Allee Willis’ “The 365 Days Of September” – Day 6

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The Bakersfield High School Chorale is much more in tune and way more in the swing than most high school groups I’ve seen who attempt “September”.  Whoever wrote the school chorale arrangement they all seem to sing felt the urge to throw in an abnormal amount of distinctively Caucasian “hey, hey, hey’s” as well as some very-suburban-no-soul-within-ear-range harmonies. Thankfully, the Bakersfield High School Chorale limit the “heys” to the intro and actually sound good despite the liberties taken with the harmonies and chords. I also love how excited the audience gets over the “ba doo doo’s” at the end of each chorus. I do have one question about the lyric though. Having written it, I know that the third verse begins “Now December brought the love that we shared in September/ ONLY BLUE TALK AND LOVE,  remember…”  yet these kids sing ” was it Jew taught me love, remember” or maybe they’re saying ” was it you taught me love, remember”? Either way it’s wrong. So I wish that the person who was hired to write the arrangement all these high schools sing would think of themselves more as a transcriber than a co-author, especially if they get the gig on another one of my songs. In the meantime, enjoy the best version of the corrupted arrangement I’ve seen so far – The Bakersfield High School Chorale.

For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!

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Categories: 365 Days Of September, Dance, Kitsch, Nature, September, Songwriting

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9 Comments

  • Heidi Ehrenreich says:

    Hi Allee,
    I just came back from Brooklyn where I was at the International Dance Therapy conference. The band, a soul band, played September for their last song. Imagine about 400 dancers all dancing and singing ba de ya for an extended version. I was in heaven. I hope that a You Tube version comes soon.
    Xheidi

  • As the wife of a playwright, I am sympathetic to the artistic affront of your having to listen to alterations of your creation. As a drama teacher, I wonder if the chorus teacher had to alter the lyrics because of some wierd parental objections. I don’t now the circumstances of this video, but that might be the explanation… Anyway, I am enjoying the love everyone has for your song and am looking forward to the 359 or so videos to come.

  • Hi I have been thinking about what I just wrote. I am sensitive because I once altered some lyrics to GREASE for a class project–not a performance–because of parental objections and I felt conflicted about it. I guess I’m projecting my feelings onto this chorus teacher and hoping you creative artists will cut some slack to those of us who interpret your material in various situations.

  • Allee says:

    Although technically you’re not supposed to alter anyone’s lyrics without permission, the case you describe for your Grease class project is fine as you weren’t doing it for profit or putting it out there publicly. What I’m talking about here is someone who was paid professionally to transcribe the song and took it upon themselves to alter chords and lyrics. So in that case it’s definitely not okay because they should have had the original sheet music in front of them and not just written down lyrics because they think that’s what they heard on the record. It happens quite a few times in the song and you couldn’t find a more innocuous lyric than September so it wasn’t like some of it needed to be childproofed. So this was just a case of someone being too lazy and, I suspect, doing it from memory. Also, of all the songwriters in the world, I don’t know of anyone who cuts more slack to performers doing their work than me. I talk much more about the joy I get from people strangling my songs than I do from seeing them done by the original artist. I hear you Sheryl. My beef here is that someone getting paid to do an arrangement should be faithful to certain aspects of the song they’re working on and one of those is the lyric.

  • Allee, I understand. Yes, they should. Thanks for the clarification.

    By the way, I think you will be delightful at halftime–just by being there. Wish I could see it. Will you post a portion for us? I hope you enjoy doing it. I would be so winded!

  • Allee says:

    Heidi – If you see that footage on YouTube please please please let me know. I’d kill to see 400 people dancing and singing to it!! Sheryl – I’m bringing someone with me to shoot the entire experience so for 100% sure you’ll see the results.

  • nanci says:

    Hi Allee! I LOVE your blog. Loving the “September” videos too.

    I was wondering if you’ve thought of working with a publisher to come up with a good choral arrangement of September or any other songs? What a wonderful gift it would be! (I don’t mean do it for free, I just mean it would be cool)

    Thanks for your blog!

  • Allee says:

    Trust me, I’d love to do it but I don’t read or notate music. I could, however, tell in one second if a harmony was off or phrasings were changed or lyrics were wrong if someone sent the arrangement to the writer so someone could sing and play it for them before it was published. But this is not the way this business works. I’ve always thanked God that I’m so into kitsch or these things would be way more traumatic than they are funny.

    Thanks so much for LOVING my blog! Have you checked out The Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch yet. That’s the blog times 100! http://www.alleewillis.com/awmok/kitschenette/ is a good place to start.

  • nanci says:

    Oh, yes, I have definitely checked out the AWMOK, and in fact you have inspired me, that in the future I shall decorate my house with kitsch and with all the funky things I love instead of sticking with traditional stuff. Traditional is DUMB and I love funky and kitschy.

    Back to the music, I guess there’s a very good reason I don’t write music. I am a musician, but if I wrote something and then someone didn’t rearrange it right, I would go INSANE! All for the best.

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