Did you know that September has one of the highest birth rates of the year? The month has become a symbol of change, loss, and grief. It comes as no surprise that there are many tracks that are written with references to it.
These 25 songs are some of the most famous September-themed tracks of all time.
1. Wake Me Up When September Ends — Green Day
Any list of songs about September is likely to open with Green Day’s 2005 hit Wake Me Up When September Ends. One of the most famous tracks of the band’s career, the mournful song was inspired by the death of frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s father.
Andrew Armstrong died of esophageal cancer when his son was only 10 years old. The track’s themes of loss have been adapted to public causes for other tragedies, including the victims of the September 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
2. September When It Comes — Johnny Cash And Rosanne Cash
Though Johnny Cash was one of the best and most famous singers of all time, not everyone knows that his daughter Rosanne Cash is also an accomplished musician. Her song September When It Comes was released in 2003, the year that her father passed away. It was the final track that the two of them recorded together—they had collaborated extensively since she was a child. The song, which is about loss and grief, became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as her father passed away in September of that year.
3. September Grass — James Taylor
James Taylor’s smooth ode to a September romance was included in his 2002 album October Road. The song describes the changing of the seasons and the knowledge that a youthful relationship is about to end. Nevertheless, the narrator savors the final days of summer weather—and his time with the girl, knowing that winter will soon be approaching. The sweet ballad is perfectly suited to his vocals, with lines such as “September grass, Is the sweetest kind, It goes down easy, Like apple wine.”
Recommended: Songs about Summertime
4. September — Earth, Wind & Fire
One of the most famous songs of R&B and funk band Earth, Wind & Fire was the 1978 hit September. This groovy track is undeniably one of their most memorable hits and was even added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.
The song opens with the line “Do you remember, The 21st night of September?” and fans have proposed many theories for the meaning behind the date. However, frontman Maurice White was adamant that the lyrics had little meaning beyond what he thought sounded good.
5. Pale September — Fiona Apple
Pale September was released on Fiona Apple’s debut album in 1996. Consequently, it may not be as well remembered as some of her later, more successful music. The song describes a time of loss and grief followed by hope, comparing these experiences to the idea of changing seasons.
At first, she says she “wore the time like a dress that year,” comparing the sorrow that she felt to the dying natural world as summer came to an end. It’s an evocative image that describes an almost universal human experience.
6. A Lonely September — Plain White T’s
The Plain White T’s released A Lonely September in 2001 on their album, Stop. Its title is not referenced anywhere in the lyrics, but its meaning is clear. The singer is reminiscing about an ex who recently ended their relationship.
They think back on Christmas of the previous year and how happy they were and dreaded the approaching holiday season. It seems strange that things can change so much in a short period of time. From now on, September will be a lonely time of the year for the narrator.
7. September When I First Met You — Barry White
Barry White’s 1978 song September When I First Met You was based on reality, as he really did meet his wife Glodean in September—they married in 1974. The track is a simple tune of nostalgia, repeating the lines “September, Remember?”
The real appeal comes from his rich vocals, which make the simple lyrics as evocative as if we were right there in the memory with him. Barry and Glodean White were married until his death in 2003—though they were separated for a long period of time.
8. Come September — Natalie Imbruglia
Natalie Imbruglia’s 2001 song Come September is shrouded in metaphor, and it’s difficult to know what the lyrics are really about. They follow Cinderella as she realizes that her life is falling apart and she has to get away. She holds onto the hope that things will be alright in September.
Some fans have pointed out that she is from Australia, where September is not the end of the summer but the start of spring, perhaps signaling a new beginning for the princess in the song.
9. September Morn — Neil Diamond
Have you ever been going about your day, when something about it suddenly reminds you of a memory? Neil Diamond’s September Morn is about that very phenomenon. He remembers the days of a youthful relationship and how they sometimes went out dancing until dawn, coming back in the light of a chilly autumn sunrise.
Sometimes, a cool September morning brings those memories flooding back and he feels as though they were only yesterday. There must just be something about autumn that gets people thinking about the old days.
10. September Song — JP Cooper
English musician JP Cooper wrote September Song as a way of looking back on a first romance. It’s an innocent teenage relationship and the first love for both people. However, like most teenagers, they are forced to be apart during their summer break. The narrator looks forward to September when he will be reunited with his girlfriend, thinking of her as his “September song.”
The track may have been inspired in part by his own teenage relationship, which he described as very sweet and innocent.
11. September In The Rain — Peggy Lee
September In The Rain was first recorded in 1937 and has been subject to countless covers ever since. Notably, it was covered by Dinah Washington, Frank Sinatra, Guy Lombardo, Peggy Lee, and The Beatles. Lee recorded the song in 1945. It is an ode to nostalgia and a bygone love story.
Sometimes, just one moment defines a chapter of our lives; for the singer of this song, it’s a wet September afternoon with their loved one. We never find out if there was something special about that afternoon or if it stands out in the singer’s memory for no reason at all.
12. Maybe September — Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett’s sole acting credit was the 1966 film The Oscar, in which he sang the song Maybe September. The performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the movie, a track of hope in the wake of a broken heart. Though the singer feels as though he can’t possibly move on at the moment, he hopes that a new season will come to his life soon, in which he will be able to find love again. It’s a beautiful song that contrasts with the more common theme of heartbreak in music.
13. It Might As Well Rain Until September — Carole King
Carole King’s 1963 song It Might As Well Rain Until September was never meant to be her own song. She actually wrote it for Bobby Vee, recording a demo version to use as a reference. The demo became a massive hit, helping King’s career progress from songwriting to singing.
