Graphic by: Maya Palavali
Autumn has finally come; the leaves falling in multi-colored heaps, the air a perfect crisp and the sweater season has arrived.
Well… for Texans, it is not quite there yet.
Walking to classes still seems like swimming in humidity and the rain does not help the atmosphere. It does not feel like the typical fall season we are accustomed to.
Though I am disappointed, there are other ways to get in the autumn spirit. Being excited about pumpkin spice, decorating your dorm door, wearing spooky jewelry– anything to get into character.
For me, I turn to music. Music has always been important to me and I know the perfect way to get back into the groove was to make the perfect fall season playlist. Here are some of my choices and why– you can find the entire playlist on Spotify.
Waiting Room by Phoebe Bridgers
“Waiting Room” is one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s the epitome of the eventual human heartbreak. I feel as though it represents the final leaf falling from a tree– the repeating lyric ‘know it’s for the better’ is a tribute to the end of the tree’s vibrant life.
Even though the lyrics are devastating, there is also a sense of acceptance and finality. Fall is a time of change, a time that calls for better resilience for greater issues. “Waiting Room” transitions from our refusal to admit to embracing the change of the season.
October Passed Me By by girl in red
Anyone who listens to girl in red (and let’s admit it, most of us have at some point) knows she’s the embodiment of fall, especially the romantic aspect. Though many associate “we fell in love in october” as the autumn song, I contest the notion with its polar opposite: “October Passed Me By.”
The song is one of regret with a tinge of nostalgia. It remembers the path, both the good and the bad. The reason why “October Passed Me By” is my go-to girl in red song is because of how real it is. It speaks to anyone who has lost someone to the test of time. It’s the universal pain of loss.
Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift (feat. Ed Sheeran)
In late elementary school, my favorite after-school activity was watching music videos of songs I was interested in at the time. One that stands out even now is “Everything Has Changed” both for the video and music itself.
The song is the definition of the healthy version of ‘love at first sight.’ Swift’s voice paired with Sheeran’s makes the lyrics have a rich, more intimate feeling, making it my favorite duet so far. There are those book tropes that I feel are encompassed with this beautiful song– even at a young age, I was able to understand the fact.
I Wanna Be Yours by Artic Monkeys
I was introduced to the Arctic Monkeys in early high school, over a decade after the band was created. Even though I am a newer fan, the song still means as much to me.
I associate “I Wanna Be Yours” with autumn because of the group of friends who introduced me to it during quarantine; it is something I think about when I find the positive parts of that time in my life. The crooning voice creates an alluring aura, drawing the listener in as the instrumentals soothe their nerves.
The Night We Met by Lord Huron
“The Night We Met” has an unmistakably melancholic feel, bringing out the emotional side of the music industry. In the song, Lord Huron describes a longing for the specific time he met a certain individual. As he reminisces about that night, he desperately wants to go back and stay in those moments.
The absence of the person Huron is addressing has left him empty, searching for another trail. In my mind, this song takes place on the winding path in a forest of leafless trees– a mark of autumn.
tolerate it by Taylor Swift
Swift’s ‘evermore’ album is characterized by her flannel-clothed back with a complicated braid, surrounded by graying trees. Her song “tolerate it” gives the album cover emotional depth and explains the choices down to the drab foliage.
In the song, Swift speaks to an older lover, expressing her feelings of invalidation and worthlessness. She compares herself to a child wanting, asking for more and more; in reality, all she is asking for is love. Autumn is a season when couples tend to get together (also known as ‘cuffing season’), making the song have a contradictory tone compared to what happens to young adults.
Trick of the Moon by Eloise
Opposite to most songs about love, Eloise’s “Trick of the Moon” details her emotional maturity as she realizes her lack of need for her romantic partner. The song title is indicative of what follows– a tale of realization, one of being enlightened to the distortions she had previously experienced about love.
Though the song does acknowledge the complicated process of healing, the lyrics ultimately tell a story of self-growth. Though autumn may not be a time of growth, Eloise’s voice provides a calming tune that can easily be used to fall asleep on cold nights.
If I’m Being Honest by dodie
This music artist is one of the only ones I found purely on my own, something I am a little proud of. England-born singer and songwriter dodie is a completely underrated artist, someone whose lyrics have a unique feel by the informality of it all.
“If I’m Being Honest” has a vulnerable tone, one of hope and genuine longing. The lyrics ask an individual to love dodie the same way she adores them, a sign of her sensitivity. She expresses her already smitten feelings and asks a daring question “Could you love this?/ Will this one be right?”
The usually unspoken thought in most people’s minds is something she has the courage to tell aloud. “If I’m Being Honest” expresses a sense of last-minute vulnerability which can only be achieved in the moments before the harsh winter.
