It may be that I’m ever-so-slightly missing the feel and intensity of a Southern Ontario Autumn (though I have to admit that Victoria, BC has far more of the beauty of Fall than I was led to believe).  Whatever the actual reasons, I’m feeling compelled to offer you my top album picks for my (imaginary) Autumn Soundtrack.  I suppose that many of these choices will date me.  I suppose that the notion of the ‘album’ in an age of itunes single-song-purchases and streaming radio dates me even more!  Such is the life of an almost 40 year-old!

Without further stalling, here’s the list:

1. Neil Young’s Harvest – meshing swamp-rock and symphony, the sadness and hope in this 1972 masterpiece about the fragility of growing old really stirs the soul.  ‘Keeps me searchin’ for a heart of Gold’

2. K.D. Lang’s Hymns of The 49th Parallel – Amazing covers of Canadian classics ranging from Cohen to Cockburn – an amazing voice. Perfectly picked songs from the populist to the more obscure.

3. U2’s October – Dripping with the messy ache of the then-recent death of Bono’s mother and deeply angst-y end-time Christian themes, this early U2 work is a sonic soundtrack for Autumn – profoundly mature both musically and lyrically – especially when one considers it was penned by a group of 19 year-olds – and that most of the lyrics were improvised at the microphone.

4. The Cure’s Disintegration – I’m less and less interested in whiney-white-boy British pop these days than when I was 14 – but the Cure’s 1987 work offers an amazingly dense, layered, bleakness about the sadder side of relationships.  Means as much to me now as when it came out and I actually was still 14!

5. EmmyLou Harris’ Wrecking Ball – A alt-folky-country version of what The Cure does with Disintegration – positively infected by producer Daniel Lanois’ atmospheric touches (and guest appearances by folks from U2, Neil Young don’t hurt either).  Includes a cover of my favorite Dylan song ‘Every Grain of Sand’ (though Dylan’s versions are still better than hers!)

6. Ambient Music – including artists such as Brian Eno, Beaumont Hannont & Ulrich Schnauss.  I used to be an ambient electronic musician – and much of the best of ambient electronic music truly invokes the ‘joyful death’ of Fall for me. Perhaps it’s unfair to put a whole genre on this list, but so be it!  Check out Schnauss’ Far Away Trains Passing By or Eno’s Ambient Music 1 or 4 for some outstanding examples.  Or listen to some streaming ambient music on either SOMA FM’s Groove Salad or CBC’s streaming radio Ambient Lounge Channel – perhaps as you go for a leaf-crunching walk.

7. Bruce Cockburn’s Humans- An honest, hope-filled and heartbreaking chronicle about the breakup of Bruce’s first marriage with the backdrop of all of society’s woes!  Very occasionally delves into the questionable and dated arrangements that mar some of Bruce’s mid-80’s works, but overall a masterpiece of songwriting and one of Bruce’s best works.  Humans ultimately works as a solid bridge between the 70’s bearded-Christian-nature-mystic and 80’s leather-jacket-wearing angry-Christian-politico with a rocket launcher in hand!

8. Alexi Murdoch’s Time Without Consequences – I first heard “Orange Sky” on the soundtrack to Away We Go and was instantly captivated.  All of Scottish-born Murdoch’s songs are simple, stripped back and hauntingly beautiful odes to the possibilities of the human soul.  “in your love my salvation lies” – ahhh!

9. Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony #3.- I’m a huge fan of (post)modern, minimalist classical music.  I had to debate for this spot on the list between Gorecki, modern master Arvo Part, ancient choral works by Byrd or Palestrina and even Vivaldi’s Autumn Autumn season!  At the end of the day, Gorecki’s3rd Symphony, also known as “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” is a favorite and truly-sorrowful classic about the horrors of war.

10. The Swell Season’s Strict Joy – Spin Mag said:”If Glen Hansard’s and Marketa Irglova’s roles in the hit Irish indie film Once unintentionally wove the tale of their real-life falling in love, their second album as the Swell Season weaves the story of their falling out of it.”  Great music too. ‘Nuff Said.

As I write this – I feel like I could go on and on.  I’m thinking of some of Van Morrison’s 70’s works, several other U2 works (Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree) or Cockburn Albums (In the Falling Dark? Sunwheel Dance?).  I’ve only just started to touch on music that invokes the feeling of Autumn.

What are your suggestions, thoughts, ideas, favorites?

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