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September in the Rain (1937)

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Origin and Chart Information

Although Shearing’s version of the song only made it to number 25 on the Billboard chart, his album introducing “the Shearing sound” was an international million-seller and linked the song to his name forever.

- Sandra Burlingame

Rank 274
Music Harry Warren
Lyrics Al Dubin

James Melton, who went on to become the lead tenor at the New York Metropolitan Opera, introduced “September in the Rain” in the 1937 film Melody for Two. The slim plot of the film features Melton and co-star Patricia Ellis as rival band leaders, who eventually kiss and make up. Composer Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin, who wrote the songs for the film, had actually written “September in the Rain” for an earlier and even more obscure film starring Melton, 1935’s Stars Over Broadway. It was apparently cut from the earlier film, although some sources still credit its appearance in the movie.

 

More on Al Dubin at JazzBiographies.com
 
 

More on Harry Warren at JazzBiographies.com
 

“September in the Rain” frequently appeared on the radio show Your Hit Parade between 1935 and 1940, and it charted several times:

  • Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians (1937, 16 weeks, four weeks at #1)
  • James Melton with Bobby Dolan’s Orchestra (1937, two weeks, rising to #16)
  • Rhythm Wreckers (1937, vocal by Pauline Byrne with Muggsy Spanier on cornet, #19)
  • Sam Donahue and His Orchestra (1948, vocal by Bob DuRant, Tak Takvorian & Ralph Osborne, 1 week at #26)
  • George Shearing Quintet (1949, one week at #25)
 

Chart information used by permission from
Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954
 

Pianist George Shearing titled his 1949 debut recording for MGM September in the Rain. Although his version of the song only made it to number 25 on the Billboard chart, his album introducing “the Shearing sound” was an international million-seller and linked the song to his name forever.

The song appeared as the title cut of a 1937 cartoon in which product label characters came to life and sang popular songs. “September in the Rain” was sung by a caricature of Al Jolson. Author Peter J. Levinson also titled his biography of Nelson Riddle September in the Rain.

In The Poets of Tin Pan Alley, Philip Furia says, “Even a song that could easily have become a sentimental paean to ‘yesterdays,’ ‘September in the Rain’ has a dynamic melody that Dubin matches with vivid imagery and rhythmic phrasing.... Given Warren’s swinging music, however, Dubin followed suit with ‘the leaves of brown came tumbling down--remember? in September--in the rain?’ The image of driving rain makes both leaves and memory more vivid, a vividness intensified by the pounding phrases that prod memory, such as the slangy intensity of ‘the sun went out just like a dying ember,’ not ‘in’ but ‘that September in the rain.’ By the end of the song he has earned his hyperbolic claim, offhandedly phrased, which makes autumnal memory more vivid than vernal present:

Though spring is here,
to me it’s still September.”

Frankie Laine had a hit with the tune, and Dinah Washington took it to #21 on the charts in 1961. The song has been recorded by pianist John Lewis with Lester Young, altoist Charlie Parker, violinist Stephane Grappelli, vocalists Chris Connor and Sarah Vaughan, pianist Dorothy Donegan, and bassist Milt Hinton. Recent recordings are by vocalists Diane Schuur, Janis Mann, Wesla Whitfield, and Kelley Johnson; trumpeters Roy Hargrove and Terell Stafford; guitarist John Pizzarelli; and saxophonist David Murray.

- Sandra Burlingame

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Reading and Research
Additional information for "September in the Rain" may be found in:

Thomas S. Hischak
The American Musical Film Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 536 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: summary and performers.)

Thomas S. Hischak
The Tin Pan Alley Song Encyclopedia
Greenwood Press
Hardcover: 552 pages


(1 paragraph including the following types of information: history and performers.)

Robert Gottlieb, Robert Kimball
Reading Lyrics
Pantheon
Hardcover: 736 pages


(Includes the following types of information: song lyrics.)
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Musician's Comments
Reading & Research

Jazz History Notes
By the Same Writers...

Jazz History Notes

Chicago-born cornetist Muggsy Spanier honed his skills as a youth in the Windy City in the 1920s. The simple, direct method of playing by cornetists Joe “King” Oliver and Louis Armstrong inspired Spanier and became his lifetime trademark. Muggsy’s 1944 treatment of “September in the Rain” turned the tune from an insipid ballad into a rollicking Chicago jazz vehicle.

Tenor saxophonist Don Byas was part of the buzzing scene on 52nd Street when bebop was overtaking swing as the jazz medium. His sound was rooted in the heavy-toned, Coleman Hawkins-Ben Webster approach, but his phrasing was much more fleet-footed, akin to what Charlie Parker was doing on alto. He glides effortlessly on a mostly double-time solo on his 1946 Savoy Records recording of “September in the Rain.”

Chris Tyle - Jazz Musician and Historian


Muggsy Spanier
Masters of Classic Jazz: The Trumpet
Soundies Records 4131

iTunes
Don Byas
Savoy Jam Party: The Savoy Sessions
Savoy Jazz 268

iTunes
Written by the Same Composer(s)...
This section shows the jazz standards written by the same writing team.

Al Dubin and Harry Warren

Year Rank Title
1934 191 I Only Have Eyes for You
1937 274 September in the Rain
1935 581 Lulu's Back in Town
1932 770 You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me
1936 839 Summer Night
1934 844 I'll String Along with You
1935 992 Lullaby of Broadway

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