Track of the Day: 'September'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

We are mere hours from an event that is celebrated among some of my friends, at least, as a kind of secular holiday: the 21st night of September. That’s because of this track—Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September”—which takes this very evening as its setting.

“September” is one of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s best-known songs, and there’s lots that’s familiar here and lots that’s self-evidently great. (That layered guitar intro!) So what I’ve been focusing on today is the background trombone line during the post-chorus that first appears at 1:07. It’s a brass orchestration of the rhythm section groove, and it evokes all of the song’s feelings (joy, infatuation, nostalgia) in just a few measures. Here’s hoping your September 21st is great, even if (as here in D.C.) the clouds aren’t quite chased away.