‘Early autumn’s a 2nd spring—when every newly fallen leaf—a flower is.’ Camus
‘It’s a month of fairer, rarer days, when golden grained heads chatter and keen about death.’ H Smith
Haunted rests on the tip of my tongue when I think of September & scars bore long after it’s no more.
‘September afternoon skies resembled Caribbean waters channeled through sunlight; sidewalks glittered with panes of glassy leaves…’ Amy Lowell
Near old, dear ol September,
Hit it Willy, Frank, Sarah Vaughn, croon a tune how ‘days dwindle down to a precious few…days I’ll spend with you, cause when leaves start to flame, one hasn’t got time for waiting games.’ And yet, anticipation (and snazzy tunes) may be the best part of a month that’s short, sweet, witty, giddy, and incomplete. Isn’t a musical better than an electric slide line dance hustle, for some of us have permanently kissed or kicked summer goodbye—as into early autumn years we slide, and brace to behold remaining years of frost and cold? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9ZGKALMMuc (Sinatra, The Way You Look Tonite, Ctrl+click)
When I ‘tried to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh so mellow, and nothing wept, except the willow…’ (The Fantasticks, 1960), time receded to 1752 when Brits pitched a fit and rioted after it was decreed calendars were flipping from (Julian) Wednesday, September 2nd to (Gregorian) Thursday September 14th. Eventually, folks put down sticks and protest signs. Later that century, Brits picked up guns, cannons, and bayonets when stateside colonists revolted. On 9/3/39 the UK and France declared war on Nazi Germany. Nine to Five the musical premiered in LA in September 2008, and it made a decent living. LA, the town of the queen of angels, was founded 9/4/1781.
The song Papa was a Rolling Stone hits close to the bone (3rd of September, day my daddy died), though the singer’s papa died earlier than mine. My dad (see Sage of Severed Mountain blog) in his later years, never rolled far from home. Despite the bittersweet memory, no one needs to Wake Me Up When September Ends, included in the musical American Idiot (2010). They were right, innocence never lasts, years do go by fast. The 11 Israeli’s killed by terrorists in Munich’s Olympic Village 9/6/72 knew it; as did the 8000+ dead post Galveston TX Hurricane 9/8/1900. They didn’t start naming hurricanes (after women) until 1950. Protesters got them to share the credit, alternating with men’s names in 1979.
Did Jack and Jackie listen to Nina Simone’s One September Day at their Newport RI wedding 9/12/53? Did old flame socialite Judith (Immoor) Exner attend (d 9/24/99)? My 9th month memories include an awful, perfunctory wedding that should never have been. Other decade’s reminiscences border on the salacious, pregnant with ancient desire and misfires. I had a Roberta Flack Killing me Softly moment when I first heard Diamond’s September Morn. That foreign man and I met again—not exactly two lovers playing scenes from some romantic play…As if on cue, passion and something like regret ensued, enlivened by a twisty tango for two. Not, I imagine, what Diamond had in mind—for me or his sweet Caroline. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEuOkapb-_o (Diamond song).
‘By order, summer lingers through September, in Cam-e-lot’ (Learner). An author, whose name I forget wrote Birds eye the sky at the first breath of autumn weather, as illicit lovers eye each other…There must be a musical or two about that. Were lovers serenaded by James Taylor’s September Grass song…’few more geese are gone, few more leaves turning red, but the grass is soft as a featherbed. Lie down here right now?’ But wait, ‘leaves of brown also came tumblin’ down, in September, in the rain; the sun went out like a dying ember…’ Too soon we forget events in months ending in ember.
Tony Bennett’s Maybe September (I’ll love again, a rainbow will appear now and then; I’ll find my way once more…) was what I should have listened to—while cheering the demise of hot weather and its mystical runes. It used to be such a treat to fly to Greece to partake in the Greater Eleusian Mysteries quest. What’s not to like—11 orgy filled days, toasting Demeter and drinking Kykeon, all washed down with mad honey cakes?
Can you hear September’s tune in the rustling breeze, apple peel scented wind, and the nodding of equinox leaves? Cool is better than hot (once one is not). However, a sun warming overhead’s preferred to crisping and frying. If only the 9/21 equinox (Welsh Mabon), with its balanced dark and light—would win the spring forward/fall back fight. Curtains on stages in faraway places rise to acknowledge the sun king’s death September 1, 1715, France’s Louie, Louie, just don’t take me where you gotta go. (Though they investigated for a year, the FBI never deciphered the rest of the lyrics).
