The season of fall is a beautiful time of year. The leaves begin to change colors to shades of red and orange before gently falling to the ground.
Naturally, artists find it fulfilling to write songs that encapsulate the beauty of the world as it prepares for colder days.
Some of the best songs about fall have been performed by the most well-known musical artists of all time. Read on to find out some of the best songs about fall.
“Autumn in New York” – Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald
“Autumn in New York” is a beautiful song by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. While the tune is slow and melancholic, the lyrics are a beautiful description of how appealing New York City is in autumn.
Louis Armstrong’s instrumental genius accompanies Ella Fitzgerald’s stunning vocals to create a work of art as gorgeous as fall itself.
Autumn promises rebirth in the spring, and that is how the song sees love in the city. The singers can see from the bustling city crowds that new love is sure to come to New York.
“Wake Me Up Before September Ends” – Green Day
In one of Green Day’s most popular songs, the band asks the listener to wake him up when September ends.
This song does reference the end of summer, and how the end of September would put him right into fall. However, the song has a much deeper meaning.
When the lead singer’s father passed away from cancer, he locked himself in his room and told his mother to wake him up when September ends. That makes this song one of the most emotional songs about fall.
“Harvest Moon” – Neil Young
This song by singer Neil Young is a romantic song that revolves around two lovers who dance together under the moon. Specifically, the harvest moon that signifies the end of summer and the start of fall.
The 1992 hit is one of the best songs about autumn, even if its underlying message is haunting. It sounds very sweet, but to Young, it tells a longing story of how he misses dancing underneath the harvest moon with his late wife, whom he loves very much.
“November Rain” – Guns N’ Roses
The 1991 hit “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses is one of the best rock songs about fall. Lyrics, however, are, first and foremost centered on unrequited love.
The singer struggles to deal with a woman who does not love him back, and so he likens the experience to holding a candle in November rain.
The rains of autumn can be particularly cold and brutal, making it the perfect metaphor for this situation. There is no way to keep a candle aflame, and no way to hold onto an unrequited love.
“September” – Earth, Wind & Fire
This funky masterpiece by Earth, Wind & Fire is sure to get everyone on the dance floor for a groovy dance.
The song looks back on the great memories of a specific day in September, encouraging its listeners to enjoy every moment so that they may look back with fondness on the past.
The song mentions the 21st night of September, which gives fans a great reason to sing it on the first day of every fall.
“Sweater Weather” – The Neighborhood
This tune by The Neighborhood is one of the best cozy fall songs out there, and yet it is a fairly intimate piece of work.
There is no time of year that is quite as comfy as fall because so many people bundle up in the warmth of sweaters.
The song uses the weather (which prompts two lovers to cuddle together) as a means to talk about their lovemaking.
“Autumn Almanac” – The Kinks
This song by The Kinks is a feel-good tune that focuses on the beautiful little things that come with the dawn of autumn. Caterpillars, yellow leaves, cool breezes, and warm cups of tea are among the autumnal imagery that the band uses.
The upbeat and catchy tune makes it a great year-round song, but it feels especially wonderful to sing it once the air becomes crisper.
“California Dreamin’” – The Mamas & the Papas
“California Dreamin’” by the Mamas & the Papas is a very cinematic song that is also one of the greatest karaoke songs ever.
It reflects on how all of the leaves are brown as the season changes from autumn to winter, which is why they dream so dearly of a warm California day.
“Leaves that are Green” – Simon & Garfunkel
In this song, evergreen artists Simon & Garfunkel use autumn as a metaphor for the passing of time.
It follows the story of an aging young man while the imagery of his life runs parallel to that of autumn leaves withering to brown and falling off the trees.
The use of fall gets the song’s point about the permanence of elapsed time to the listener.
“Autumn Leaves” – Frank Sinatra
Iconic singer Frank Sinatra sings one of the cozy fall songs in his 1957 release “Autumn Leaves.” He reflects on missing someone special when summer leaves and autumn arrives. Maybe it is summer itself, or perhaps a beautiful woman who left him when the summertime did.
The sweet and slightly melancholy tune has so much cultural significance that musical artists are still covering it and putting their twists on the best of the old songs about autumn. Eva Cassidy, Eric Clapton, and Edith Piaf are among some of the famed artists to do their renditions of Sinatra’s melancholy melody.
