Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Autumn Leaves

There is a jazz standard entitled "Autumn Leaves". Wikipedia says it was originally a French song, "Les Feuilles Mort", which translates, literally, into "The Dead Leaves". It was written in 1945 by Joseph Kosma with words by French poet Jacques Prevert. Somewhere in my volumes, I have a book of poetry by Jacques Prevert, a gift from the French teacher in college upon getting an "A" in the final exam my first year of French. She hoped it would inspire us to greater heights in the second year of the required two for our degree. Had she not been a rather strange teacher, it might have. I have no idea where the book is now but I've been itching to find it after hearing "Autumn Leaves" on the radio.

I know this song. It was one that my piano teacher had me learn when I was taking piano lessons. It's relatively easy to master and, unlike some other things she had me try, I got this one down rather quickly. It was fun to play and I learned the words to the song too. I remember being at the piano playing it when Dad walked into the room and started humming along. My dad couldn't carry a tune in a covered bucket but that didn't stop him from expressing himself in song. I remember cringing a bit as he missed the notes but I felt rather proud of myself for playing something he knew.

So, on Saturday, the familiar strains of the tune came out of my car radio as I headed for some overtime at work. This wasn't what I wanted to be doing on a golden Saturday morning, but if I didn't spend some time on this project, it would not be done by the Tuesday deadline. Would this be an instrumental version? There are some wonderful instrumental versions out there. Most of them take the song a bit fast. To me, it's a song about the end of the season and the ending of a relationship and should be performed slowly. The version I heard on Saturday was a vocal version. The female voice sang the song in the original French and it was clear she understood the song. At the end, the announcer said, "And that was Karrin Allyson singing 'Autumn Leaves' off her 'Collage' album."

Once I had a moment, I hit up Barnes and Noble.com to check this out. Karrin Allyson is not a new voice in jazz. I'm familiar with her. But, up to now, she's not been someone I've had to rush out to get. My opinion changed with her rendition of "Autumn Leaves". I need to add something of hers to my CD collection. As luck would have it, Carole needed me to put together the annual Christmas list. That album and two others were added to the list.

I've had the song stuck in my head intermittently with The Tannahill Weavers "Cam Ye by Athol" and Great Big Sea's "Captain Kidd", widely disparate music styles. As I sat on the deck on Sunday, the autumn leaves released their grip on the trees in the back yard and drifted to the ground or caught some air and tumbled into the neighbor's yard.

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold....
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands, I used to hold
Since you went away, the days grow long
And soon I'll hear ol' winter's song.
But I miss you most of all my darling,
When autumn leaves start to fall.

Beverage:  Rooibos tea


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