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Ten Songs to Listen to as Autumn Approaches

By Callum Foulds

I have found that songs have seasons. There are those that are so cold that you can’t possibly roast to in the summer time; and there are those you listen to in an attempt to warm up the winter. I have chosen ten songs that I think reflect the season of all seasons, autumn. I wanted to find sounds that make you feel as if you’re reading to the sound of rain; songs you can rock your head to as you stroll around a crisp-leafed city street; vibes that are so immaculately autumnal that you begin to see spooky decorations and pumpkins in every window. Below, I will take you through the songs I have picked to get in the mood for arguably, the best season of the year. I hope you enjoy!

‘The Hiking Song’ by Hope Sandoval & The Warm Intentions

I had to include this song for the title alone. Is there anything more autumnal that taking a hike up a rainy mountain, or embarking on a stroll through a boggy field? Hope Sandoval (also known as the voice of dream-gaze band, Mazzy Star) has a voice of velvet. It has always sounded so effortless, and really lends itself to simple moments of clarity. I constructed this list in the midst of the recent UK heatwave, and I think this is reflected in the placement of this track: I so badly wanted to take a hike into the coolness of autumn; I craved nights with a breeze slipping through the window, and I listened to this song over and over again, imagining myself atop a hill, the rain battering me. I hoped it would act as a kind of manifestation, and it worked; as I write this, I’m feeling the first hand of autumn on my shoulder, watching the students in raincoats running to escape the drizzle.

‘Duet for Guitar and Rain’ by Florist

The album this song is taken from is a whole season in itself, but this particular instrumental interlude really speaks to me. The title of the song says exactly what it is; a duet between guitar and rain. The rain hits the ground in the background in a muffled silence, and the sound of the guitar finds the balance of accompanying and respecting the natural beauty of the sound of water hitting the earth, whilst directing it into fleeting moment of bliss. There isn’t much more to say about this perfect minute of music. It quietly reflects the harmony that can be found between us and our environment, whether that be in the forest or the city.

‘Either Way’ by Wilco

Something I have always found myself doing in autumn is indulging in nostalgia. There’s something about cobbled streets strewn with piles of rotting leaves that sets memories going. I decided to include this song for this very reason. My parents listened to this song a lot when I was young, so much so that I associate it utterly with them and my childhood. Jeff Tweedy has one of the most distinctive voices in music, another one that is effortlessly warm and comforting. Of course, not everyone will experience this song the way I do; nevertheless, I think the song holds up itself. It’s a delicately uplifting ditty, for the moments when the darkening nights may be starting to get you down, and you’re yearning for the light of spring and summer; it speaks of things coming back around, always being in motion. I find that autumn is a season of reflection, when it is at it’s clearest that things always come to an end but begin again. This song find solace in the reality of life, and that release is how we continue.

‘Lilacs’ by Waxahatchee

To quote my partner, and fellow autumn enthusiast, “Waxahatchee’s music makes me think of going down to the lake.” At the time he said this I didn’t understand what he meant, but finally I understand this vibe he gets. ‘Lilacs’ is from 2020’s country-tinged masterpiece Saint Cloud; a perfect album of mood and simplicity. ‘Lilacs’ was a stand out for me for it’s Bob Dylan-like song writing and fading sunlight vibe it conjures. Admittedly, I do think it could also fit in a summer iteration of this list, but there is a real accomplishment of bottling that final-days-of-summer energy, when you’re noticing the wind has a slight bite to it and you’re needing a couple of extra layers on in bed. Waxahatchee’s voice is like bonfire smoke; it’s grainy and whispery, but still impactful with it’s distinct natural brightness. This is a perfect track for those last few days of bright sun and cloudless blue-white skies.

‘Requiem String Melody’ by Stars Of The Lid

Stars Of The Lid are a recent discovery of mine. I have been enjoying more ambient, neo-classical music of late, and this band has a certain smokiness that I haven’t heard anywhere else. Around this time last year, I began listening to my radio the quietest it could be without being silent when falling asleep. I would listen to BBC Radio 3, as the various classical pieces played through the early hours were perpetually muffled by the static and hiss of the radio speakers. It was a haunting comfort that became a valued part of my routine. ‘Requiem String Melody’, and the album it is pulled from, possesses the same ghostly aura that lulled me to sleep. There are moments on the record when you can hear a thunderstorm; you hear a radio broadcaster talking about the band, reminiscent of the famously soothing shipping forecast program; and on the song I have chosen here, a simple quartet play a piece sounding as if it were recorded a century ago. There is a sadness to autumn, and I think Stars Of The Lid echo this feeling so well. I will be playing this song through the season, with the hope of being afforded a regular good night sleep.

