[Today: Falling into Fall...]
We moved the clocks back an hour on Saturday night, always a sure sign that Autumn has us once again in its wooly grasp. The Bay Area enjoys an indian summer each year – October, not July, is the typical month for our sweltering, 100° days. But even here, around about the end of October, once Neil Young’s annual Bridge Benefit concert is in the books and the kids have come by for their Halloween candy, the air gets a nip to it and the trees start to do the color thing. Daylight Savings is when the boom really falls, and all of a sudden it’s F-A-L-L , or more truthfully, pre-Winter – a few weeks of falling leaves, then the rains set in until Spring. Wash, rinse, repeat…
This is the time of year I start reaching for any album by The Band, as well as Josh Ritter’s Golden Age Of Radio, Neil Young’s Harvest, Gary Higgins’ Red Hash, Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Fairport Convention’s Unhalfbricking, Skip Spence’s Oar, The Cure’s Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter, The Peddlers’ Suite London and a handful of other albums that have come to epitomize the season for this old geezer.
After their first two LPs, The Band made a series of sturdy if unspectacular albums that each contributed a couple of songs to their subsequent Best Of compilations. Cahoots has ‘Life Is A Carnival’ and ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’, but it’s the stuff off the beaten path that makes this one worthwhile. ‘4% Pantomime’ is allegedly the result of an all-night, drunken jam session (with a certain Celtic singer who’s barred from these premises) and, as the story goes, the song was a made-up-on-the-spot, one-take affair. ‘Smoke Signal’ sounds like something from the world’s best hoe-down. ‘Volcano’ features plenty of horns, and sharp, smart guitar solos courtesy of Robbie Robertson, and is one of their great unsung tunes. Recounting a summer picnic gone by, ‘The River Hymn’ sounds like Autumn itself. But for these ears, so do most of The Band’s songs…
I’ve spent the last year flogging Fleet Foxes like Billy Mays on crystal meth, so I’ll spare you additional exclamations. But here too is an album that sounds like it was hewn from virigin timbers, by the golden light of a harvest moon. Some people dress for the weather – I listen for it…
Listen: 4% Pantomime [The Band]
Listen: Blue Ridge Mountains [Fleet Foxes]
Listen: The River Hymn [The Band]
Listen: White Winter Hymnal [Fleet Foxes]
QUESTION: What album reminds you of Autumn?