One year ago, LxL brought you our top ten albums of autumn, which we posted again this morning because we still feel it is a very strong list. Never ones to sit on our laurels though, we thought we could tackle the best songs of autumn, which is a much more convoluted conversation. Do we insist the song make mention to falling leaves, postseason baseball, or pumpkin patches? Do we go by feeling? We did exactly what we always do, which is whatever the hell we want.
Fall brings about a lot of different emotions, memories, and feelings for everyone. For Todd, Wes, and I, autumn is probably most closely tied to our rural Indiana upbringing, where hooded sweatshirts, Friday night football games, bonfires on the peninsula, and homecoming were the most important thing in our lives for years. Luckily our horizons have expanded, but that in no way taints the memories of humble beginnings. We are and will always be Midwesterners at heart, and these are a few of the songs that take us back to those glorious days. Enjoy our top ten songs of autumn, and as always remind us what we missed or errantly included.
10. Guns n’ Roses – “November Rain”
Guns n’ Roses made their bones on super-hard escalating arena rock, but in their short time as a relevant outfit they also released the more low-key arena rock stunner, “November Rain”. The chorale overtures and piano base don’t illegitamize GnR’s badass persona, but instead put forth a vulnerability previously not revealed.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Patiently waiting for the guitar solo while sitting around a bonfire and then erupting into air guitar along with Slash when the time is appropriate.
9. Joanna Newsom – “Autumn”
Joanna Newsom’s entire last album, Have One On Me, has the particular autumnal feel of something fading away that is outside your control. Even her widely varied vocal patterns hint at the unpredictability of the season and everything it has to bring.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Sitting on the screened-porch cradling a tumbler of whiskey and watching an autumn shower.
8. Counting Crows – “Round Here”
Adam Duritz & company will forever be one of those polarizing bands that people either love or hate. What can’t be denied is the melancholic feeling evoked by the majority of their catalog, which is perfectly exemplified on “Round Here”. Fall is a time to contemplate the year’s past, and no one takes you back like Counting Crows.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Grabbing a cup of coffee to catch up with a friend with who it has simply been way too long.
7. Red House Painters – “Feel the Rain Fall”
This is one of those classic road songs, speaking to rain coming down, seasons change, and going back to a different place. If that doesn’t scream fall, I don’t know what does, and it’s all the better coming from one of the 90’s most unappreciated groups.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Making the drive home for thanksgiving to spend some quality time with family.
6. My Morning Jacket – “Where to Begin”
This Z b-side is on Todd’s favorite soundtrack from Todd’s favorite movie, Elizabethtown. In fact, Todd suggested we just ordered the tracks from the soundtrack for our Autumn list. Wes and I had to step in and convince him there was no fun in that. Either way, “Where to Begin” is more than deserving for the fifth spot, with Jim James pained vocalizations and the meandering guitar play.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Watching Elizabethtown with Todd, as I’m pretty sure he has the only remaining copy.
5. Blitzen Trapper – “Furr”
Nothing like a little alt-country to make your autumn a good one. Blitzen Trapper is one of our go-to bands for just such, and “Furr” emotes that rural Indiana feeling Todd, Wes, and I are so fond of, reminding us all why there is one season we would be sure to miss if living on the left coast.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Night canoeing on the mighty St. Joe river…possibly at night.
4. Tom Waits – “Hold On”
We often want things that are near the end of their natural life to “hold on”. Dying loved ones, relationships, and even favorite seasons are held onto tight long after they run their course, and Tom Waits perfectly communicates this in “Hold On”. Bonus points for having the lyric, “St. Louis got the best of me”
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Enjoying your preferred method of tobacco consumption in the woods. Yes, anywhere in the woods.
3. Neil Young – “Harvest Moon”
On Uncle Neil’s latter-career gem, “Harvest Moon”, he sounds as whimsical as he has sounded on anything since “Expecting to Fly”. “Harvest Moon” proves although the body may grow older and wearier, it is possible for feelings and emotions to always remain those of an 18-year-old, in love for the first time.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Enjoying a drive through the country to admire the changing foliage.
2. Bob Dylan – “Girl From the North Country”
I think “Girl From the North Country” is in the top five favorite Dylan tracks for all three of us. The lyrical and musical simplicity sometimes hides how deeply felt this song really is, but it will always represent the pinnacle of the “far away love” theme in songwriting for me.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Getting all your winter gear out of the closet to prepare for winter, because in the words of Ned Stark, “Winter is Coming”.
1. The White Stripes – “Dead Leaves & the Dirty Ground”
We think of autumn songs as mostly melancholic, but leave it to The White Stripes to bring a fall song that rocks the yellow, orange, and red off every tree in the neighborhood. This is not autumn for the faint of heart, so strap in and rock with the Stripes.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Indulging in a tackle football game with family and friends, preferably around Thanksgiving.
Wes: Jens Lekman – “Maple Leaves”
Wes is pretty into Jens Lekman. Not sexually, but musically, just to be clear because his wife regularly reads this blog. As averse as I am to Lekman’s music as a whole, I do enjoy this track, with the insistent drumming and almost antique sounding production.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Preparing a holiday meal, complete with cranberry sauce and candied yams.
Todd: Bruce Springsteen – “Nebraska”
Outside of Omaha, Nebraska is a pretty brutal state. I’m sure the people are great, but there is just not much out there. Ol’ Bruce should have cut his losses and called it “Indiana”, but that is just one man’s opinion. Still a great track.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Calmly contemplating America, and everything it means to you, just like The Boss every single minute of every single day of his life.
Austin: Neil Diamond – “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”
It is no secret and I am not ashamed that I have a special affinity for Neil Diamond, even choosing his greatest hits as my “just missed” on our best fall albums list. Yes, Jew Elvis holds a special place in my heart, and I ask only that you make a similar place in your own heart.
LxL recommends listening to this tune in the autumn while: Packing up the babies and grabbing the old ladies on your way to Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.
So there’s the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, got right, or just rip on us in general.