The Story Behind Earth, Wind & Fire's Hit Song 'September'

September 21 is a special occasion for fans of the band Earth, Wind & Fire thanks to their hit song "September."

The 1978 classic celebrates the specific date in the song's lyrics, though it was originally released on November 18 of that year as a new song on the album "The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1."

An upbeat disco track, the song has remained a firm favorite since it was first released thanks to its catchy melody and timeless lyrics.

To mark the anniversary, fans of the band even hold "21st night in September" parties across the globe every year.

Here is how the classic disco track came about.

How Did "September" Come to Be?

"September" was co-written by Allee Willis alongside band members Maurice White and Al McKay.

McKay and White worked on the track first, with the former coming up with the iconic upbeat melody and the latter riffing the opening line "do you remember."

It was while the band was working on the intro that Willis was brought into the studio, and in an interview with American Songwriter in 2018 she admitted that she knew instantly it was a track she wanted to work on with them.

"When I walked in, the band was working on the intro and I thought 'please let this be the one they want me to work on!' It was the happiest sounding thing I had ever heard," she revealed.

"September" was the first song Willis wrote with White, and it was she who urged the band to use the word "night" instead of "day" when referring to the iconic date in the song's lyrics.

Speaking with CBS This Morning in 2019, shortly before her passing on Christmas Eve of that year, Willis said of the lyrics: "First thing I said 'day's' gotta go. It's gotta be night. It's more romantic."

The Phrase "Ba-dee-ya" Was Almost Cut

One thing Willis and White argued about during the lyric-writing process was the use of the phrase "ba-dee-ya," a melody the band leader used as a placement during every songwriting process.

It was a way for him to work on the melodies of the song without real words, and Willis was keen for this phrase to be replaced because it didn't "make sense," but White wanted to keep it in.

Speaking with Spotify in 2018 about the song's origin, Willis reflected: "Every time he did that, I said: 'Well, we're going to replace that with real words, right? 'Cause the song has to make sense'."

"Finally, it's the last day of recording. The deadline is midnight and it's 10 minutes to. And I was literally in the studio, on my knees, because I thought: 'Oh my God, this stupid phrase is going to ruin the whole thing.'

"So I finally said to this incredibly calm, soulful, spiritual man: 'What the f*** does 'Ba-dee-ya' mean?' And Maurice essentially said 'Who the f*** cares?' And I learned the biggest lesson of my songwriting career at that moment: Never let the lyric get in the way of the groove."

Earth Wind & Fire in concert
Verdine White, Ralph Johnson and Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire. Steve Grayson/WireImage