Asian mariachi version titled “HALF OF CHEWING GUM BAND INSTRUMENTAL” by Nino, Chino and Paulo. They actually play it great despite the fact that a song consists of more than an intro. If it were me I’d squeeze in one more stringed instrument and move on to the verse and chorus. I always love when musicians play the melody in their head and assume the audience can hear it.

For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!


The Vertigo inducing ‘can I offer you  some strobe?’ lighting  and overuse of a smoke machine provide the perfect environment for “Margarita and the boys”,  some of whom are clearly girls, to dance to “September” on this, Day 4 of the 365 day YouTube marathon. In searching for people “borrowing” my song “royalty free”,  I can’t believe how many line dances there are to it. I always thought line dances were for country songs but now I know that line dances are for happy songs.

For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!



I used to love back scratchers as a kid, the long skinny brittle plastic kind that the hand snapped off of if you jerked them along your back too fast. I always loved the little lifelike looking clawed hands, fingers curled for maximum scratching action. I remember the first time I saw one of the battery-operated ones. I had already been made aware of similar looking battery-operated things though those didn’t have aluminum arms and teeny little hands attached to them. And none of them were near as elegant as this tiger skinned vibrating gadget.


One of my favorite things was that the little hands and fingers had such incredible detail to them. From a Kitsch POV, I like this one even better because in order to make it look like a tiger paw, the fingers have taken on the look of little kernels of corn and the palm looks like it has a big blister in the middle of it.


Once assembled, the tiger paw back scratcher is almost 18 inches long.


The base of it is really heavy, making it uncomfortable to scratch yourself for too long.


I haven’t interacted with my vibrating cordless electric Tiger Paw in quite a few years. I really only stumbled across it because I was combing through my decades-old-and-counting Kitsch kollection looking for jungle themed items to go along with my just released “Jungle Animal” song, video and game with Pomplamoose that’s racked up over 80,000 views on YouTube in less than two days.


I’ve spent the last few months working on this thing, hunched over my desk, breaking my back. So the Tiger Paw is going to stay close at hand now and keep me company as I can definitely use a good scratch every now and then.


How happy am I that neither rain, sleet nor snow could keep the Kennett High School Marching Band from playing my song, “September” back in January of 2007?! I’ve been especially aggressive tracking down marching bands playing “September” as in a couple of weeks I have the great honor of conducting the University of Wisconsin marching band at the Homecoming halftime game when they play three of my hits, “September”, “In The Stone”, an Earth, Wind & Fire song that has grown to mythical proportions in marching band repertoires, and ” I’ll Be There for You (the theme from Friends)”, which I have no idea as to why it’s on the program when “Boogie Wonderland” or even “Neutron Dance” would seem more appropriate to drum the spirits up for the big game.

Despite the fact that I (co) wrote everything, I can’t read music and thought that maybe if I watched a few marching bands play the songs it might better prepare me as these arrangements always differ slightly from the records.  I’m  not sure how much I can really learn from the Kennett High band other than to always wear galoshes in inclement weather and to remember to practice so I can hit the notes. I will say that the rain makes an excellent percussive intro.

For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. Until tomorrow, ba-de-ya!


Yesterday marked the first day of my year-long series featuring YouTube videos with people singing, playing, marching to, dancing to, massacring, auditioning with, acting idiotic in the presence of and otherwise performing my very first hit song,  “September“. For a more through exploration of my “365 Days Of September” mission as well as details of how the song was written, go here. In the meantime,  I hope you enjoy The Davis High Jazz Choir’s performance of the song, especially the choreography, as much as I do.  Babeya!




People always ask me what my favorite song I’ve written is. I hate to favor any of the babies but pound for pound I’d have to shout “September”!  I think it’s an eternally uplifting song. It makes people HAPPY, not just with a capital H but ALL CAPS!! I write a lot of happy songs but even perennial foot tappers like “Neutron Dance” and “Boogie Wonderland” don’t inspire the immediate mood shift that “September” does. I’ve never been in a room where people’s toes didn’t start tapping or heads start bobbing as soon as it comes on. I’ve never been to a Bar Mitzvah or wedding where it wasn’t played, including Beyonce and Jay-Z’s, where I wasn’t but learned from US Weekly that that’s what they danced their first dance to. And they didn’t even get married in September.


Without question, the original Earth Wind & Fire version is and will always be my favorite.


