MIAGD: Make it a great day
Around 1984 I first heard Kurt Weill (composer) and Maxwell Anderson’s (lyricist) beautiful song, “September Song,” while spending time with my directing mentor, Joshua Logan.
Mr. Logan directed the original 1938 Broadway production, KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY, and the leading man, Walter Houston, requested at least one solo for the older character he was to play. Mr. Logan said Houston’s voice was not particularly strong so the vocal range was limited.
“It’s why I sing the song so well,” he would joke.
“September Song” was later used in the 1950 movie, SEPTEMBER AFFAIR, and reached No. 1 on the pop music chart. It was recorded by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, and Willie Nelson.
“September Song” is based on a metaphor comparing a year to a person’s life span from birth to death. The song is an older person’s plea to a younger person that some activities of life are transient and time-wasting. As an older individual, the speaker hasn’t “got time for the waiting game.”
I sat at the piano per his request and began my sight reading session by stepping into the introduction. Mr. Logan started to sing the first word.
“Is that my – can you play my first note?” he requested. He grabbed the pitch and hummed through a portion of the song, stopped and asked, “Do you know how to lower the key?”
I lowered the key and he restarted the song.
Mr. Logan readily admitted he did not possess a magnificent voice but “I don’t back away!” And, that was true. Nothing was more fun than to hear him singing something with gusto. However, when he stood next to me that afternoon, singing the plaintive lyrics and haunting melody, his voice lacked the typical boisterousness to which I was so accustomed. It was firm but wistfully clung to each word.
“But the days dwindle down
To a precious few,
My twenty-three-year-old-self did not grasp the meaning of the Kurt Weill’s lyrics. My fifty-three-year-old-self, thirty years later, lives these lyrics. When I first heard them I was a student with his beloved mentor; now, I am the mentor sharing music, theatre, and life with my students.
Here’s to Mr. Logan, and life…. make it a great day so you can make it a great life….