Precious Days


I’ve been aware of September Song ever since . . . well, ever since I’ve been aware of anything. It was likely Sinatra’s 1946 recording that I first heard, probably the first piece of music I ever took note of —excluding Mister Moon, first warbled to me by my mother before I could walk away or talk back. Soon after I remember Jo Stafford’s version of 1950. But when I heard Sarah Vaughan sing it, then Billy Eckstine’s rendition, its arrow pierced my heart, the song no longer just background music, but something significant to my life

.

I had no idea where it had come from. Nor had I cared. But if I had been curious I’d have discover its music had been written by Kurt Weill, its lyrics by Maxwell Anderson for the 1938 Broadway play, Knickerbocker Holiday, and performed by Walter Huston as the dictatorial governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Stuyvesant, an older man frustrated by his affair with a lady much younger. Which is a scenario that puzzles me today as it would have then.


Even though my fascination with the charms of the opposite sex was already in full bloom at ten, I never felt as if the song was about love and romance and the time, or lack thereof, that it takes one to fall under its spell. I took it more broadly. Instead of a young woman, I imagined the object of desire to be the state of happiness achieved by living one’s life in the pursuit of a dream. In my case being an artist. However, that life turned out to be far too unruly for any art I knew, always coming at me like a maniac swinging a baseball bat. So as a result I spent the spring and summer of my life ducking for cover. But then in September, as days grew short the bat finally landed smack in my face. And when I woke I had only the dream.


September, November . . . these precious days, I'll spend with you and with these faded flowers, perhaps I'll make the dream come true.

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