Sometimes there’s a hint of what lies ahead in November.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables reach the end of a bountiful summer. Leaves begin turning from a dark green to the autumnal shades of russet and gold. The sumac is one of the first to tell us, “Something new is coming,” with its leaves turning bright red. Boaters start to think of the work ahead to hide their craft from the gales of winter.
It is a sweet time. A thoughtful time with longer nights and shorter days.
But September has given us something else to remember it by — a song.
“September Song” made its first appearance in 1938 in a Broadway musical called “Knickerbocker Holiday,” and was sung by Walter Huston who is the patriarch of the Huston family of directors and actors: son John and grandchildren Angelica and Danny. He didn’t have a trained voice, but captured the essence of the song much like Jimmy Durante did years later.
The music was by Kurt Weill, also known for “Mack the Knife,” and the lyrics were by Maxwell Anderson.
Huston’s recording was revived in 1950 and made the top 40 on the Hit Parade. It has been recorded by dozens of singers and orchestras such as Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson. Woody Allen featured it in his film, “Radio Days,” and considers it the best pop song ever.
The melody is haunting by itself, but the words capture the heart of it.
Here is the refrain: “Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September, when the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, one hasn’t got time for the waiting game. Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few, September, November, and these few precious days I’ll spend with you, these precious days I’ll spend with you.”
It’s a love song, but it’s much more. It’s telling us to make the best of the time we have left.
Let’s listen: "The days grow short when you reach September.” It’s a subtle reference to the autumn of our life.
Again: "One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.” Make the most of your time.
Then, "Oh the days dwindle down to a precious few.” What a beautiful use of the words “dwindle down to a precious few.”
Lastly, a promise: "And these few precious days I’ll spend with you.” It’s another reference to the time we should spend with the ones we love.
So, this month is poignant in so many respects. Let us all savor sweet September.
— By Richard Hoffstedt, Tribune community columnist