This is my favorite time of year. As a native New Englander, I always look forward to the end of summer's hot, humid misery and the glorious colors that coat the trees. Autumn is an introspective season, and the music that sums it up best resonates with a thoughtful, nostalgic quality that borders on sadness.
If you're looking for autumn music to add to your playlists, there's some obvious choices. "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds and "My Autumn Almanac" by the Kinks cover the British Invasion years, while any version of "Autumn in New York" or Vivaldi's FOUR SEASONS will satisfy the fan of softer sounds. Green Day's "Wake Me Up When September Ends" and Yo La Tengo's "September Sweater" fill in the alt-rock blanks.
But beyond these, there's a little subgenre of songs that are really about autumn, even though they seem to be about something else. Here's a few to consider:
- The Lightning Seeds, "Pure and Simple." Ian Broudie's song of a dying love drops references to several seasons, but it's clearly set on a cool autumn night, and the fading relationship still clinging to hope suggests the transition from summer to autumn to spring. It's also got that minor key groove that conjures autumn melancholy.
- Don Henley, "The Boys of Summer." Outstanding autumn imagery finds us driving the empty roads of a resort town recalling the lost love of a summer past. This is one of the top themes of pseudo-summer songs, also heard in
- The Motels, "Suddenly Last Summer" and
- Frank Sinatra, "The Summer Wind." Gotta give it to Frankie for best performance out of these three.
- Squeeze, "Footprints." No mention of a lost love here, just a lost season of partying and excess. Although Difford and Tilbrook drop the line, "Now it's all over and winter begins," this song lives in the chilly remembrance of early autumn.
- Sting/Eva Cassidy, "Fields of Gold." Another nostalgic song looking back at a past love from some future vantage point, the image of fully grown barley and golden colors both suggest autumn, and the somber tone of the song fits the season. Eva Cassidy's version on SONGBIRD is vastly superior to Sting's. Sorry, Sting. I like you, but that girl had some incredible soul.
I'll be playing all of these, along with some other great autmn songs, on this week's show--still on Wednesdays--from 7-9 PM Eastern. Tune in to 91.5 FM in Boston or listen to the free Web Stream at wmfo.org.