on October 1, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on A meditation on the beginning of autumn

A meditation on the beginning of autumn

Driving to and from work every day the past couple of weeks has been a daily demonstration of why autumn is Colorado’s best season — blue skies, early dustings of snow on the higher mountains, and a rippling palette of green, yellow, orange and red.

With the right music, these sights just sing.

The transition from summer to autumn heralds some big stylistic changes for me. I trade all the brashness of summer sounds for bittersweet acoustic guitars, pianos and vocal harmonies. Whereas summer is about brightness — from big horn lines to danceable synths and rhythms — autumn is more introspective and quiet.

This embracing of melancholy seems fitting to me, since autumn is often such a swift season in our state. It has barely arrived before branches are bare and we’re shoveling snow. I have so many memories of Halloweens spoiled by the year’s first snowstorm.

Of course, one of the most common complaints about the summer-to-fall transition is the cooling temperatures. It means winter is just around the corner, and you can’t go outside in anything less than jeans, boots and a sweater. But these cooler temperatures and gray days are why the warmth and intimacy of an acoustic guitar is so welcome.

Records made by a small group of people in a room, notes you can actually hear being plucked always sound more like home. I can’t imagine a better soundtrack to the season than Nick Drake or Fleet Foxes’ staggeringly pretty approaches to folk music. They’re like warm musical blankets.

It’s easy to get gloomy this time of year, especially with the aforementioned weather and the desolate-looking scenery. Add in longer nights, and it’s understandable why some people get seasonal affective disorder around autumn.

Many of us spend much time and money trying to avoid sadness, which, let’s be honest, is an impossible task. Autumn shows us the incredible beauty and regenerative nature of sorrow. The right soundtrack does the same thing.

I have always loved sad songs more than any other — I find solace in music that embraces life’s somber moments. Put on songs like Bob Dylan’s “If You See Her, Say Hello,” or Zac Brown Band’s “Cold Weather,” and really snuggle into the sadness. There’s a lot of beauty to be heard.

Music certainly won’t cure you from any melancholy, but it’s the best way I know to get through it — and even, maybe, benefit from those feelings.

So, as you’re putting away your summer clothes, my advice is to do the same for your summer music. Pull out what makes you feel warm and comfortable — something that feels lived in and welcoming. It will have to last you through winter.

Clarke Reader’s column on how music connects to our lives appears every other week. A community editor with Colorado Community Media, he is more than ready for an autumn of sad songs. Check out his music blog at calmacil20.blogspot.com. And share your favorite autumn music at creader@coloradocommunitymedia.com.


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