It happens every year on Sept. 21. All over social media, you’ll see people asking the exact same question: "Do you remember the 21st night of September?" Clearly, they’re all in on it — why else would everyone be asking about one particular day in the ninth month of the year?
You’re probably already aware of this, but just in case: “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” is the first line in the song “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. It came out in 1978 but still gets some airtime these days — especially on, you know, the actual 21st night of September. But what actually happened on the 21st night of September? Why did Earth, Wind & Fire want people to remember it? Here’s what we know.
What happened on the 21st night of September?
If we’re just going by the lyrics of the song, then we know exactly what happened on the 21st night of September. Kind of. Love was changin’ the minds of pretenders while chasing the clouds away. Also, hearts were ringin,’ souls were singin,' and people were dancing. And stars stole the night away (we’re not really sure what that one means).
But surely, there must have been a specific reason why the band sings about that one particular night, right? Something auspicious must have happened that evening (whatever year it was) besides singing and dancing for the band to write a whole song around it! Well, no. Not really.
In a 2014 interview with NPR, songwriter Allee Willis (who co-wrote “September” with Earth, Wind & Fire) revealed the real reason the song is about Sept. 21 and not any other date. She and Earth, Wind & Fire leader Maurice White worked together on the song over the course of a month.
“We went through all the dates: 'Do you remember the first, the second, the third, the fourth ... ' and the one that just felt the best was the twenty-first," Allee said. "I constantly have people coming up to me and they get so excited to know what the significance was. And there is no significance beyond it just sang better than any of the other dates. So ... sorry!”
In other words, there isn’t really any deeper meaning regarding “the 21st night of September.” It’s just an especially pleasant-sounding date that happened to fit the meter of the song.
Of course, you could always instill your own meaning in the lyrics. Some years, Sept. 21 marks the autumnal equinox and thus the first day of fall (although in 2020, the equinox occurs on Sept. 22). Sept. 21 is also the International Day of Peace, National Pecan Cookie Day in the U.S., and actor Bill Murray’s birthday — there’s plenty to celebrate! Or you could develop your own unique Sept. 21 tradition so that you do always remember the 21st night of September.
At the very least, it’s the perfect date to play the song “September,” which is easily one of the happiest-sounding songs ever that’s sure to put you in a good mood.