Anticipating September, I searched today for audio clips of my two favorite September songs: “September Song” and “September in the Rain.” I was looking especially for clips featuring Walter Huston (“September Song”) and James Melton (“September in the Rain”) because their renditions are the definitive originals.
Huston introduced “September Song” in the 1938-39 Broadway musical, Knickerbocker Holiday. That Huston was an actor and not a trained (or very skilled) singer makes his delivery all the more sincere and poignant. It is especially poignant for me because I remember first hearing the song (and Huston singing it) on an autumn day almost fifty years ago. Here’s the clip.
Melton, on the other hand, was a trained singer. The affected style of some of his recordings (especially the early ones) can be off-putting, but it’s a style that was common in those days (the 1920s and 1930s) and it doesn’t (for me) detract from the beauty of Melton’s voice. Now an obscure figure, Melton had a long career on the band platform, on radio, in movies, in opera, and on TV. (I remember watching his short-lived 1951 TV series.) Melton possessed a bright, ringing tenor voice with a melancholic edge: a perfect voice for “September in the Rain,” which Melton made famous in the 1937 film, Melody for Two. Here’s the clip.