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“September” Co-Writer Calls Taylor Swift’s Earth, Wind, & Fire Cover “Lethargic as a Drunk Turtle”

Allee Willis, one of the songwriters behind Earth, Wind, & Fire’s classic song “September,” has finally shared her true thoughts on Taylor Swift’s gentle banjo cover of the 1971 song. Last month, Willis called Swift “the absolute cherry on top of a very soulful and happy sundae,” but now the co-writer has given more of her opinion on the cover.

“I didn’t really think she did a horrible job. Yes, I felt it was as lethargic as a drunk turtle dozing under a sunflower after ingesting a bottle of Valium,” she said Friday night at a performance at Detroit’s City Theatre. “…And I thought it had a ll the build of a one-story motel, but, I mean, the girl didn’t kill anybody. She didn’t run over your foot. She just cut a very calm and somewhat boring take of one of the peppiest, happiest, most popular songs in history.”

Willis said that she learned about Swift’s cover just “a few hours before it came out” and at her publicist’s request, issued a positive statement in the days following the song’s release. “I was thrilled Taylor Swift cut ‘September,'” Willis said of her original statement. “I’m imagining she’s going to give it a kind of jagged, ‘Shake It Off’ kind of feel and it’s going to be great. So I got to sleep happy and excited, but by the time I wake up—on Friday the 13th I might add—the Internet was already a 28-alarm fire.”

Willis also took issue with Swift’s alteration of the song’s opening line, which she changed from the “21st night of September” to the 28th. “Everyone has a right to do with a song what they please, so go on with your own bad self, Taylor Swift,” she continued. “I’m honored you’d choose to do my song and that it meant enough to you that you wanted to personalize it to the goddamn 28th night of September, that you wanted to cover it with banjo…and that you changed the sacred ba-de-ya to the more Caucasian ah-ah-ah and make it sound more like a field of daffodils than a Soul Train line.”