With EWF founder and lead singer, Maurice White, and EWF guitarist, Al McKay, I started writing “September” the first day we met, in the summer of 1978. It was actually written as the third song in a trilogy that  Maurice and Al had already created, EWF’s “Sing a Song” and The Emotions’ “Best of My Love”,  two of my favorite Pop Soul records of all time.

sept sheet

Although most of the music to “September” was completed that first day, it actually took a couple months to finalize the lyric, during which time I was also working with Maurice on all but two songs that became their (thankfully) legendary crossover album, I Am.


I used to be hung up that the “September” lyric was a little sing-songy, not the most intelligent I’d written. But seeing the effect it has on people I’m happy I took Maurice’s advice:  Never let a lyric get in the way of the groove. If a lyric isn’t grammatically correct or even if it’s nonsensical –  like the key words in the “September” chorus, “Ba-de-ya” –  don’t replace it with something that is.  If you marry the lyric to the music just right, the meaning will come across in the feel.  I have no doubt that the love expressed in the chorus of “September” comes across even better with this nonsensical phrase than it would have had we merely filled those syllables with “I love you”.


The first time I ever went on YouTube just months after it launched in 2005, there were already tons of versions of the song there. Over the years I’ve watched “September” videos multiple like rabbits, some good but mostly a little on the lame side – Bad bar bands, jazz bands, marching bands, people in their living rooms, bathrooms, underwear, at auditions, dance classes, birthday parties, on lawns, mountaintops, in line dances, in lines at stores, playing solo bass, drum, keyboard and guitar parts, making animations and short films with it, in all varieties of languages, styles and quality.

Most songwriters are tortured when they hear cheesy versions of their work. As the Grand Master of Kitsch however, I LOVE it. I love that something I’ve created inspires someone to perform it despite an apparent lack of talent or rhythm. If it makes them happy it makes me happy.


And, trust me, this is a song that’s still making me happy. In one of my YouTube searches I stumbled onto Pomplamoose, a band that completely deconstructed the song and did it so distinctively I suggested we work together. The resulting “Jungle Animal” song, video and game went live TODAY.


But back to “September”… 1978 wasn’t the first time I placed my bet on a song that glorified September. Four years earlier, my first and only album, Childstar, came out on Epic Records. It contained the first 10 songs I ever wrote. The tune the label thought had the most single potential was called “What Kind of Shoes Does September Wear?”.


Although my career didn’t get off to the running start I had hoped it would then, I’d have to say that, in retrospect, September did, indeed, have some very nice shoes!

A few nights ago I went back on YouTube to see if any new versions of “September” had been done. To my astonishment, it was like the song had In vitro and gave birth to enough versions that if I played one a day for a year I would never run out. So I made it a goal to chronicle the madness. From this day forth, the 21st of September, the date in the opening line of the song, until the 21st of September, 2011, I shall feature one (brilliant, alarming, innovative, ridiculous) version of the song a day.

So here now, I offer you the most definitive version of all, the Godhead, “SEPTEMBER” by EARTH, WIND & FIRE on this, the 21st day of September, 2010, the first of 365 days of September. It pretty much goes downhill from here…



Finally, after months of work and a whole lot else my song, video and game, “Jungle Animal” – Pomplamoose and Allee Willis launched TODAY!!  To cut to the chase:




I’m never as interested in just collaborating on music as I am in a full multi-layered collaboration where I get to use my visual and social interactive skills as well. Long gone are the days that I wish to club 3/4 of my brain dead so I can just remain in something as a music writer. “Jungle Animal” provided me with the opportunity to connect everything I do into one cohesive multimedia project, just the way I like it.

You can take a peek at the collaboration as I worked on the Jungle Animal music with Pomplamoose here. Keep scrolling down on that page and it chronicles the days we spent together in LA and in Northern California where they live. I did the animation and game technology on my own down here in LA.


If you like what you see and hear, please email the links above to your friends, family, gardeners, mechanics and anyone else hovering in your spheres. There’s a lot going on in the jungle today!



Because the opening line of my very first hit song, “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, is “Do you remember the 21st night of September?” I constantly get asked the significance of that date, the very day it is TODAY.  People are always looking for some great meaning, especially those whose birthdays are today and to whom the song has held a special place. Sad to say, the only real significance is that that it felt so perfect to sing. Those three syllables – twen-ty-first –  hugged those notes tighter than an angora sweater and once that happens any good songwriter knows they need to just leave it alone because it works. What I’m most proud of achieving with my co-writers, Maurice White and Al McKay, is the transformative effect the song seems to have on people. I could be at a funeral and if “September” even came on as a ringtone most people’s lips would curl into a smile and their toes would automatically start to tap.  Beyoncé and Jay-Z even chose it to dance their first song to at their wedding. And that makes me very happy.


