Well, it’s September and it’s raining, so I’ve had this song running through my head all week, which actually hasn’t been annoying because I really do love songs about rain. Weather, especially wet weather, is practically a genre of its own: “I’m Singing in the Rain,” “Till the Clouds Roll By,” “Stormy Weather,” “Isn’t it a Lovely Day (To Be Caught in the Rain), “Fella With an Umbrella.”
“September in the Rain” is a reminiscence of someone standing with their loved one in the rain on a September day, near the end of the day, and how their loved one was whispering to them about their love, accompanied by the sound of the rain. The singer is singing in spring time, but in their memory it’s still “September in the rain.”
The song was composed by Harry Warren, who is one of the most ubiquitous song writers that no one knows. One of his biggest problems is that he almost exclusively composed his songs for movies instead of for Broadway musicals. Broadway composers were often talked about, but movie composers tended to be lost amidst the glamour and the stars. Only Irving Berlin managed to be a huge selling point as a composer for movies, but that was only because he was already known for his hit tunes and stage musicals.
Probably Warren’s best remembered movies he wrote for are The Harvey Girls with Judy Garland and 42nd Street, which has been revived several times, including in 2001.
The lyrics were written by Al Dubin, who often collaborated with Harry Warren. Together they wrote the songs for 42nd Street, Footlight Parade, Gold Diggers of 1933 and some of their most enduring songs are “You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”
Harry Warren was actually nominated eleven times in his career for the Academy Award for Best Original Song and he won three times, one of which was the song he did with Al Dubin, “Lullaby of Broadway.”
The song “September in the Rain” was also written for a movie, Melody for Two in 1937, which seems all but forgotten. From what I can tell, it is about two feuding bandleaders, with tons of songs packed into one hour of movie time. It has not been released on DVD or even, as far as I can discover, on VHS. It’s an example of what is actually a very common occurrence during that era of how a song has a vibrant life quite apart from its original context. Instead of Irving Berlin’s “The song has ended, but the melody lingers on,” we have “the movie’s over, but the song will live on.”
It’s been recorded by many different artists: Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore and even The Beatles in 1962. I haven’t, however, been brave enough to listen to their version yet. This is my favorite version, by Doris Day, and recorded in 1952. I hope you have a wonderful September!