“I listen to it every morning just to get me ready for the day.”
There are few more iconic intros in music history than those opening few bars before we turn and ask the person next to us if they remember that special night in September. Few songs have such a unanimous impact on people as this and it is probably because Allee Willis, who wrote the song along with Maurice White and Al McKay, has herself described September as “joyful music”.
Incredibly, this was the first song that Willis wrote for Earth, Wind & Fire after she had spent a few years as a struggling songwriter living in LA before getting asked to co-write the new album by the band. McKay, White, and Willis reportedly wrote the song in the timespan of a month as they attempted to create music that was inspired by clear skies and ideas of dancing under the stars. Knowing this, it is easy to understand why the song creates such positive vibes as soon as you hear it.
Another element of this song that is so iconic is the instantly catchy chorus, but again it is amazing to think that during initial songwriting process, Willis was against it. In interviews, Willis has said that she was originally confused by the nonsense lyrics in the chorus which lead to her one day asking “What the fuck does ba-dee-ya mean?”, to which White turned to her and said, “Who the fuck cares?”
Musical theorists have attempted to explain what makes this song so easy to dance to. Many have come to the conclusion that because the four chords through the chorus continually suggest a sense of forward momentum there is no real point when the song slows down or hesitates. They also believe that the nostalgic nature of the lyrics cause the listener to associate the song with whatever good memory happens to come into their head while they are listening to it. I would be inclined to support the latter theory, and there is no doubt that when you think of the song September all you can think of are the good times that you have had to it.
September is one of those timeless classics that will continue to live on after many other songs have exceeded their sell by date. It is one of those songs that you show people when they are questioning whether there is any actual magic in this world, a piece of art like this, that has such a universally positive affect on everyone who hears it, is all the proof you will ever need to prove that magical things truly do exist.
And I said, “Ba-Dee-Ya”…