Hey there, this is Teacher Ola Podcast episode 63: Learn English With Earth, Wind and Fire ‘September’. 

My name’s Ola and I am an online English teacher, I teach through one to one classes and what I want you to know is that I believe you can eliminate your language blockade. I’ve overcome a massive blockade myself and I know how to do it. This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. You’ll boost your vocabulary, brush up your grammar, improve your pronunciation.  Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning!

Hello and welcome to today’s joyful episode. Joyful like this song. A classic from the late 70’. It makes you wanna dance and sing. This song hit the Billboard chart and became number one in 1978. It’s still played at wedding receptions and birthday parties. But first things first. Let me tell you how it’s going to look like today. 

First I’ll tell you some song facts about the song ‘September’. You’ll find out why this month was so special for the band and what does ‘ba-dee-ya’ mean. Then we’re going to repeat out loud all lyrics line by line. While repeating the lyrics we’re going to stop here and there to elaborate a bit more on some vocabulary items. In this part you’ll learn how to read dates, one idiom with the word ‘mind’, a phrasal verb ‘chase away’. You’ll also find out how one can sing in the key? Is it at night or in the night? Which one is correct? What’s the past form of ‘steal’ and how to pronounce words: dancing and thoughts. That’s not all. I’ll also tell you how to say ‘dirty talk’ idiomatically and I’ll give you my tip on how to remember the last four games of the month. September, October, November and December. Uh. We’re ready to begin. Let’s start with the song facts.

In “September,” Maurice White reminisces over a nostalgic period that took place in September. What have the artists said about the song?
Songwriter Allee Willis remembered first hearing the intro to the song when she walked in the studio. She said:
As I opened the door, they had just written the intro to ‘September.’ And I just thought, ‘Dear God, let this be what they want me to write!’ Cause it was obviously the happiest-sounding song in the world.
‘Ba-dee-ya’ is the kind of, go-to phrase that Maurice used in every song he wrote. So right from the beginning he was singing, ‘Ba-dee-ya, say, do you remember / Ba-dee-ya, dancing in September.’ And I said, ‘We are going to change ‘ba-dee-ya’ to real words, right?‘ And finally, when it was so obvious that he was not going to do it, I just said, ‘What the f- – – does ‘ba-dee-ya’ mean?‘ And he essentially said, ‘Who the f- – – cares?’ I learned my greatest lesson ever in songwriting from him, which was never let the lyric get in the way of the groove. 

But the question is what happened on the 21 night of September? What you’ll find on the Internet is that it means nothing. According to songwriter Allee Willis, he initially just thought that the 21st was a random number by Maurice White. In 2018, however, White’s widow revealed that the 21st of September was meant to be the due date of her and White’s son.

Ok. Let’s move on to the meat and potatoes of this episode, the lyrics:

Listen to the first verse of the song and repeat them:

Do you remember the

21st night of September?

Love was changing the minds of pretenders

While chasing the clouds away

Do you remember the 21st night of September? – The date. Let’s see how the dates are said. Well, since a day in a month is an ordinal number, we put ‘the’ before the number. The first, the second, the third, the fourth, the twenty-first, the twenty-second, the twenty-third. Before the name of the month, we put the preposition ‘of’. ‘Of September’, ‘of November’, ‘of May’. What’s interesting is that we don’t necessarily write those words. In writing, you only see 21 September. But you have to remember on your own to put the before the number and of before the month. The third of April.  The twenty-first of September. Instead of: third April, or twenty-first September. The twenty-first of September. 

Love was changing the minds of pretenders – to change your mind. It’s an idiom. A very common idiom. Now tell me how idioms are not important. They are! Change your mind is really popular. You can’t change your mind, can you? What you really change when you say it is your opinion, decision or plan. I changed my decision. I changed my mind. 

While chasing the clouds away – to chase means to run or drive. after somebody or something to catch them.  But if you’re chasing something or someone away it doesn’t mean you want to catch them anymore. It means you want to force somebody or something to run away. Away can be replaced with for instance: out. To chase out. 

