By Megan Paolone
With the leaves changing and cooler weather finally descending on Syracuse, fall has officially arrived. Like many others, I’m sure, I love fall, and it’s also the time of year that I listen to the most music tied to my favorite memories. Yes, I’m a huge cheeseball (but, if you’re reading this, you probably are too). So, I give you my top choices for a playlist of eclectic autumn tunes to enjoy while you’re sipping a pumpkin spice latté on the Quad:
“Autumn Almanac” by The Kinks: “Autumn Almanac” is simple and catchy in a way that most songs just aren’t anymore. Ray Davies’ lyrics are the perfect imagery of an autumn afternoon: “Breeze blows leaves of a musty-colored yellow. So I sweep them in my sack, yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac.”
“Dark Matter” by Andrew Bird: Multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bird is one of the most talented live performers I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing, and his violin-laden music with clever turns of phrase and the occasional whistle is unrivaled for easy fall listening. On “Dark Matter” he sings of the unfamiliar and standing on the edge of unknown.
“Grand Theft Autumn” by Fall Out Boy: I’m not apologizing for this … at all. My eighth-through-10th grade self will love this song forever, and given the fact that I saw Pete Wentz and company live an embarrassing amount of times during those intervening years (including one time I called a radio station and won tickets), “Grand Theft Autumn” totally deserves a spot on my playlist, even if its lyrics have virtually nothing to do with the season.
“I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light” by Brand New: Brand New will forever be one of my favorite bands, and Jesse Lacey really shows off his lyrical chops on the band’s sophomore release, 2003’s Deja Entendu. “The time has come for colds and overcoats,” Lacey sings, calling forth images of the changing seasons throughout the song.
“Westfall” by Okkervil River: This haunting song is a fan favorite at live shows, and though it’s not explicitly about the fall, its dark lyrics juxtaposed against upbeat melodies are fitting for this time of year. Frontman and lyricist Will Sheff sings of an unnamed murderer in his signature unhinged voice accompanied by his acoustic guitar.
“The Sweater Song” by Weezer: So classically Weezer, “The Sweater Song” is here for obvious reasons: people wear sweaters during the fall, duh. Rivers Cuomo sings, “If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away.”
“Middle Distance Runner” by Sea Wolf: With their simple lyrics and folk-infused melodies, literally any Sea Wolf song would have fit well on this list. Off 2009’s Leaves in the River, “Middle Distance Runner” marches along with slow, mellow notes and backing strings, likening love to a track meet.
“Mansard Roof” by Vampire Weekend: Perhaps it’s because the first time I saw Vampire Weekend live was at the end of September and because they’ve got a song set on a college campus, but their fun poppy music always reminds me of the fall. Plus, it’s a nice departure from the mostly acoustic fare that I’ve included here.
“Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” by The White Stripes: One of my favorite White Stripes songs, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” is the noisy rock track that’s needed on this list. Jack White’s raucous guitar mirrors his voice as he sings about his own twisted ideas of loyalty.
“New Slang” by The Shins: Sure, most people started listening to The Shins after Garden State, and the band’s new record sort of sucks, but that doesn’t lessen the artistry of its earlier work. James Mercer’s lyrics are relatable on so many levels, and it’s impossible not to picture this image-laden track coming through your headphones as you walk to class under falling leaves.
“Jejune Stars” by Bright Eyes: I’m not always the biggest fan of Bright Eyes’ music, but I really enjoyed “Jejune Stars” off their newest album, The People’s Key. It’s nostalgic in the way that I like a lot of my fall music to be and fast-paced in a way that most Bright Eyes songs aren’t.
“Autumn Fallin’” by Jaymay: Jaymay’s music is uncomplicated and sounds effortless, and “Autumn Fallin’” is no exception. She sings of the end of autumn and falling for a friend in a beautifully melancholy way that draws you back again and again.
“Scenic World” by Beirut: Who the hell am I kidding? This song is breathtaking year round with direct lyrics about appreciating the beauty of the world around us. I could get lost in this song forever.
“Ho Hey” by The Lumineers: “Ho Hey” is yet another acoustic ditty, but hey, you’ve gotta admit they’re great for this time of year. I’d like to see anyone try and argue that. Sweet and uncomplicated, it’s a nice little love song: “I belong with you, and you belong with me. You’re my sweetheart.”
“Harvest Moon,” Neil Young: One of Young’s classic tunes, “Harvest Moon” is the perfect way to end this list. It’s a beautifully simple song with a cheesy early 90s music video for your viewing enjoyment. While you’re at it, check out Kevin Devine’s great cover.
What are your favorite fall songs? Post them in the comments below!