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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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