September Song(s)

The month got off to a good start this morning when I discovered James Brown's version of Kurt Weill's "September Song".  I also downloaded Ella's version from the album Intimate Ella.  In fact, I downloaded that whole album - just Ella accompanied by pianist Paul Smith.  A great discovery for me as an accompanist.  I once asked a fellow pianist I admired whom he studied with, and he nodded toward his CD collection - stacks of master teachers. 

I'm giving this month a back-to-school theme (further proof of my giant dorkiness).  This process is still really good for me, but I'm no longer taken by surprise by all the discoveries I'm making.  This year is flying by, and of the infinite number of songs I could choose, I feel like I should choose the ones that will help me most with my playing, or that fall into the uber-standards category of I-can't-believe-you-don't-know-that-song songs.  Or that I just really, really love, because if I didn't really, really love music, and popular songs in particular, I wouldn't devote such a chunk of my life to the study of it. 

(Lotte Lenya - Kurt Weill's wife and muse, singing "September Song")

So today - "September Song" - falls into the third category - songs I really, really love and just want to spend a little time with. I love this time of year - knowing that the beastly hot weather can only last so much longer, the sense of possibility left over from when my life revolved around the academic year. And there's something poignant about this time of year, too, something bittersweet. Another summer over, already? Life goes by so quickly. Before we know it, it'll be the holiday season, and then a whole 'nother year will start, only to fly by more quickly than this year. We pay taxes, we get old, we die, that's it, maybe we leave behind some kids or some art, maybe not. But damn if it isn't beautiful while it's flying by.

The IV chord, or subdominant, is the chord built off the 4th note of the scale.  In a major key, it's a major chord.  But it's a simple matter to lower the middle note of that chord to make it minor.  A minor chord where we expect a major chord, often, in fact, following directly behind that major chord, resolving to the major tonic chord - a little bitterness in an otherwise perfectly normal "Amen" cadence. 
So maybe it's not surprising that "September Song" and Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" both love their minor-iv chords (they're all over the form in today's song; and on the word "when" in "...September Ends").