Halloween by Noah Kahan
“Halloween” by Noah Kahan is not about the kid-friendly holiday, contrary to the song title. The song is one about the process of untangling oneself from a person from the past. Essentially, the lyrics are about the past doing the haunting.
Kahan talks about his intentions to leave home and his old life behind. The reason why he references the festive celebration is because of its spooky nature. Kahan explained, “It’s not Halloween, but the ghost you’re dressed up as sure knows how to haunt.”
Kahan’s female ex-companion brings his emotions to a boiling point, which he expresses with a southern twang. Kahan’s folk roots can only be paired with the colorful crunch of autumn leaves and bright pumpkins in my mind.
Bags- Recorded At Electric Lady Studios by Clairo
25-year-old indie artist Clairo is known for her target audience of young adult women, more specifically ones on the queer spectrum. Her song “Sofia” was her claim to fame, creating her fan base.
However, “Bags” can relate to anyone, regardless of how they identify. Clairo communicates her fear of her lover leaving her before the right time as she waits for a way to express her deep-seated affection. Along with having her emotions on display, Clairo incorporates physical imagery from their lives, something that creates a personal attachment to the singer and the subject of the song. The reason why I chose the rerecording at the specific studio was because of the more laid-back feel I associate with the casual talk of afternoon autumn conversations.
Promise by Laufey
Icelandic singer-songwriter Laufey was propelled to fame as recently as the 2020s. I first heard of her songs in the background of TikTok videos and did not think much of her until I kept on hearing her soft voice over and over on my feed.
I finally clicked on her “Promise” and was thankful for my phone knowing me, despite its future ramifications. Her song is about trying to get over someone and the eventual failure to do so for some people.
Laufey describes how she “didn’t call (them) for 16 long days” and how she should “get a cigarette for so much restraint.” Being able to stay away from someone you love can be hard, especially in a season of love and romantic affection.
1950 by King Princess
Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter Mikaela Straus, known by their stage name King Princess, changed my life. When I was questioning and unsure of who I was, King Princess helped ground me.
“1950” describes a pure romantic adoration I had previously never heard of. It expresses the desire to make their lover happy, repeating the sentiment they will wait for them. The idea of someone waiting for me is something I still think of to this day. I heard “1950” in the fall and so I associate the tune with the season.
Kyoto by Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers is known for the serious nature of her works, which is exactly what is happening in “Kyoto.” Her song not only talks about abstract feelings but details an actual day in the town.
Her imagery of her as she “Looked around at the 7-Eleven,” makes the song seem relatable in a way. She describes her anger with an individual, expressing her hardened dislike for the shortcomings they have. Their sobriety seems to be a reason for her reaction, which forces the audience to confront the difficult topic of alcoholism. We can infer the song is set in autumn because of the “Scorpio skies” she mentions towards the end of the lyrics.
Not Strong Enough by boygenius
A fact I was not aware of before now was that boygenius, a band consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker first started in 2018 before taking a hiatus until 2023. “Not Strong Enough” is the reason I took the effort to find this out.
In full transparency, I found the song from TikTok rather than being a long-time fan. However, it does not make the song any less poignant. The lyrics have a sense of stagnancy because of the feeling of inadequacy.
The singers all sing about not having the right traits to be an individual’s ‘man’ in a romantic aspect. The repetition of “Always an angel, never a god” hits the continuous feeling of ‘other’ home. Autumn is a time of change, but sometimes there is nothing you can do to alter yourself.
From The Dining Table by Harry Styles
Former “One Direction” member Harry Styles is known for his flashy pop songs about love and fame. Though those songs are good, my favorite song of his is “From The Dining Table.”
When I first heard the song, I was shocked it was created by an artist characterized by his bubbly nature. There is no other song that can compare to the depth of emotional resignation about a specific person. Styles puts forth the hope of getting an apology for past actions, making the song part of an ongoing story. The feebleness of his voice reminds me of the discarded leaves that are taken from their homes during the season.
That Funny Feeling by Bo Burnham
“That Funny Feeling” is a part of Bo Burnham’s album he published after his Netflix special during the pandemic ‘Inside.’ He has always been my favorite comedian, so watching his Netflix documentary was monumental. The documentary came out in 2021, the peak time of collective burnout from quarantine.
Burnham is seemingly trapped in his home with every scene being inside (hence, the title). His songs have mainly a comedic tone, with lyrics such as “White Woman’s Instagram.” However, the song I chose is surprisingly deep, even for an intelligent artist like Burnham.
He details the effects of being alone, watching life move on from the outside. His song can be associated with seasonal affective disorder. As the disorder is called, SAD comes with the change of weather from sunny summer to autumn.