‘Farm’ by Skullcrusher

Despite what the name may suggest, Skullcrusher is not a black metal band. Helen Ballentine creates ambient folk music. The juxtaposition of such a striking name alongside the music released under it is very intriguing to me, and I can’t help but feel that the contrast is reminiscent of autumn. The brutality of the season is often overlooked: nature is beginning it’s descent into death; animals go into hibernation, yet autumn is arguably the prettiest season; trees are painted with so many colours; the rain makes everything that is green more green. ‘Farm’ is a particularly poignant song about loss and realisation, but the music couldn’t be more gentle; the image of the wind taking grip of a bunch of leaves, plucked from a giant oak and spread across a field. The song is moody and ethereal – the perfect example of an autumn song that captures the movements of the season.

‘Nervous Driver’ by Lomelda

A couple of years ago I had the distinct pleasure of taking part in a song writing class led by Hannah Read, the singer-songwriter behind Lomelda. It was late summer, and my own writing practice was feeling a little stale, so I relished the opportunity to gain insight into the processes behind some of my favourite songs. She spoke of different methods she used and how to create songs that are rewarding to the artist and listener. Part of the class included Read setting tool based homework, and us students going away and coming back to share what we had made using the tool. Within this I wrote some of my favourite songs and met so many lovely people from around the world, and it’s something that I will forever be thankful for. Although this song has that autumnal vibe, it is the association I have with the artist that I decided to include it here. I feel very lucky to have had such an experience that marks a positive time in my life.

‘Disengaged’ by Grouper

Now this is when things start to get spooky. From the very first notes of, ‘Disengaged’ it is clear that this song is meant for Halloween. It makes me want to go back in time, back to when I would dress up and go trick-or-treating around the dark village I grew up in, acting as if the medieval churchyard didn’t scare me to death, and that I was so certain that ghosts were not real. I am not sure if I was successful in this act, but nonetheless, I loved Halloween. Despite not taking part in the street festivities for many years now, the sense of jubilant mischief and the slither of menace that permeates the air always sets my scare loving heart ablaze! There is a childlike malevolence that hangs over the simple melodies of this song, before disintegrating into a dark hole of distortion and fuzz. Grouper is a great artist to put on a loop at this time of year; ‘Disengaged’, is a particularly chilling moment in her discography; a perfect tune to get ready for the spooky season.

‘Ptolemaea’ by Ethel Cain

So, now that Halloween is here, what is the first thing you do? You scare yourself silly! That is what happened the first time I heard this song – it made me jump out of my skin. I am a big horror movie fan, the more disturbing the better, yet I had never come across the idea of horror music. Ethel Cain utilises this idea so well, flexing her abilities to terrify on this song in particular. I won’t give away the secrets of this record, but the album ‘Ptolemaea’ is taken from follows a story with a pretty grisly finale. It was one of my favourite albums from last year; not only for Cain’s leaping vocals, but for the horrifying scope of the project. It makes me want to swish around in a long black cloak, haunting an abandoned barn in the middle of the night, inspiring legends of vicious spirits! As a song, it’s a lot of fun, and I think it’ll get you in the mood proper for the creepiest night of the year.

‘Killer’ by Phoebe Bridgers

Now I couldn’t get through this list without mentioning the queen of autumnal moods. From her first record, Stranger in the Alps, ‘Killer’ is a track that is on the side of the coldly devastating, rather than the warmly so. I say this because the lyrics are just so relentlessly bleak, that it only deems appropriate to listen to as Halloween waves farewell and we look with baited breath towards winter. As mentioned at the beginning of this list, I believe that all songs have seasons: ‘Killer’ represents that time between the latter seasons; everything starts to blacken and the air tastes metallic; there is more night than day and so we gather inside. In the same way there is comfort in the bittersweet life cycle of nature, there is comfort to be had in the saddest of songs. This song wraps around you like a blanket and sinks into your body like hot coffee down your throat. As a huge Bridgers fan, I of course believe that any song of Bridgers’ could easily fit in here; however, I chose ‘Killer’ as I think it stands out in her discography as a song that blends the beauty of decay and loss with the sorrow seamlessly, evoking a very specific feeling, that to me is only imitated amidst the thick of autumn.

I hope the songs I have put on this list inspire a certain brevity in which you carry with you into and through the autumn period. I will be listening to this playlist as the leaves turn brown and the breeze carries the scent of smoke and rain; I also hope that they inspire you to take account of your environment and think about how you relate to your surroundings. I personally find the change in seasons a tricky time, so I turn to music to gently tilt me in the right direction. I know that I love autumn, I just have to be reminded of it every now and then. Listen to a playlist with the songs here.


About the Writer:

Callum Foulds is a poet and recording artist based in Nottingham, England. They enjoy good food, scary movies and playing with their cat. They can often be found reading on the couch, or agonising over whatever creative venture they are currently embarking on. @cf_oulds



What a beautiful piece of writing Callum ; you have inspired me to get outside and immerse myself in this glorious season and of course with your playlist for company x

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