of the statistics related to the band.
Would you believe that the band has been nominated for a total of twenty Grammy Awards? It's true. As a band, Earth, Wind & Fire won six Grammy Awards, while Philip Bailey and Maurice White each have won one award as solo artists.
The band also collected four American Music Awards out of a dozen nominations. They received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the early 1990s. And when they received an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the year 2000, they were greeted with a standing ovation. At the 2000 ceremony, original Earth, Wind & Fire members Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Al McKay, Larry Dunn, Andrew Woofolk, Fred White, and Johnny Graham attended the gala, and they wowed the crowd with a rousing performance – the first time that the original line-up of the band had played together since 1980. Now, there were talks after the ceremony of the entire band reuniting to tour and possibly release new material, but for whatever reason, the 2000 Hall of Fame performance would be the last time they would play together. Of course, Earth, Wind & Fire continued touring with a mix of old and new members (including Philip Bailey's own son), and although their last Top 10 hit single was 1981's “Let's Groove Tonight”, the band is still touring and releasing music (their latest single being 2013's “My Promise”, which was a Top 30 Adult Contemporary hit).
But we're not going to talk about the present. Let's talk about the past. Like, the twenty-first night of September that the band kept singing about despite the fact that the single was actually released in mid-November.
This single peaked at #8 on the Billboard Charts. However, the single also hit the top of the R&B charts. And, in the United Kingdom, it peaked at #3. “September” was certified a gold single, not once, but twice! Not only was it certified gold in record sales, but in digital downloads as well.
(And, just for the record, I am one of the millions who has downloaded “September” onto their iPod.)
I mean, just listen to the lyrics. They're lyrics that are filled with happiness, joy, love, and soul. And, admittedly a lot of ba dudu, ba dudu's, but those words aren't important.
Now, the song itself is a love song of epic proportions, filled with lots of images of stars shining in the sky, and how the clouds stayed away to let the sunshine in when the daylight poked through, and how you danced the day and night away with the person you love the most? It's a rich tapestry of retrospect and passion all blended into a cornucopia of beauty and light.
(And, that sounded a little bit too New Agey for me. I apologize...but not too much because I kind of like how that description flowed.)
The point is that the song is filled with lots of positive imagery, and at the risk of sounding like one of those teeny-boppers on the set of “American Bandstand”, I'll say that the record has a nice beat and you can dance to it. It was one of the most memorable songs of the 1970s and I think the song itself takes people back to a simpler time. It takes us back to the days before mobile phones turned people into walking zombies and before seven-year-old boys started playing “Call of Duty” to a simpler time when love was all we really had to go on, and when the world was generally a happier place.
I kind of think that I was born in the wrong decade at times. Oh, to be a thirty-something thirty years ago. That would have been so much fun.
So, anyway...that's our brief look back on “September”. And, did you know that “September” is featured in a number of pop culture references?
Al Gore used the song in his 2000 US Presidential campaign.
A Japanese dramatic series which aired in 2002 actually used this song as part of its opening credits!
Crystal Waters sampled this song in her 1997 single “Say...If It Feels Alright”.
The song can be heard on the video games Dance Dance Revolution Universe and Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore.
And that's not counting the cover versions of the song performed by Kirk Franklin, Australian group Past to Present, Sisqo and Vitamin C, and Asako Toki.
How's that for a September song?
Happy September, everyone! I'm hoping that it's good to me. Not like that awful, awful August.