An ode to my favorite fall music

Now that it’s officially cold outside (I’m in a hoodie every moment I’m not in “fancy” dress clothes!) and I’m running in and out of my heated car and office building, it’s time for some excellent cold weather tunes!

Everyone has music that reminds them of special things in their life — summer, winter, senior year, college, first love . . . music is what connects all of us and brings us back to those really incredible points in life like nothing else can. Between music and getting a random sample of cologne while out innocently marching through a department store or grabbing groceries, I can find myself nineteen again — or five, or twelve, or twenty-two.

And musically, the fall for me is all about . . . thinking, reflecting, becoming all nostalgic and crazy. I guess it’s the whole cyclical nature of things — getting ready to usher in another holiday season, looking back at all the time that has already passed, putting away the sandals and replacing them with boots and jackets. It’s another transition. And these are the folks that always come along for the ride with me . . .

Ingrid Michaelson

I adore her whimsical, light and pitch-perfect voice. I don’t think life gets much better than hunkering down in your Toyota, waiting for the heat to kick on and defrost your windshield while humming along to “The Way I Am” (the sweater song from the Old Navy commercial — yeah, you know it), “The Hat” or one of her newest ones, “The Chain.”

“The sky looks pissed. The wind talks back . . . my bones are shifting in my skin. And you, my love, are gone. My room seems wrong. The bed won’t fit. I cannot seem to operate. And you, my love, are gone. So glide away on soapy heels and promise not to promise anymore . . . and if you come around again, then I will take the chain from off the door.”

I bought Ingrid’s album Girls and Boys last fall and listened to nonstop through Christmas . . . it’s one of my favorite albums to listen to while writing. In fact, my NaNo novel last year was built in part after listening to “The Hat” for the hundredth time! Such an awesome song.

“I knitted you a hat all blue and gold to keep your ears warm from the Binghamton cold. It was my first one and it was too small; it didn’t fit you at all, but you wore it just the same. I remember the first time we danced. I remember tunneling through the snow like ants . . . What I don’t recall is why I said, ‘I simply can’t sleep in this tiny bed with you — anymore.’ I should tell you that you were my first love.”

Her lyrics sort of punch you in the gut with their simplicity — when you say “I should tell you that you were my first love,” there’s no real hiding from that — or misinterpreting it. It just is.

Death Cab for Cutie

Despite the fact that some Death Cab songs bring on a bought of nausea that can only be commonly associated with memories of ex-boyfriends so strong they seem to incapacitate me at bad points, I still adore them — and think of “Soul Meets Body” as soon as it starts getting chilly. While my favorite song — “Tiny Vessels,” off Transatlanticism — is really more of a “spring” type of song, most of the others have definitive fall and winterish overtones. Case in point for me, “Title and Registration”:

“The glove compartment isn’t accurately named — and everybody knows it. So I’m proposing a swift, orderly change . . . ’cause behind its door, there’s nothing to keep my fingers warm. And all I find are souvenirs from better times, before the gleam of your tailights fading east to find yourself a better life . . . but there’s no blame for how our love did slowly fade. Now that it’s gone, it’s like it wasn’t there at all . . . “

Ouch! Thanks, Death Cab. Very reflective — so very fall.

The Fray

I love The Fray for many reasons, not the least of which being their melodies are haunting and crazy and swim in and out of my head constantly. I listened to them the fall of my senior year on constant repeat, going to see them with my friend Neal that October and cranking up their live album all the way through finals. I don’t think I did much breathing without The Fray that year.

“Trust Me” gets me every time — and I’m not afraid to say I usually shed a few tears when it comes on! I don’t know why, exactly. It’s not an inherently sad song. Definitely one of my favorite fall songs . . .

“We’re only taking turns holding this world . . . it’s how it’s always been. When you’re older, you will understand. If I say who I know, well, it just goes to show you need me less than I need you . . . I’ll try to get out but I never will, ’cause traffic is perfectly still . . .”

John Mayer

Yeah, John goes without saying. Lay down and wrap yourself up with an early tune like “Quiet” and you’ll know just what I mean. It’s all space and acoustics:

“Midnight, lock all the doors and turn out the lights. Feels like the end of the world this Sunday night . . . there’s not a sound. Outside, the snow’s coming down. And still I can’t seem to find the quiet inside my mind . . .”

I won’t stop there, of course. I have to mention possibly my favorite JM song of all time, “Split Screen Sadness.” I can’t really say it’s my favorite song because that probably changes daily . . . but I do love it. Intensely.

“All you need is love is a lie ’cause we had our love but we still said goodbye. Now we’re tired, battered fighters . . . And it stings when it’s nobody’s fault ’cause there’s nothing to blame at the top of your name — it’s only the air you took and the breath you left . . .”

And “Something’s Missing” is standard fall music fare, especially because of one classic line:

“When autumn comes, it doesn’t ask — it just walks in where it left you last. You’ll never know when it starts until there’s fog inside the glass around your summer heart . . .”

“Covered In Rain” always entrances me, too, burying me in the lengthy guitar solos and breathy, melancholy words:

“And these days with the world getting colder, she spends more time sleeping over than I planned . . . Tonight we’re gonna order in, drinking wine and watching CNN. It’s dark I know, but then again, it’s the brightest thing I got when I’m covered in rain . . .”

I’m realizing that all the songs I’m picking are rather sad. That’s fitting, unfortunately! I love autumn (as evidenced by my excessive posts on the subject) but it does usher in an innate sense of foreboding as the air gets chillier and the sun begins to disappear. That’s human nature, right?

Does anyone else listen to anything really special in the fall? Am I totally losing my mind?

One thought on “An ode to my favorite fall music

  1. Excellent JM selections! I’m also really attached to music from certain periods of my life (aren’t we all?), and for me, fall is all about slow and mellow Counting Crows songs and Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue.” Just thinking about it makes me want to head home and curl up on the couch.


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