The windows in my apartment have been shut, an act that is irreversible and signals what I knew was bound to happen. Fall decided to come after all, and winter is beginning to rear its head, and I am waiting out what will probably be a few years until the landlord turns on our heat. So while we’re clinging onto Kleenex and cleaning the cough drops off the shelves, we have to keep company with songs for fall. These songs, some new and some old, have kept me warm over certain chilly months in ways that not even wood paneling and a glass of bourbon could.
The National — “Fake Empire.” I was never too big a fan of this album, but there is a certain fit between this song and carving pumpkins. Granted, I have never carved a pumpkin, or even looked at a pumpkin while listening to this song, but I can imagine the exact texture of pumpkin pulp in my hands when I listen to this song.
Leadbelly — “In the Pines.” There are a lot of old blues songs that are right at home in the foggy months of fall and winter, but the story conveyed in this traditional folk song will make you feel a little bit more grateful for where you’re shiverin’ the whole night through.
Menomena — “Wet and Rusting.” Ah, yes, the intrinsic longing of fall. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want someone to come over and use a heavy down comforter. The song has enough energy to move around a bit, but it furls its eyebrows all the time and is commendable in its acknowledgment of futility.
Karen Dalton — “A Little Bit of Rain.” Last week I was playing Karen Dalton’s album at work on a rainy day. At least 12 customers asked what was playing, and two of them even bought her album. “A Little Bit of Rain” is the song I put on all my high school mix CDs, but I’m still not tired of it. The perfect music for a gray day, Dalton’s voice hangs thick in the air and her lack of apology and regret is refreshing to hear.
Elvis Perkins — “While You Were Sleeping.” You could make a blanket of the description in this song, which rolls constantly off Perkins’ tongue without becoming flowery or overbearing. In this post-9/11 song, Perkins works with a melancholy sensibility without brooding or isolating himself from the audience.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy — “What’s Missing Is.” It’s hard to choose just one Will Oldham song for a fall playlist. This song, from his latest album, Lie Down in the Light, has a calm and steady rhythm with quiet harmonies that make the song perfect for keeping still. Whether you’re lying down to take a nap or taking a minute during the day to steady yourself, this song is beautiful in the autumn foliage.