Ever since the song was released at the tail end of 1978, September 21st has been a magic date for me. In the pre-email/text days when I used to check my phone, the messages would be filled with people singing me the song. Some of the singers were famous and the versions were killer. Sometimes it was my dentist or a friend from camp and the versions were terrible, just the way, as a lover of kitsch, I love them.

Through the years, the popularity of “September” seems to grow, so much so that the entire month of September has started to feel like a holiday to me, especially this year when it started with Earth, Wind & Fire playing “September” with a 70 piece orchestra and fireworks at The Hollywood Bowl. So, I’ve decided to honor this date that has given me so many gifts with a few gifts of my own:

• First, the release of my “Jungle Animal” video/song with Pomplamoose, a YouTube sensation band I contacted to work together after I saw their version of “September”, with over 2,000,000 views on YouTube. Now would be a good time to watch “Jungle Animal”:


•  Second, the matching “Jungle Animal” music composition game I designed and that’s ready for your jungle playing pleasure right now at

•  Third, in celebration of the one-year-to-the-day opening of my social network, The Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch at, The Jungle Animal Petting Zoo is now open, featuring some of the most cheesy and brilliant jungle animal artifacts on the planet.

• And fourth, the launch of “The 365 Days of September”, where I’ll post one new version of “September” a day for a year from the thousands of insane versions of it on YouTube.

Screen shot 2010-09-21 at 10.26.19 AM

And I JUST found out that September will continue into October for me as The University Of Wisconsin Marching Band will play my songs at the Homecoming football game on October 9th and I’ve been asked to conduct! As some of you know, UW is my alma mater. And I LOVE marching bands.  And even more pertinent  on the kitsch tip, despite the fact that I’ve sold over 50,000,000 records and counting, I still don’t know how to read a stitch of music. So I anticipate that conducting the band in front of 80,000 people is going to be one of the seminal kitsch moments of my life!

So to all of you on this September 21st I say thank you and wish you a big “Ba-de-ya!”. May you all have nothing but”golden dreams and shiny days”.



For the last few months I’ve been holed away in the creative jungle known as my desk trying to complete a long-distance collaboration with Pomplamoose, the YouTube sensation band I collaborated with after I saw them do a highly unusual version of my song, “September”.  With “Jungle Animal”, a song and video we worked on together, as well as an online game that I whittled away at myself, theoretically just hours away from release, I thought that this off-kilter Atomic 1950’s zebra, knees buckling but still standing, was the perfect visual representation of what one feels like when they emerge from as intense of a workload as this.

Before this project, my connection to jungle animals was confined to those in my kitsch collection. Much more of a cat, dog or goldfish person, I certainly appreciated jungle animals but didn’t really come to love them as much until I had to stare at them over the last few months in order to do the artwork for the video and game.


I even opened a Jungle Animal Petting Zoo at my social network, The Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch at, so I would have more animals to study. I can see all the anatomically correct models I want with a Google search but I was more interested in how they’ve been interpreted via pop culture artifacts. For example, I learned a lot from this “dreamy tiger” submitted by aKitschionado Nessa.


And staring at this slightly blurry rope lion submitted by omahamama……


……provided for my interpretation of the king of the jungle:


And God knows, I’ve been staring at this zebra for years.


Long one of my favorite ceramics I’ve ever owned, this spectacularly Atomically tilted 1950’s zebra originally had a mate, a perfectly-tilted-the-other-way zebra. They really were the best set of jungle animals for my taste I’ve ever seen.  Both of them were quite heavy, filled with sand so they were sure not to fall off a shelf unless an earthquake of astronomical proportions hit. Unfortunately, that earthquake arrived in the person of someone I was interviewing to be my assistant who dropped the zebra carrying it to my car where I was about to leave to art direct some rock video. Needless to say, that was the end of the assistant, who I was much happier to lose than the zebra.

When it came to “Jungle Animal”, I stayed up for weeks painting.


I actually did every inch of painting in the computer. I just thought this was a great excuse to show what paints looks like when the artist loves her work. It was also a great excuse to show this box:


Perhaps if I spent less time growing up watching American Bandstand and more watching Jon Gnagy, the first television art instructor in the 1950’s and 60’s, I might have understood that despite the fact I think this looks dead-on like a real hippopotamus others might not.


The person who designed my favorite zebra was definitely not thinking about interpreting an animal of perfect zebratude when he sculpted and painted this:


Pound for pound, I think my zebra looks more like the real thing, though not as much as Jon Gnagy might have hoped for.


I can’t tell you how many years I wasted not being an artist because I was so hung up that I couldn’t draw anything exactly as it was. It took me decades to realize that true art is all about personal style. It’s about having the balls to show your stripes.


