By James Sandham
Well, music lover, somehow it’s already October, Thanksgiving has slipped by, and I’ve had to dig out all those sweaters it feels like I only packed away a few months ago. Yes, autumn is here in all its glory.
It’s the perfect time of year to slow down, relax and appreciate what’s going on around us: the leaves changing colours, the air growing crisper and cooler. And there’s something about the sun this time of year – it reminds me of honey, all golden and viscous. It really is beautiful, and there’s nothing that helps heighten the appreciation of autumn more than some good music – so, to that end, I’ve put together a few songs for the season.
Oliver Schroer – “Field of Stars”
I’ve been in love with this song lately. It’s like the aural equivalent of walking through an autumn forest as the sun slants through the coloured leaves – there’s an element of the divine hidden somewhere in there. It’s composed and played by Ontario-born fiddler Oliver Schroer, a former Toronto street busker, JUNO Award nominee and prolific composer. It comes from his album Camino, which was recorded in churches as he, his wife and two friends walked the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail in 2004.
Brigitte Bardot – “Un jour comme un autre”
This song doesn’t have anything to do with autumn per se, but I’ve been playing it a lot lately, and I think it’s because the fall always makes me a little more predisposed to classic oldies like this one. There’s something inherently nostalgic about this season, and tunes like this one just seem to go hand-in-hand with fall. Not to mention the subtle underlying melancholy of the season – while autumn is beautiful, there’s also something sad about it as things end, the year edges toward conclusion and the vibrancy of summer fades. This song is perfect for watching leaves drift from the trees on those grey autumn days. It’s sung, of course, by famous French fashion model, actress and singer Brigitte Bardot, an icon of the 1960s.
Georgie Fame – “Sitting in the Park”
Speaking of classics from the ’60s, I had to include this one: Georgie Fame”s cover of the 1965 Billy Stewart single “Sitting in the Park.” It’s another good nostalgic song for autumn, particularly for strolling around in parks, which is de rigueur for this time of year (you gotta get out where the trees are). Fame is a British musician, probably best known for his jazz work, who had a variety of hits in the ’60s.
Miles Davis – “Nuit sur les Champs-lyses”
This is a song from the French film Ascenseur pour l’chafaud, which was released in North America with the title Elevator to the Gallows, and it’s probably one of my favourite tracks by Miles Davis. Listening to it immediately calls up imagery. For me, it’s sitting alone on an autumn night, the street outside your window deserted, lights reflecting off the rain-slicked road and drizzle pattering against the window (possibly, as long as we’re idealizing here, while drinking a good glass of port). This song is quiet autumn nights at their finest.
Chet Baker – “Autumn Leaves”
And as long as we’re talking autumn and jazz, how could we omit this one? This song is autumn, its very own little soundtrack, and it’s been covered by practically every jazz player worth knowing since it was originally written in 1945 by Hungarian musician Joseph Kosma and French poet Jacques Prevert. The song’s French title was “Les feuilles mortes”(“Dead Leaves”), and American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics (which are absent from this version). It quickly became a pop and jazz standard.
Hope these songs put you in a seasonal mood. Have a wonderful autumn!