Autumn: the season of fireworks and bonfires, digging out your scarves and giving in to months of solid, glorious carbs. Glorious, glorious carbs. Though you might be mourning the ever-diminishing cheery sunshine, Autumn can be a joyful thing too – not least because of its soundtrack. To get you in the full leaf-crunching, marshmallow-toasting spirit, here are 25 tracks that celebrate the season in all its glory.
The White Stripes – ‘Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground’
The White Stripes – ‘Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground’: On ‘White Blood Cells’ cut ‘Dead Leaves…’, Jack White takes to tinting the autumnal ideal in a gloomy and hopelessly lonely shade, singing that “I didn’t feel so bad till the sun went down”. Cheer up Jack, it’s not all bad.
Credit: Dean Chalkley/NME
Manic Street Preachers – ‘Autumnsong’
Manic Street Preachers – ‘Autumnsong’: The alt-rock Manics provide a rather more uplifting view of the season on their 2007 cut from ‘Send Away The Tigers’, telling us to “wear your hair in bunches, and your jacket loose”. Bet Nicky Wire could absolutely rock a good pair of bunches.
Credit: Tom Oxley/NME
Green Day – ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’
Green Day – ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’: Another band drawing some bleak parallels between autumn and death, here. This time, Green Day associate the season with the death of singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s father; autumn here is so dismal that he wishes to skip it completely.
Credit: Amy Brammall/NME
John Coltrane – ‘Autumn Serenade’
John Coltrane – ‘Autumn Serenade’: The legendary jazz saxophonist teamed up with singer Johnny Hartman for this sweet, sad ode to the season: “Thru the trees comes autumn with her serenade / Melodies the sweetest music ever played / Autumn kisses we knew are beautiful souvenirs.”
Eva Cassidy – ‘Autumn Leaves’
Eva Cassidy – ‘Autumn Leaves’: For those days when self-indulging in a melancholic despair seems the desirable – nay, only – option, Eva is here to supplement you with a dose of empathetic sadness. After all, there’s nothing like a bit of communal wallowing to start the month, eh?
Moody Blues – ‘Forever Autumn’
Moody Blues – ‘Forever Autumn’: The melody – which was originally written to be a jingle in a Lego advert – might sound a bit like a medieval pipe tune, but there’s still something gloomily soothing about ‘Forever Autumn’. “You always loved this time of year,” they lament to a long lost lover. Blue by name, blue by nature…
Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Leaves That Are Green’
Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Leaves That Are Green’: A typically harmonious folk song by the American duo, in which a lovely, tranquil image of “leaves that are green turn[ing] to brown” gets twisted into an extended metaphor for a deteriorating relationship. Boo, Simon and Garfunkel. Boo.
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – ‘Autumn in New York’
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – ‘Autumn in New York’: A gorgeous evocation of the season in America’s most bustling city from two vocal legends was never going to end up bad: “Autumn in New York / Why does it seem so inviting / Autumn in New York / It spells the thrill of first-nighting”. Ahhh.
The Small Faces – ‘The Autumn Stone’
The Small Faces – ‘The Autumn Stone’: From ‘Itchycoo Park’ to ‘Lazy Sunday’, The Small Faces have always focused on day to day pastimes and goings on. ‘The Autumn Stone’ is no different – using the metaphor of autumn as a time for change to reflect the changing nature of relationships. One that everyone can relate to.
Broken Bells – ‘October’
Broken Bells – ‘October’: Formed of Danger Mouse and James Mercer of The Shins, Broken Bells combine seemingly disparate influences into a joyous whole. ‘October’ – taken from the pair’s 2010 debut LP – sets its story against the “autumn moon” and remains one of their finest tracks to date.
U2 – ‘Autumn’
U2 – ‘Autumn’: U2 – aka the band everyone loves to hate – go all soft in this emotive track. It clocks in at just under two and a half minutes and mopes about how “the trees are stripped bare”, probably because he’s nicked all the apples, eh? Apples? Like Apple, because they had their album put on all the Apple phones… oh forget it.
Future Islands – ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’
Future Islands – ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’: The seasons do indeed change, as Future Islands noted on their 2014 smash, but we reckon frontman Samuel T. Herring should be alright heading into autumn. According to the latest exercise DVDs, the onstage punching gorilla dance is actually a highly effective way of retaining body heat in the colder months.
Credit: Andy Ford/NME
Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Autumn’
Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Autumn’: And we end with another seasonal metaphor for change and moving on. The London quartet’s ‘Autumn’ makes no verbal reference to the season, but its messages of walking away and not turning back make their point clearly enough.
Credit: Daniel Harris /NME