I’ve been unabashedly reveling in every morning where we evade the chill for one more day, where I can ride my bike to work in a skirt and short sleeve shirt, where I can sit on the porch after dinner and not feel that mercury drop and the gooseflesh form. But hey — all that stopped early this week, with a final burst of indian summer and the subsequent autumn arrival. Time for scarves and cider and music that makes me feel thoughtful, wistful, warm.
Once the inspiration hit, this mix was almost harder than the summer mix I made. Summer mixes are all about toe-tapping fun and driving around with the windows down, singing along at full volume. In examining my iTunes library, I realized that perhaps I am drawn intrinsically, year-round to this sort of autumnal music, those songs with heft and subtle strength and acoustic coziness, maybe of the hippie beards-and-sweaters variety.
As much as I love the hot days of summer, I do look forward to the quiet introspection of fall.
AUTUMN LEAVES, AUTUMN STAYS: THE FUEL/FRIENDS FALL 2010 MIX
One Of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) – Bob Dylan
Because, for me, there’s no other artist that evokes autumn for me as thoroughly and immediately as Dylan. The organ crescendo in this song feels like an October carnival, exploding with caramel apples and the smell of leaves burning.
Slow Dance – Coco et Co.
This duo from Montreal has woven together a rich and gorgeous album, the sparse iciness of melody here anchored by the warm Springsteenesque timbre of Andrew Sisk and the interwoven frost of Miranda Durka. It’s autumn and winter in one song. You can get their album here for $5.
Down In The Valley – The Head And The Heart
I cannot say enough good things about these guys. This song from their self-titled debut (easily one of my favorites of the year) is steeped in referential nods to all sorts of old, good country songs and emanates a road-weary ennui. The violin also breaks my heart. I’m presenting their Nov 5th show in Denver: stay tuned for a ticket giveaway next week!
The Gospel Song – Magnet
Magnet (Even Johansen) warms his native Norway nights with this substantial stomping, clapping, banjo-laced gem.
All Through Montana – John Craigie
Remember that warm seeping feeling in your chest when you first listened to the magnificent slow burn of “Orange Sky“? This song (from San Francisco songwriter John Craigie) infuses a distinctly Western-landscape haze into that sensation. I love this song.
Bare Bones and Branches – Lewis & Clarke
One original review of this album in ’03 called it “the perfect autumnal album.” I agree.
Sin-Eaters (b-side) – The National
A tremendous b-side from the expanded version of High Violet (coming next month), all tension and velvet. This feels to me like a preface to the sadness of “Runaway.”
Si, Paloma – Sun Kil Moon
A reader suggested this intricate instrumental as the perfect fall song and I concur.
Transformation (live at eTown) – David Gray
David Gray has always felt like an October artist to me (or maybe January, but that’s another mix altogether). This melancholy piano song is fitting for this time of year when everything is being transformed by the chill.
What We Gained In The Fire – The Mynabirds
This Saddle Creek band recorded their stellar debut album with lots of whiskey and dancing in an Oregon hillside cabin. That sounds like an excellent fall weekend.
Passing Afternoon – Iron & Wine
“Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made / And she’s chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings / Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves.” Autumn isn’t autumn without Iron & Wine, yes?
Come Talk To Me (Peter Gabriel) – Bon Iver
Or Bon Iver as well? This cover is from the Record Store Day split 7″ I bought and have surely worn a groove in by now, a slow and haunting cover, with plucking banjo that sounds for all the world like rain on a tin roof.
Paint a Face – Neil Halstead
An acoustic folk album full of slow-reveal hues from this former Slowdive frontman, this was one of my favorites of 2008 and I always pull it out when the leaves start to change.
Helpless (live) – Neil Young
“There is a town in north Ontario”…. sweet jesus, talk about the high and lonesome sound — I think that tinkling piano with the piercing lone harmonica together at around 3:00 on this live version just about does me in for good. “Blue, blue windows behind the stars, yellow moon on the rise / Big birds flying across the sky, throwing shadows on our eyes….”
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Beatles) – Mumford & Sons
I can go for the Mumford & Sons sound any time of year, but they are coming to Denver at the end of this month and I am looking forward to it as a contender for show of this season (their Telluride one surely was for summer).
Storm Window (John Prine) – Josh Ritter
Folk perfection, the musical marriage of these two. “I can hear the wheels of the automobiles so far away, just moving along through the drifting snow / It’s times like these when the temperatures freeze, I sit alone just looking at the world through a storm window.” [bonus]
We Are The Tide (unreleased, live) – Blind Pilot
Blind Pilot’s smoky, rootsy, bittersweet warmth made them a shoo-in for this mix, and I was excited to find this new song that they’ve been playing live. This was recorded at MusicFestNW in Portland.
Post-War – M. Ward
One of the most perfect “slow-dance in stocking feet, finish your whiskey while you rest your head on my chest” songs that M. Ward has ever written.
It All Comes Right (Doe Bay Session) – Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives
This is one of my new favorite bands, and this singalong version of the closing track on their scuzzy, gospelly, phenomenally-good debut album is everything I want in music. Stay tuned this week for details of a house show I am throwing with them on November 4th!
[cover image credit the marvelous Dave Kurtz, from Bocumast Design & Records here in Denver, whom I adore and owe cookies to. But no chocolate.]