Archive for September 2nd, 2005

Autumn Miscellany

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, said Keats, and the voiceover for the Mr Kipling TV adverts. Summer in this part of the world has officially ended. If it is possible to have a favourite season, Autumn is mine, where the abrasive sunlight of July and August softens, and becomes socially acceptable to be pale again. If anyone had been giving out prizes last week, I would have won a grand slam for Whitest Man on The Beach, Whitest Man in Alicante Airport, and lastly, Whitest Man in Dublin Airport.

While there are loads of songs about summer, Does anyone know any decent songs about autumn? Two immediately spring to mind: Here Comes A Regular by The Replacements, and September Gurls by Big Star.

California Dreamin’s promising start, in the present tense, of ‘All the leaves are brown’ might lead one to believe that we are listening to a song set in autumn, but then John Phillips’s narrator changes tense and tells us that he/she ‘went for a walk/on a winter’s day.’*

What is the season, then? There is a sense of temporal dislocation. If the leaves are brown, then it must surely still be autumn, because in winter, the leaves have already fallen from the trees, with the exception of some species (e.g. beech). Unless, of course, the leaves are already on the ground. But if this were the case, there would be no need for the singer to tell us that they are brown at all, as nearly all fallen leaves are brown anyway.

There is a sense of displacement. The singer’s dream is that of feeling ‘safe and warm’ in Los Angeles, but we do not know where he is singing from.

* Just realised that in the original version, the narrator uses the past perfect ‘I’ve been for a walk’. Bobby Womack’s version changes this to the past simple ‘I went for a walk’. Oh well – it was a nice thought.

Anyway, happy birthday tomorrow to Keanu Reeves, Jimmy Connors and me.

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