Our hearts were ringing

In the key that our souls were singing

As we danced in the night

Remember how the stars stole the night away

In the key that our souls were singing – What does it mean? How can you sing in the key? The key is not only a piece of metal with a special shape used for locking a door. In music, it’s a set of related notes, based on a particular note. Pieces of music are usually written mainly using a particular key. When you sing or play off-key you’re not in tune. Or, you’re out of tune. 

As we danced in the night – wait a second. Is it at night or in the night? This is a huge topic. There’s no one clear answer. Let me explain bfierly how I see it. At night is more common expression than in the night. You use it to reffer to your habits for examp, or other general thoughts. 

Like ‘I sleep at night’. At night means at all nights. Whereas ‘in the night’ has a kind of more specific mood to it, you know? I do my homework in the night before I go to school. 

Remember how the stars stole the night away – Stole is a past form of irregular verb ‘steal’. Steal – stole – stolen.  

Let’s move on to the chorus:

Ba de ya – say do you remember

Ba de ya – dancing in September

Ba de ya – never was a cloudy day

Dancing in September – ‘dancing’. Here I’d like you to pay attention to pronunciation. You don’t pronounce it ‘dancing’ nor ‘dancin’ but: ‘dancing’ The sound at the end of the word is very tricky. Please practice. Dancing, watching. The back of your tongue should be raised. To me this sound is the one that baby whales make, you know. /ŋ/ /ŋ/. 

Listen and repeat the next few lines of the song:

My thoughts are with you

Holding hands with your heart to see you

Only blue talk and love

Remember how we knew love was here to stay

My thoughts are with you – Pronunciation again. /thoughts/, /thoughts/. My thoughts. It’s a noun. A countable noun. One thought, two thoughts. Thoughts can be passing, disturbing, quick, sudden, comforting. We’ll practice a bit later, so please stay till with me. 

Only blue talk and love –  Blue talk is language or a topic which is not fit for polite conversation. Profane. What qualifies as blue talk varies. It depends on the culture. Here I think it means dirty talk. Someone might consider this kind of love language offensive. 

Remember how we knew love was here to stay – if something is here to stay it’s likely to last. It’ll continue to exist for a long time.

Now December found the love we shared in September

Only blue talk and love

Remember the true love we share today

Now December found the love we shared in September – I know that the names of the months are sometimes a pain in the neck. Especially the last four.  I’ll tell you how I  remembered the order. 

What I did is I looked at the first letters: September, October, November and December. They make up a word in my own dictionary, so the word which doesn’t exist. SOND: September, October, November and December. That’s what helped me and many of my students so I share it with you. 

Remember the true love we share today – The verb ‘share’ is quite common. Especially in this day and age when we share posts, photos and memes on our social media platforms. Don’t forget we can also share food, thoughts, opinions, a view, values, enthusiasm, responsibility.

This is the end of the lyrics. Now I think it’s time to practice all the phrases, idioms and collocations we’ve learned today. Listen carefully, try to memorize, retain the sentence in your brain and say out loud. First I want you to answer this question. Out loud: 

When’s your birthday?

Christmas Day is on the 25 of December.

They tried to get me to change my mind. 

I’m not going out tonight. I’ve changed my mind.

Chase the dog out of the kitchen!

The wind is chasing the clouds away.

Can we play it in a lower key?

In the night before his examination, he couldn’t sleep.

He dreams at night.

He stole money from his parents.

We must credit time spent bringing up children

A horrible thought struck her: could he be having an affair?

My first thought was that you weren’t telling the truth.

It looks as if high unemployment is here to stay.

Podcasting is here to stay.

Will you share your fries with me?

The three of us shared a taxi.

Well done! Here you have it. All the lyrics repeated and explained. No it’s time to do your homework. Download the worksheet. Play the song, listen to it and complete the missing words in the worksheet. Good luck! 

If you know someone who likes learning English with music let them know about this podcast. 

Thank you for being here. Next Wednesday I’ll talk to you about present simple tense uses. Till then, take care, stay fearless. See you really soon, happy learning. Bye bye!