‘September’: Taylor Swift’s Reimagining Of A Soul Classic

Swift’s cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s eternal groove ‘September’ ended up amounting to more than the sum of its parts.

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Taylor Swift September
Taylor Swift - Photo: Christie Goodwin/TAS/Getty Images for TAS

Released in 2018, Taylor Swift’s cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s eternal groove “September” ended up amounting to more than the sum of its parts. But that tension wasn’t obvious at first.

While seemingly an irregular choice for the light soprano Swift, not to mention the apparent genre stretch, she bends “September” in a different direction, tonally. Stripped of its prevailing rhythm – a controversial choice, to say the very least, and one that became divisive among fans of the original – Swift models a take that discovers her own insights, and at her own pace.

Swift reframes “September” as midtempo strummer, instead of a joyous stomp, Swift builds a wistful, spartan take lined with soft banjo accompaniment, reflective of the early days of her Evermore recording period.

The singer-songwriter recorded both her version of the perennial wedding classic and an acoustic rendition of her song “Delicate” (off her sixth studio album, Reputation in 2017) at The Tracking Room in Nashville, Tennesee.

Swift’s take on “September” is less of a celebration than the original, and more of a meditation on the early days of a well-built relationship. Indeed, Swift changes the opening lyric to “Do you remember, the 28th night of September,” an allusion to the beginning of her relationship with her boyfriend, the actor Joe Alwyn.

Within this edited idea, Swift finds a sweet spot that suits her gifts. She played the cover, most memorably, during a Spotify session recording, and its unexpected existence became the top trending topic on Twitter.

Taylor chose “September” for sentimental reasons. She’s always loved the classic tune by Earth, Wind & Fire, written by Maurice White, Al McKay, and Allee Willis.

Years later, it represents a milestone in Swift’s sonic evolution toward vintage pop structures, a departure from the singer-songwriter formulas of her first decade of recording. This was a period where Swift took more swings, considered more musical ideas and genres, and experimented with her sound.

The song now represents Swift feeling out the contours of her status in pop and never settling in her comfort zone.

Shop the best of Taylor Swift’s discography on vinyl and more.

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