The track describes how, although most people love summertime and don’t want it to go, the singer can’t enjoy it without the person that she loves. Though the summer sun is bright, she feels as though it might as well be storming with the way she feels.
14. Make It Stop (September’s Children) — Rise Against
Make It Stop (September’s Children) was dedicated to the teenagers who died by suicide in September 2010 because of homophobic bullying and abuse. The victims’ names and ages are spoken aloud throughout the song.
Rise Against released the track as part of the It Gets Better project, which is dedicated to protecting LGBTQ+ teens from harassment. Frontman Tim McIlrath was partially inspired by fans who were afraid to tell him that they were gay and wanted to release a statement of support and protection for gay teens.
Recommended: Powerful LGBTQ+ & gay pride songs
15. September Sun — Type O Negative
September Sun certainly stands out from the crowd, a heavy metal song that reached 10 minutes long in its original version. The track imagines a ghost haunting the living in the brilliant September sunshine, a surprising contrast to the usual depictions of specters. However, the lyrics paint many changing images, including scenes from the deceased narrator’s life and the torment he now endures after death.
It’s certainly a strange setting that feels both familiar and unsettling at the same time. We’ll be thinking about it the next sunny September afternoon.
16. Blue September — Windows feat. Al Stewart
September is often used as a metaphor for aging. In Blue September, Al Stewart revisits the metaphor with more melancholy than usual. Like the chill creeping into the air at the end of the summer, he was surprised to find himself suddenly getting older and wondering where the other seasons of his life had gone.
Getting older is difficult and happens faster than we expect it to, so it is common to experience a range of emotions, from surprise to depression and finally to acceptance.
17. September — Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams’ tragic song September is about a loved one getting the news that they have terminal cancer. Getting the diagnosis in September, she realizes that autumn will be the last season she ever experiences. The chorus is a simple, heartbroken repetition: “September, September.”
It is clear, from the way he sings the soft song, that September has changed for the rest of his life; he will always recall that autumn afternoon when they got that phone call. This is one track that is guaranteed to get your tears flowing.
18. September Gurls — Big Star
Big Star’s 1974 song September Gurls can be interpreted in many different ways. It describes the love between a September girl who brings new life and a December boy who is deeply in love with her. It’s not clear if these phrases refer to the couple’s birthdays or something deeper about their personalities
The song’s title was inspired by The Beach Boys’ track California Girls. It would later be covered by bands such as The Bangles, Superdrag, and The Searchers. Katy Perry also gave it a nod by spelling her song California Gurls with a “u.”
19. The Late September Dogs — Melissa Etheridge
Months are often used symbolically in music and poetry. September is a typical reference to a state of change, as it heralds the beginning of autumn and the world moving toward winter. Country rock singer Melissa Etheridge used this metaphor in her 1988 song The Late September Dogs.
It’s not entirely clear what the image represents, but it is clear that it represents a shift in the singer’s personal life, marked by the ominous barking of the “late September dogs” in the night. It also brings to mind the ways that the world grows quieter in the autumn, which would draw attention to loud, sudden sounds like barking.
20. Dark Until September. — Will Hyde
Will Hyde released dark until september. in 2020, a gentle ballad about seeking one’s own identity in the wake of a bad breakup. Many of us can relate to the sensation of not knowing who we are outside of a relationship. The phrase “dark until September” is open to interpretation in this context.
Some people think it means that the singer is forced to forge onward until he manages to find himself—even if it’s not until the autumn of his life. It’s a scary feeling and one that definitely feels like being in the dark.
21. September Skyline — Single File
Single File’s 2007 song September Skyline compares a long-distance relationship to taking a long drive. It is implied that the narrator and his lover will be reunited in September; therefore, he imagines that he can drive until he reaches autumn.
The lyrics describe the timeline as something he can see on the horizon, so he knows that if he keeps going forward, he’ll eventually reach a place where the leaves are starting to turn red. It’s a sweet and heartbreaking metaphor for longing for the person that you love while they are far away.
22. September Song — Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson’s 1978 cover of September Song is the country star’s gentle, understated style at its very best. The track, which was originally from the 1938 musical Knickerbocker Holiday, compares a lifetime to a year. At the beginning of the year, the days grow longer and it feels as though you have all the time in the world.
However, once you reach the September of your lifetime, you realize how quickly the seasons change and how little time you have left. Ironically, Nelson recorded the song when he was 45 and is still alive and well more than 40 years later.
23. September — Daughtry
Sometimes, the simplest memories can inspire great songs. For frontman Chris Daughtry, it was thinking back on summer vacations with his brother in North Carolina. They knew that it was a temporary period of freedom before September came and they would have to go back to school, but this made it special.
The song is about those memories of childhood days outside and playing in the rain in September. Though most of us didn’t experience the exact same thing, we probably have similar memories from our own childhood.
24. The September Of My Years — Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra recorded The September Of My Years as the title track of his 1965 album. The song is a nostalgic view back on youth by a man who has now reached the autumn of his life.
Like the season itself, this stage of life is contemplative, and the singer ties in the idea of his “golden years” with the golden imagery of September leaves. Aging has never sounded so beautiful as it does when he sings about it in his smooth, warm baritone voice.
25. September Love — Kool & The Gang
There are a lot of tracks about a brief relationship that began in September—which is strange, as statistically most short-term relationships start between October and February. September Love is a 1983 soul hit about a romantic fling that, you guessed it, took place right at the end of the summer.
It’s not a new concept, but Kool & The Gang’s groovy hit stands out from the crowd all the same with its description of September dreams and September songs. Despite its nostalgia, it is definitely a feel-good track that looks bad fondly on that time rather than sadly.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.