In remembrance of 9/11, Auden’s poem September 1, 1939 tunefully resounds. ‘I sit in a dive on 52nd St…the unmentionable odor of death offends the September night…faces along the bar cling to their average day; the lights must never go out, music must always play…all I have is a voice to undo the folded lie…no such thing as the State, and no one exists alone…our world in stupor lies, yet dotted everywhere, ironic points of light…’
What’s with the edict to not wear white post Labor Day? Those crazy Victorian elites and their obsession with innocence, purity, straight white lace, pale unhealthiness. Wealthy enough to afford seasonal attire and daily washing of starched shirts, they liked to flaunt their eminence. Magic, white and dark is in fashion year round. Wave a white flag to signal surrender or defeat any time of year, release the doves of peace, and on Samhain wear ghostly white fabric after burning all KKK dishonor sheets.
I’ve shared with a few good folks a fondness for a film that’s become an annual pre-equinox (9/21) ritual. I watch September (not to be confused with identically named Woody Allen film), a mid 90’s Scottish film (filmed in Wicklow Ireland–better light?) directed by Colin Bucksey, starring Michael York, Jacqueline Bissett, Angela Pleasence, Jennie Agutter, and Mariel Hemingway. It’s based on a Rosamunde Pilcher (b 9/22/24) novel. Pour a wee dram, ease back, and watch changes a season wrought in the land of the Scots. A femme fatale returns home to…birthdays abound. A laird, now in the B&B biz, dons a kilt, and a certain Sir seems to love gold more than family. A loopy lady named Lotte breaks out, spies on a town, and a loch yields something found. Not a musical except for highland reels—and the bagpipes. https://soundbible.com/tags-bagpipes.html
Is September the biggest breakup month? The Happenings sang see you in September…He was aware of dangers and asked her to write. Though strawberry season’s peaked, the song Strawberry Wine tells of a woman child that lost her strawberry in July and feared September goodbyes. She also asked the guy to write. Natalie Imbruglia hopes for rain to ease the pain, and wants something more tender come September. Only Earth, Wind, & Fire (what no water?) was upbeat about love in September, the 21st to be exact. Can someone tell me what ba de ya, de ya, de ya means?
Updike’s poem September teems with‘smells to feel, ripe fruit, leather footballs, burning bonfires, new books and sharpened pencils—and a seasonal hum as his mother cuts chrysanthemums.’ What was September 2021 NATO military exercises in Yavoriv Ukraine really about? Troops from 12 nations participated while Russia and Belarus held similar exercises and Russian warships launched live fire drills in the Black Sea? Will Putin be given a whoopsy pass? It worked for Nixon who resigned in August in White House formal gardens and on 9/8/74 was pardoned.
Dropping in September to the silver or streaming screen: Hocus Pocus II (29 years later), in which the Sanderson sis’s are accidently summoned by a novice witch to ye ol Salem. The old Sanderson digs are now a Magic Shop. There’s a reason why Hollyweird redos and repackages the familiar. It’s called MAYA (Most Advanced Yet Acceptable). Risk adverse producers rely on plots and characters folks already know, rolling out spin offs & prequels. It’s a version of Eliade’s eternal returns—much like war.
There’s other spooky film fare, like Dark Harvest, Harbinger, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, and Brahmastra. Blonde, starring The Grey Man’s Ana de Armas, and based on Joyce Carol Oates book, and The Woman King with Viola Davis look interesting; Heather’s the Musical does not. Will campy black comedy lovers give it a shot?
September, same time next year the musical? Inspiration for Broadway’s first musical hit began as desperation. The manager of a 3,000 seat theatre needed to fill the stage come September. He had a stranded ballet troupe, a clunky melodrama, and a stack of forgettable songs. It all clicked. At a time when most hits ran a month or two, The Black Crook (1866) became the first production in world history to run for over a year. Ziegfeld’s Follies came together by asking starving artists and great composers to work together. What a concept. We have Hammerstein II to thank for raising emotional stakes and improving tedious plots in the 50s. That led to Gypsy, Hair, Hairspray, The Producers, Cabaret, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Rent, Kinky Boots, Hamilton…
Do you feel the quickening of the spinning wheel? The chin music of baseballs whiz-singing by? Will your September, when it comes, be temperamental or like Van Morrison’s September Night snappy and instrumental? Will it be even keeled—balanced like Libra’s scales or September’s Corn/Harvest moon? Though it’s just a guess, I trust it won’t be bloody like Antietam (civil war battle 9/17/1862) or Sherman’s Atlanta March 9/2/1864—or Attica (riot 9/13/71). In September’s battles of the sexes (Billy Jean & Bobby Riggs 9/20/73), may you be evenly matched. May both sides win, and may there be love.
Batter up–for next chapters of Grave Goddess and Act of Ambition, coming soon… and conclusion of Interpretation of Death in October