Kate Rice


It’s fall, y’all — and that means I’m adjusting my music playlists from a carefree, fun-in-the-sun feel to more autumnal vibes. To be clear, I really love autumn, but a lot of these tunes are tinged with melancholy. Here’s a smattering of songs I’ve been listening to lately…

“When October Goes” – Barry Manilow

I’m not a Barry Manilow fan. In fact, this is the only Barry song in my collection. But this gloomy song perfectly reflects this time of year. There are a few covers, but oddly enough, Barry’s version is the one I love the best.

And when October goes
The snow begins to fly
Above the smokey roofs
I watch the planes go by
The children running home
Beneath a twilight sky
Oh, for the fun of them
When I was one of them

“Autumn Leaves” – Eva Cassidy

Roughly a million folks have covered this song. But Eva Cassidy’s sweet, wistful voice makes this version literally one in a million…

“Harvest Moon” – Neil Young 

Not all autumn songs are sad! “Harvest Moon” delivers the fall vibe with a positive message — love can last.  

Because I’m still in love with youI want to see you dance againBecause I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon

“Somewhere Tonight” – Bob Seger

OK, make fun of me all you want, but I first heard “Somewhere Tonight” on Days of our Lives during the soap’s heyday in the ‘80s. While I won’t bore (or confuse) you with the details, this song was used to great effect during a particularly emotional scene (yeah, I know. They’re all emotional scenes…). While the song’s about love lost, these lyrics describe a Wyoming fall…

There’s a cold wind blowin’ from the north
And the summer birds are leavin’
As the sun slips ever further south
The lakes will soon be freezin’
And the ice will claim the empty shores
Where the ones in love went walkin’
And the hard blue skies will shiver
As the winter clouds come stalkin

“The Great Pumpkin Waltz” – Vince Guaraldi

Vince Guaraldi’s compositions always make me happy. This one feels like a nice, mellow homage to colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, hot drinks and all that’s good about autumn. If you enjoy the Charlie Brown music, give this piece a try.

“October Sky” – Yebba

Then we’re back to the melancholy. This song was written about the artist’s mother. In her own words…

“I wrote this whole story about remembering her sliding down the hall and telling us, “Come outside, we’re shooting off bottle rockets.” That memory came to me and the words just spilled out: this story of her and the promise that she broke, in a way, because she killed herself in October. I genuinely feel like she was standing there in the room with me as I was writing it, in my little studio apartment in Brooklyn.”

“Colder Weather” – Zac Brown Band

Anyone who’s ever been in a long distance relationship might recognize elements of their situation in this song. (And anyone who lives in Wyoming knows that sometimes, “colder weather” really is a legit excuse for not being able to be together…)

He said I wanna see you again
But I’m stuck in colder weather
Maybe tomorrow will be better
Can I call you then?
She said you’re ramblin’ man
You ain’t ever gonna change
You got a gypsy soul to blame
And you were born for leavin

“September” – Earth, Wind and Fire

I’ll finish with one in the cheerful category! This song just makes me wanna dance (except that Ricechicks can’t dance and it’s a damn shame…)

Do you remember
The twenty-first night of September?
Love was changin’ the minds of pretenders
While chasin’ the clouds away
Our hearts were ringin’
In the key that our souls were singin’
As we danced in the night, remember
How the stars stole the night away, oh yeah

Listen to these songs and more on my Spotify Autumn playlist. Don’t like my choices? Create a playlist of your own on iTunes, on Apple Music or by making a good old-fashioned “mix tape” (or CD). Downtown’s Sonic Rainbow is a great place to find the music that speaks to you this — or any! — time of year.