Every season has a soundtrack. The soundscapes of fall stretch from rustic folk songs to emotive art pop to ethereal indie rap. Where all these different types of songs intertwine is in their profound ability to accompany us in times of introspection, keep us warm amid chilly nights creeping in, and comfort us as we let go of the past and brace for change.
Curated by artists, writers and music lovers from all over the country, we’ve put together a seasonal mix of some great fall tunes we think are worth spending time with. Stream the playlist below and read what our curators have to say about their song picks and what the fall means to them.
Writer Anna Podkowski on Bill Callahan’s “Writing” and “Connie Converse’s “How Sad, How Lovely” // @anna.pods
Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest nails an ineffable mood that i grew up with during autumn near the great lakes, and that specific track (“Writing”) just seeps this warm and lovely pastoral energy. I have to go with “How Sad, How Lovely by Connie Converse for the other. I always associate fall with nostalgia, and all the recordings of Connie that I’ve heard have a bittersweet, ghostly quality that fits nicely into the season’s timelessness.
Writer Erica Garcia on The Paper Kites’ “Woodland” // @ericadanlle
Australian indie-rock folk band, The Paper Kites, created the soundtrack to watching the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. Singing, “Oh we play, In autumn days / Won’t lay down our heads till the day is won / Won’t stop running till we reach the sun,” the song is a beautiful way to welcome the colder weather, and a reminder that even as leaves fall and dark skies last longer, there is still a youth and beauty in all of it.
Writer Gaby Johnsen on First Aid Kit’s “Shattered & Hollow” // @gaby.johnsen
This is my ideal fall folk song: doubtful and hopeful in equal measure. For me, the fall is a strange mixture of death and rebirth. I grew up in a place where the colorful, dying leaves were a constant reminder of the approaching winter, but at the same time I would spend the season making new discoveries and taking advantage of the new opportunities and new relationships that came with the start of another school year. I listened to this song a lot in the fall of my senior year of high school, and it settled my nerves about the uncertainty of my future. It’s an amalgamation of peace and disorder – of the old, the new, the past, and the future.
Atlanta rapper Imp on Jason Isbell’s “If We Were Vampires” // @TheUncannyImp
“If We Were Vampires” is the epitome of bittersweet; Isbell croons unabashed, sincere adoration for his wife, melancholic only in that their mortality will one day ruin their union. His wife, Amanda Shires, duets with him during the chorus, making the tune all the more heartfelt. Subverting the trope of the vampire, Isbell transforms them from parasitic anomalies to beings who love for the sake of loving with no regard to time limits. In doing so, he acknowledges the fleeting nature of life is perhaps “a gift,” wherein he knows he must dedicate what time he has left alive to venerate his Shires.
Producer/Songwriter/Multi-instrumentalist Maxton Schulte on The Beach Boys’ “Lavender Take 4),” Buffalo Springfield’s “Pretty Girl Why” and Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” // @maxtonschulte
These are very wholesome, grounded and also underrated songs by some of my favorite bands that I found myself returning to these last few weeks of fall.
Writer and Editor Roberto Johnson on Nico’s “These Days” // @robertoj007
“These Days” is an amalgamation of many different 1960s tropes, both socially and artistically. The song embodies the philosophy of a tried troubadour, which is hardly shocking, considering it was written by Nico’s then boyfriend, the great Jackson Browne. Yet Nico’s rendition has always resonated in a unique way. Her chilling, monotonous delivery evokes an icy and empty heartache that’s all her own. It’s a ballad of lacerating loneliness meant to be absorbed in solitude, but beautiful to the point that sharing it with others is a necessity.
Writer Tyler Blankinship on the essence of fall // @__solodolo__
To me fall is all about re-examining priorities, purging the old, and setting up for the future. All of these songs are very meditative and sparse, fitting with the more chilling and somber month but all also holding onto hope.