Earth, Wind & Fire holds a space in the hearts of many as one of the best bands ever assembled, and today is a special day for all of the reasons you can imagine. Pulling from their feel-good classic “September,” fans of the Elements are gathered in celebration on Twitter for #EarthWindAndFireDay.
The legendary funk and soul band’s 1978 smash actually appeared as a track on The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1 album and was released as a single. The track shot up to No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot R&B Songs chart, and hit No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, along with making it to No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The song is still popular as its ever been, appearing in commercials, song covers, sampled by other acts, remixed, and much more. In 2018, the song was added to the National Recording Registry List of the Library of Congress.
Of course, one of the opening lyrics of the songs points to why many are discovering and rediscovering the groovy tunes of Earth, Wind & Fire. Check them out below.
Do you remember the 21st night of September?
Love was changin’ the minds of pretenders
While chasin’ the clouds away
Our hearts were ringin’ in the key that our souls were singin’
As we danced in the night, remember
How the stars stole the night away, oh, yeah
According to an NPR profile on the track, the song’s classic “ba-dee-ya” refrain from song co-writer and performer Maurice White almost didn’t make it.
Using a progression composed by Earth, Wind & Fire guitarist Al McKay, White and Willis wrote the song over the course of a month, conjuring images of clear skies and dancing under the stars. Willis says she likes songs that tell stories, and that at a certain point, she feared the lyrics to “September” were starting to sound simplistic. One nonsense phrase bugged her in particular.
“The, kind of, go-to phrase that Maurice used in every song he wrote was ‘ba-dee-ya,’ ” she says. “So right from the beginning he was singing, ‘Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember / Ba-dee-ya, dancing in September.’ And I said, ‘We are going to change ‘ba-dee-ya’ to real words, right?’”
Wrong. Willis says that at the final vocal session she got desperate and begged White to rewrite the part.
“And finally, when it was so obvious that he was not going to do it, I just said, ‘What the f*** does ‘ba-dee-ya’ mean?’ And he essentially said, ‘Who the f*** cares?’” she says. “I learned my greatest lesson ever in songwriting from him, which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove.”
Check out some Earth, Wind & Fire tunes, including “September,” by following the tweet from the band below.