‘Tis the season for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sweaters, and cozy campfires. While it is not my favorite season of the year (that title goes to Spring), it is a very distinctive season, with distinctive weather, flavors, and sounds. Here are some of my Top 10 Songs for Autumn.
1. Jon Foreman – “Southbound Train”
Oh, well the wind starts to look like her hair
And the clouds in her bright blue eyes
As the sea and the shore fall and rise
Like her breast as she breathes by my side
Not quite sure if Jon Foreman really counts as country (I would say more folk), but either way, his lyrics are always soulful, looking for something deeper to try and explain the questions we have about our existence in the world. Basically, a chilled-out, relaxing song about love, pain, and existentialism. All of his albums are themed with a season – winter, spring, summer, and fall. I recommend giving them all a listen.
2. Jack Johnson – “Constellations”
It was just another night
With a sunset
And a moonrise not so far behind
To give us just enough light
To lay down underneath the stars
Jack Johnson is great during any season of the year, but I’ve always thought that his songs fit really well with fall and spring, seasons of decease and rebirth. This song talks about lying under constellations and listening to “papa’s translations” of stories. It always brings me back to camping during the fall, sitting around the bonfire looking up at the stars, eating smores, and sharing stories.
3. John Mayer – “St. Patrick’s Day”
Here comes the cold
Break out the winter clothes
And find a love to call your own
John Mayer is also one of those artists that is good during any season, but this song in particular is great for Autumn. He talks about finding a love in the autumn that will last him through the cold and lonely months of the winter… or, as I see it, using the seasons as an excuse to keep going out with a girl that he loves. Regardless of the lyrics, this is a great song that really captures the mood of the approaching winter.
4. The Mamas and Papas – “California Dreamin’”
All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day.
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.;
California dreamin’ on such a winter’s day.
The Mamas and Papas are quite right – California is a dream during the winter and fall, mostly because, well, nothing happens. Growing up in the Midwest has taught me that actually, 55 degrees means “t-shirt and jeans”, whereas when I last visited California and it was 55 degrees at night, my friends were zipped up to their ears with big coats. *insert rueful sighs*
5. Augustana – “Boston”
I think I need a sunrise, I’m tired of the sunset,
I hear it’s nice in the Summer, some snow would be nice.
This song can also double as a good sad breakup song, but that’s beside the point. This song is, contrary to the Mamas and Papas song, talking about GOING to somewhere where there is autumn and snow (such as Boston). There’s something charming about the beauty and misery of a cold gray sky.
6. Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends
Probably the most poignant autumn song of this generation, there has been many a joke made at the beginning of September (traditionally the month when most people begin school) to “wake me up when September ends”. Not only does the song mention summer slipping away, it’s also a song that I listened to a lot in my formative years as a moody teenager, as the leaves started to drop off the trees. Definitely an autumn sort of song.
7. Paolo Nutini – “Autumn”
Autumn leaves under frozen souls,
Hungry hands turning soft and old,
My hero cried as we stood out there in the cold,
Like these autumn leaves I don’t have nothing to hold.
Admittedly, this is a song that I hadn’t heard before typing the word “autumn song” into google, just out of curiosity. However, this is right up my alley in terms of autumn songs (if you haven’t noticed, I’ve picked a pretty specific genre for autumn…) This song is so exclusively about the Fall that it could very well likely come with a pile of multi-colored leaves to jump in to. That’s how Fall it is.
8. Death Cab for Cutie – “Grapevine Fires”
When the wind picked up the fire spread
And the grapevines seemed left for dead.
And the northern sky, like the end of day,
The end of days.
Another line from the song, “sounded like an alarm of impending doom” perfectly captures what the occasional gloominess of autumn is like. Cold weather, with lots of rain that isn’t yet snow because it’s not cold enough, it is the season that most people get sick in because of the bizarre shifts in temperature. Nothing like looking out the window at 6pm to see the sky already dark.
9. Angus and Julia Stone – “Santa Monica Dream”
Fifteen kids in the backyard drinking wine
You tell me stories of the sea
And the ones you left behind
The whole song is a reflection of times past, and of a group of friends who all had dreams and aspirations growing up together, but are now scattered somewhere in the world, not living their Santa Monica Dreams. For some inexplicable reason, this song just feels like an autumn song. The haunting, echoing timbre of Angus and Julia’s voice almost sounds like wind whispering through the falling leaves of a forest.
10. Ed Sheeran – “Autumn Leaves”
Like autumn leaves
And hush now
Close your eyes before the sleep
All the best Fall songs are about leaving, sleeping, or going away in some manner or capacity. This song is no different; in classic Ed Sheeran style, this soulful song talks about the wistfulness of someone you love leaving. Very autumn-esque, a song that goes best with a spiced mocha latte and a nice sweater.