Songwriter: Corb Lund
Corb Lund is a successful singer-songwriter from Canada that most Americans have probably never heard of. I have frequently heard his name thrown around and remember seeing a few of his music videos on CMT back in the days of my youth, but I have never given one of his albums a thorough listen. "September" is such a beautifully haunting song, however, that I am more than persuaded to purchase his latest album, Cabin Fever, and embark on that musical journey.
"September" plays upon the classic theme of country-boy-pining-for-city-girl (in this case, a country girl who who decides to become a city girl), but it contains a melancholy and a desolation that plumbs deep below surface cliches and allows the listener to really feel the anguish and pain buried in the narrator's heart. He, the struggling cattle farmer staying behind, she, the woman he loves moving to New York City to perhaps chase a long held dream. In a way, he can't really blame her for leaving. In the quiet country "there ain't much to do," "there ain't much glamor," and "the pace is kinda slow," after all. But he is certain that no one in New York City could need her as much as he does. "Stay with me through September," he begs.
He's also certain that she is going to regret trading the wide open country for the cramped and crowded city; well, maybe not certain, but pretty damn sure, or at least he's telling himself she'll miss this way of life just to ease a little bit of the pain. There is more than a little sarcasm in the line:
I can picture how you're livin'
In a tiny fourth floor flat
Well there's times that a thousand acres and the Rocky Mountains
Can't compete with that
Imbedded in Lund's delivery of the line is sadness mixed with an almost have-it-your-way disbelief.
My favorite part of the song is the part without words, where Lund sings "oooos" with an emotional heft that betrays an immense and piercing loneliness, as if singing the very siren song of the relationship in just those few notes. It sounds like a mix between Chris Martin's (of Coldplay) falsetto and a modern twist on a high and lonesome yodel, echoing in the valleys of the mountains he sings about, conjuring up the image of a man standing by himself in a vast and wide open space. Totally free but utterly trapped. It makes the loneliness of the narrator more than palpable. How fitting that loneliness in real life often leaves us struggling to express the feeling in words.
Regarding the music video for "September," this, my friends, is how you make one. It intersperses grand images of mountains with close-ups of Lund's face and the sadness and bitterness and regret that is written all over it (his "acting" in the video makes me think he has probably lived this song). Toward the end of the clip, when the only person we've seen thus far is Lund, we see a woman walking around, presumably a ghost of the love that is long gone away. Her memory will forever inhabit the mind of the one she left as well as the hills and valleys that she once called home with him. The video is directed by Trevor Smith with an eye for both the beauty and bleakness of nature and with a perfect understanding of the emotional journey of this heartbroken cattle farmer.
It's not often that a piece of music and its accompanying video compliment one another so seamlessly, but with "September" the case is made not only for the power of authentically sad country music, but for the relevance of music videos in the modern musical era, when music channels rarely play them anymore. It's indeed one of the most beautiful songs of the year accompanied by the most beautiful music video of the year, a video that helps one delve deeper into the emotional heart of the song.
I can't wait to dive into Cabin Fever.