For some, Fall is a time of great beauty and nostalgia, a boon for the sartorialist who can finally break out favorite jackets and scarves. Others are less thrilled, perhaps victims of some primal human apprehension about the coming of winter. One thing is certain, it’s a season of greater introspection after the wanton abuses of summer. It’s also a great time for music as all the vapid pop hits of the sweltering months fade out and people give more airplay to music with a bit more depth.
Digging through my records for Halloween weekend, I decided it was time for the ultimate Fall playlist — and the following list is a distillation of that. I dispensed with most of werewolf tunes and tried to focus in on that hazy Autumnal groove, with a touch of foreboding. Consider it a list of costume ideas as well, I’ve already seen one kid rolling around as Michael Jackson though.
Disclaimer: I limited this to only vinyl, CD’s, or mp3’s that I own, and you can add The Clientele as runner up to any of the following:
10. Michael Jackson
“Thriller” from the album, “Thriller”
The King of Pop is not all about Fall, and Fall’s not only about Halloween, but it punctuates the season, a last hurrah before the long grey chill. And Halloween weekend without “Thriller” is like Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes. Really, who does that? Here’s to zombie dancing in loafers.
“Kitchenette” from the album, “Grinderman2”
I keep hanging around your kitchenette and I’m gonna get a pot to cook you in. I stick my fingers in your biscuit jar and crush all your gingerbread men. Thank the spirits for Nick Cave.
8. The Cure
“Lullaby” from the album, Disintegration
The Cure is a marvelous combination of Autumnal blues and black fingernail polish. I know it’s unfair, but it always seems like goth kids are stuck in some twilight hour, celebrating Halloween, every day of the year.
7. Elliot Smith
“2:45 AM” from the album, “Either/Or”
Sometimes you come to associate a musician with a season simply because that’s when you first heard him. You bought “Either/Or” as the colors were changing and you felt like you were changing too, then that album was forever linked to that time. Every October after that you find yourself reaching for the record after having not played it for a year. This seems to be what happened with a great many people and at least one album by Mr. Elliott Smith.
6. The Fall
“Frightened” from the album, “Live At the Witch Trials”
Like a punk James Brown on a huge quantity of downers, Mark E. Smith grabs a dope hook and just clings to it until the stage collapses beneath him. It’s just not just the name of the band, these guys capture some kind of primal foreboding feeling about Fall and amplify it, repeatedly.
“Hell Is Around The Corner” from the album, “Maxinquaye”
As Fall bridges Summer and Winter, so Tricky manages to bridge pop with hip hop. He also does it with immense style. You could start shouting about Portishead here but this is better, sexier. It’s apples, crisper.
4. Tubeway Army
“My Shadow In Vain” from the album “Tubeway Army”
Most people think of the moog pop hit, “Cars,” when they think of Gary Numan, but I think of the terrorizing bass, drums and full blown guitars of his earlier incarnation. Few men look as good in white face paint with blue lipstick as late 70’s Numan.
3. Dead Man’s Bones
“Lose Your Soul” from the album, “Dead Man’s Bones”
Actor Ryan Gosling wrote this record with his friend Zach Shields after exploring a shared fascination with ghosts and Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion.” What began as a theatrical project using instruments that they’d never played before and liberal use of the Silverlake Conservatory Children’s Choir, turned into a band with magnificent results.
2. Simon & Garfunkel
“The Sound of Silence” from the album, “Sounds of Silence”
If Fall is a time of introspection and melancholy contemplation, I can think of few more appropriate groups than Simon & Garfunkel to provide it’s soundtrack. Because a vision softly creeping, Left its seeds while I was sleeping, And the vision that was planted in my brain; Still remains.
1. Tom Waits
“Frank’s Wild Years” from the album, “Swordfishtrombones”
One night Frank was on his way home from work, stopped at the liquor store, picked up a couple of Mickey’s Big Mouth’s. Drank ’em in the car on his way to the Shell station; he got a gallon of gas in a can. Drove home, doused everything in the house, torched it….
Parked across the street laughing, watching it burn, all Halloween orange and chimney red.
Waits just puts me in a jolly mood to drink bourbon and scare children.