Should you had been Neil Diamond in 1979, every single day was a “September Morn” – a day stuffed with timeless love and grand, romantic gestures. “September Morn” marks an period the place Diamond was the king of pop romance. Sure, he was nonetheless recording upbeat tracks and sometimes releasing them as singles; however the dramatic ballads had develop into his actual calling card. The tune wasn’t an enormous hit on the time of its launch, solely reaching #17 when he frequently hit the Prime Ten, nevertheless it’s since develop into one in every of his most enduring tracks. Some issues are clearly constructed to final.
Take heed to Neil Diamond’s “September Morn” now.
Neil Diamond within the Seventies
“September Morn” additionally put the capper on Diamond’s most stressed, and arguably most attention-grabbing, decade. Certainly, his 70s started with the discharge of Faucet Root Manuscript, an album that took the unheard-of step of fusing his model of pop with conventional African music, an excellent 15 years earlier than Paul Simon bought the same concept. On the time, Diamond was very a lot a part of the singer-songwriter motion, although he nonetheless had a little bit of the rock ‘n roll insurgent in him. (Test the eye-grabbing cowl of 1972’s reside album Scorching August Night time, or play its scorching model of “Cherry, Cherry” should you don’t consider me.)
The subsequent spherical of adjustments started when he switched labels from MCA to Columbia: He’d now be aiming for a extra grown-up viewers, phasing the rock parts out of his sound, and sometimes making a artistic leap – like his first album for the label, a symphonic soundtrack primarily based on the pop-philosophy phenomenon Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The primary Columbia hit, “Longfellow Serenade,” served as a bridge between his considerate acoustic type and the lusher ballads to return. There was, nonetheless, a significant sidetrip earlier than he dedicated to balladry: In 1976, Diamond shocked all people by hooking up with one in every of his extra unlikely followers, Robbie Robertson of The Band, who produced the autobiographical idea album Lovely Noise. Diamond went on to look with The Band on The Final Waltz, and didn’t change his type a bit. This earned him loads of derision from the hipsters, however Diamond had the final snicker by way of the Robertson-produced hit single “Don’t Assume….Really feel,” one in every of his sprightlier and extra pleasant tunes.
It was one other producer, nonetheless, who helped Diamond actually discover his course within the mid-’70s. This was Bob Gaudio, who knew a couple of issues about making hit data – having written and produced dozens of them for his former group, the 4 Seasons. Gaudio got here aboard for 1977’s I’m Glad You’re Right here With Me Tonight, the place the balladeer Neil got here ahead in earnest. The primary single, “Desiree,” was a throwback to his earlier upbeat type, however one other tune on the album would show extra vital: “You Don’t Carry Me Flowers” was a ballad so emotive that Barbra Streisand instantly coated it, and quite a few radio stations created their very own mash-ups by splicing the 2 variations collectively. These proved such a sensation that the 2 then recorded a correct duet model, and it hit huge, turning into Diamond’s first Quantity One since “Tune Sung Blue” in 1972.
“September Morn” was the third in a streak of ballad hits, following “Flowers” and “Without end in Blue Denims.” Most of those data had been made by the identical core crew, with Gaudio producing and Diamond’s common street band enjoying backup. “September Morn” additionally launched one other essential collaborator, the French singer/actor Gilbert Becaud. Like Diamond, Becaud was recognized for giving energetic performances. Becaud was recognized to his followers as “Monsieur 100,000 Volts.” He was additionally 13 years Diamond’s senior and hailed from a distinct period of pop; he’d written for Marlene Dietrich and composed the 1961 pop commonplace, “What Now My Love.” His collaboration with Diamond was short-lived however productive, starting with “September Morn” and yielding 5 songs for Diamond’s model of The Jazz Singer.
For “September Morn,” Diamond put a brand new lyric to Becaud’s tune, taking off from the music’s autumnal really feel. The distinction between the 2 songs is telling: Becaud’s tune, “C’est en septembre,” shouldn’t be a few relationship however a common reflection on the adjustments that the month brings. The translated lyrics learn partially, “The olive timber decrease their arms, the grapes get pink noses, and the sand has develop into chilly within the white solar. Severe bathers and seasonal staff return to their actual jobs, and the manger collectible figurines will likely be sculpted earlier than Christmas.” It’s poetic for positive, however not fairly the stuff that US chart smashes are manufactured from.
Examine that to Diamond’s lyric, which addresses the permanence of affection in phrases which can be haunting, common, and only a bit tragic. The singer’s ex-love seems earlier than him – whether or not within the flesh or in a dream is rarely made clear – and prompts a reverie about what that they had collectively and what’s left: “Two lovers enjoying scenes from some romantic play, September morning nonetheless could make me really feel that method.” There’s additionally a delicate reference to a earlier Diamond hit when he tells her, “Take a look at what you’ve executed – why, you’ve develop into a grown-up lady.” After all, he as soon as informed one other lady that she’d be a girl quickly.
Everybody who purchased the “September Morn” single bought a shock: The flipside was a rework of the Diamond-penned Monkees basic “I’m a Believer,” full with metal drums, a light-weight samba rhythm, and some new lyrics. That wasn’t the one left-field monitor on the September Morn album, which additionally had covers of Martha & the Vandellas’ “Dancing within the Avenue” and Lloyd Worth’s “Stagger Lee” – each among the many few full-fledged disco tracks Diamond ever reduce. His model of “The Solar Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” (the Gaudio tune initially executed by a solo Frankie Valli) was extra trustworthy, save for its distinguished use of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” guitar lick.
The tune’s legacy
“September Morn” claimed a everlasting place in his followers’ hearts, and in his personal coronary heart as nicely. When requested to carry out on quick discover in 1985 at The White Home for a dinner honoring Prince Charles and Princess Diana, “September Morn” was one in every of his two songs. Diamond additionally included the tune when he got here out of retirement to carry out at a profit present in his honor on the MGM Grand Backyard Area in Las Vegas in March 2020. It was one in every of solely seven songs that he carried out that night time.
Diamond, in fact, had many extra hits, going sturdy with the ballad streak till 1982’s E.T.-inspired “Heartlight.” Gilbert Becaud remained a beloved performer in France till his dying in 2001. And Bob Gaudio made historical past by bringing the 4 Seasons to Broadway with Jersey Boys. After the large success of that venture, he returned in 2021 with the one attainable follow-up: The Neil Diamond musical, A Lovely Noise.
Take heed to Neil Diamond’s “September Morn” now.