Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1978 No. 1 hit, “September” is still heavily played today, especially during this time of year. But perhaps not every detail about it is common knowledge.
Since its release, September 21 has become an unofficial celebration of the legendary R&B/Soul group, however why the date was chosen as a lyric for the song is actually more underwhelming than one would think, according to one of the hit’s writers.
During a 2014 NPR interview prior to her 2019 death, Grammy-winning songwriter Allee Willis, who collaborated with band co-founder Maurice White and guitarist Al McKay, noted that there’s no real significance to the “21st night of September” other than it fit best into the song.
"We went through all the dates," she recalled. "'Do you remember the first, the second, the third, the fourth ... ' and the one that just felt the best was the 21st."
If that is the actual intention of the date, that means it has nothing to do with embracing the last day of summer, with September 22 being the first official day of autumn.
"I constantly have people coming up to me and they get so excited to know what the significance was,” Willis added. “And there is no significance beyond it just sang better than any of the other dates. So ... sorry!"
Additionally, Willis said White, who passed away in 2016, is responsible for the nonsensical "Ba-dee-ya" refrain.
“The, kind of, go-to phrase that Maurice used in every song he wrote was 'ba-dee-ya,' " she told NPR. "So right from the beginning he was singing, 'Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember / Ba-dee-ya, dancing in September.' "
Read the full interview here.