“Autumn’s Not That Cold” – Lorrie Morgan
Morgan watches the leaves turn to shades of fall and realises, in the wake of a breakup, that change isn’t that scary after all. “I’m just not that lonesome and autumn’s not that cold,” she sings. The colder weather that she’s been dreading doesn’t really hit her – instead, she takes in the season around her and realises that there’s lots to love about it. Poetic and empowering, it’s a wonderful fall break-up track.
“Pale September” – Fiona Apple
Apple’s melancholy ode to early fall contains some beautifully poetic descriptions of the season. The gentle track describes the early blossoming of a relationship, and the feelings of safety that the new love brings. We’ve all enjoyed that feeling of burrowing down as the months turn colder, and Apple describes how nice it can be to have someone to do that with. The track was featured on Apple’s debut album Tidal.
“Autumn Sweater” – Yo La Tengo
The protagonist of this Yo La Tengo track is having a surreptitious love affair with a knitwear-wearing girl. The problem is that when they are alone together, he doesn’t know how to communicate with her. He also seems pretty fixated on her autumn sweater. The track blends electronic sounds in with the band’s usual indie rock, an aspect of the production praised by critics.
“We Fell In Love In October” – Girl In Red
Another young love anthem, “We Fell In Love In October” describes… well, exactly that. The two young protagonists sit smoking on the roof together and admiring the view when they start to realise their feelings for each other. As the relationship progresses, Girl In Red retains a love for fall because it always reminds her of where things began. It’s a simple but sweet track that went silver in the UK and platinum in the US.
“Autumnsong” – Manic Street Preachers
This ode to fall from Manic Street Preachers is full of images about being young, a little melancholy, and ready for a change. The song could be referencing a general autumnal feeling, but some people have speculated that the track is about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, a condition in which a person’s mood is significantly affected by the time of year.
People have wondered if the song is about the feeling of sadness creeping in as autumn starts and the act of looking ahead to warmer months.
Manic Street Preachers haven’t commented on the meaning of the song, but James Dean Bradfield has said that the opening guitar riff is inspired by the work of Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who is one of Bradfield’s main influences.
“Autumn Serenade” – John Coltrane, Johnny Hartman
Hartman fondly recalls a fall love affair in this track from his collaborative 1963 record with saxophonist Coltrane. Crooning lyrics full of autumn imagery, he says that the memory of those nights will always be fresh in his mind even many years later.
“Autumn Serenade” comes from the album John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, and was one of six tracks that the two recorded together. In 2013 the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
“Autumn Love” – Tyson Motsenbocker
Motsenbocker is in “an autumn love” so great that he even feels the need to talk to fallen leaves about it. After waiting a long time to be together with his lover again, he’s content to just cosy up and appreciate what they’re both feeling. Over a happy strummed guitar, he tells the listener that he knows he sees a future and is excited for the relationship to keep developing. It’s a lovely sentimental track to play for your partner in the fall.
“Autumn” – Paolo Nutini
Nutini dedicates this heart-breaking piano ballad to his grandfather, who passed when Nutini was twelve. He’s said in interviews that his grandfather was the one who introduced him to music and that the two of them were close.
The track describes a fall day in which Nutini sees his grandfather crying and isn’t sure how to respond. As he grows up, he can always hear his grandfather comforting him in times of deep emotion.
“Gone Till November” – Wyclef Jean, New York Philharmonic
Jean raps about being a free spirit in “Gone Till November” and wonders why the women in his life always seem so upset that he frequently disappears until the fall. Due to his music career he can’t stick around and be a stable figure in anyone’s life, something that he hopes his loved ones accept about him.
The song also had a pop remix, which featured R. Kelly and Canibus with backing vocals from Destiny’s Child. The music video for the remix also had appearances from Canibus and Destiny’s Child, as well as a cameo from Bob Dylan.
“Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” – The White Stripes
Lead vocalist Jack White sings about a confusing phase of a relationship, backdropped by a not-so-poetic description of a fall. He expresses a lot of fear about what his life will be like without his girlfriend and laments the idea of coming home to have “no one to wrap my arms around”, encapsulating the loneliness many people feel as the weather turns colder.
The music video was directed by The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry and shows this fear playing out, with White coming back to a trashed apartment and then flashing back to the destruction of the apartment and the breakdown of his relationship.
It is clear from these songs about fall alone that everyone has a different opinion about the season. Some people are sad that the sunshine is coming to an end, while others welcome the change and the colors that come with it.
Some artists use fall as a metaphor to make another point, while others speak literally of the changes in nature during the new season. Regardless of a musical artist’s personal feelings, the music inspired by autumn will always be beautiful to listen to.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.