“Jungle Animal” was a very challenging collaboration for reasons I’ll one day be ready to talk about. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from painting and animating all these jungle animals, not the least of which was inspired by this full tilt zebra who, despite all odds, continues to stand up straight, it’s that with integrity and perseverance one can not only survive in the jungle but thrive.


(“Jungle Animal” is supposed to be up on YouTube at 1 AM tomorrow morning, the 21st of September. Ba-de-ya!)


One of the most festive nights of the Jewish year is the ‘breaking of the fast’ meal after Yom Kipper, a veritable smorgasbord of chopped liver, corned beef, brisket, potato latkes, noodle kugel and whatever else there’s room for on the table.  Trust me, after not eating for 24 hours the Chosen People are hungry! Although this “kosher” sign hangs happily at Willis Wonderland, mine is not the house that one wants to eat at on a night such as this.  As such, I’m very lucky that I have a Break-The-Fast itinerary that I stick to like schmaltz (chicken fat) every year and head over to four hamish (friendly, folksy) friends whose houses are are stuffed with machers (big shots) and even some meshugehs (crazy, nuts people) to schmoose with (talk socially, network) while we nosh (eat) like chazzers (pigs).

For our first stop, Prudence Fenton and I hit Marla and Jeff Garlin’s house. You know Jeff from Curb Your Enthusiasm.


Sadly, I have no photo with Marla, probably because I was too busy fressing (pigging out) every time she was around. It is so NOT KOSHER to only take a photo with one of your two hosts…


Sometimes the baleboosteh (mistress of the house) serves you bagels and lox and sometimes there’s some nice deli platters. But if Az a yor ahf mir (you should be so lucky) to be invited over to the Garlins to replenish your pupik (stomach) after it’s 24 hour lockout, the shtetl (village or small town) sitting on their dining room table includes corn beef, roast beef, turkey,  three kinds of noodle kugel, mac and cheese – thank you for that extra goyish (not especially Jewish) bonus – bagels, lox, cream cheese, cream cheese with chives, three kinds of sliced cheeses, tomatoes, onions, dill pickles, black olives, whitefish salad, tuna salad, egg salad, fruit salad, salad salad, coleslaw and that’s just how far I got down the table before my plate was full.


More noshes (snacks) were still coming out when we had to leave after a couple of hours because we had another simcha (joyous occassion) to schlep (get) to.

The next amazing nachas (extreme joy or pleasure) food fest was at Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil’s, two of the most balebatim (people of high standing) songwriters on the planet. Being with them makes a songwriter such as myself kvell (explode with joy). As songwriters go, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil are EXCESSIVELY KOSHER.


Not only are they real mensches (people of integrity and honor), they’ve written some of the biggest gelt (money) earning songs in the eretz (land). For forshpeiz (appetizers): “You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” – the #1 most played record of all time, – “On Broadway,” “We Got To Get Out of This Place”,”Uptown” and hundreds of more titles everyone would agree are HIGHLY KOSHER.


In 1992, Barry and Cynthia were over at my place for a distinctively non-kosher meal when they came to a simcheh (joyous occassion) where I asked guests to come dressed matching their potluck food. They brought and came oysgeputst  (dressed up) like Blackeye Peas.


Although I was already too stuffed from the tsegalt zich in moyl (melts in the mouth, delicious, yummy-yummy) meal over at the Garlins, I did manage to kibitz (fool around with) with another songwriting maiven (expert, connoisseur) at Barry and Cynthia’s, Mike Stoller.


Mike Stoller is truly a KOSHER TO THE MAX songwriter, a choshever mentsh (elite and respected man of worth), one half of the rock ‘n roll dynasty team of  Lieber and Stoller.  If you’re going to write songs and you’re not Barry and Cynthia and you don’t want to chop your hair off on one side and be me I would suggest being Mike Stoller. A few of his early megillehs (big deals) include chachkes (little things) like “Hound Dog,” “Kansas City,”“Stand by Me,” “Charlie Brown,” and “On Broadway”, written with Barry and Cynthia. Mazel Tov (good luck has occured)!

All in all, I had a very frallech (fun) Breaking of the Fast and rolled home feeling like a big happy kishka (stuffed intestine).  We didn’t dance the Hora (traditional joyous Jewish dance) but we carried on like we were boogieing in the Borscht Belt (Hotels in the Catskills with Jewish entertainers and clientele) on the ultimate KOSHER evening of all kosher evenings and one from which I’m still plotzing (exploding from excitement, as in “You got us tickets for Barbra’s comeback concert?? I’m plotzing!)