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This past summer I had a difficult time finding new music that pulled me in. I kept reverting back to the same tired playlists, the same catchy beats that had lost their freshness with repeated listening. But this October, my musical repertoire was reinvigorated with the discovery (or in some cases, the return) of several different songs, albums, and artists.

  1. “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today” by Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

I was introduced to artists Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, “On Being” with host Krista Tippet. This song has its origins as an old Christian hymn by Charles Albert Tindley. It was first recorded by Washington Philips in 1928. I was already familiar with Philips’ beautiful version when I learned about Fleck and Washburn, so I was excited when I discovered that they had recorded another rendition of it. The song is thoughtful and serene. It is also worth giving their episode of On Being: “Truth, Beauty, Banjo” a listen to hear Fleck and Washburn talk about their own musical journeys.

  1. “5748 Km” by Lisa Le Blanc

This song is both wonderfully wistful and achingly real. For me, it encompasses the romance of Autumn. I listen to it and imagine what the end of the year—the approaching rains, the floating red leaves, the reflections and wishes—could mean. I think of the distance between myself and those for whom I harbor feelings both sweet and unsure. For the minutes that I am listening to this song, I let myself consider falling in love. Something in me gives way, and it feels painfully necessary. 

  1. “Chasing Pirates” by Norah Jones

I sometimes forget about Norah Jones, but when I return to her music I’m reminded that it’s just not Autumn without her. Norah’s gentle jazz sweeps me up. It’s an embrace every time: the equivalent of a fireside, sweater-clad evening, but always with a twinge of excitement underneath. Her music is comfortable, but there’s also something seductive about it. This song (while it’s no “Come Away With Me”), evokes the sensation of journeying through something soft and warm, invited into something a little bit less familiar. 

  1. “Leaving Las Vegas” by Sheryl Crow

This song is my ode to the remnants of summer. While “Chasing Pirates” carries me through the crisp chill of October mornings, “Leaving Las Vegas” is the soundtrack to my sun-warmed afternoon drives. “Leaving Las Vegas” is as much a goodbye to summer as it is a refusal to let it leave, a desperate fumble for fleeing strands of sunlight. 

  1. “Share Your Love with Me” by Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is for every season, and Autumn is no exception. When I listen to “Share Your Love With Me”, I want to be folded up inside the music. I want to find the warm places where the notes dip and surge, and to linger there. 

  1. “(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” by Aretha Franklin

Because one just isn’t enough…my soundtrack to Autumn concludes with one more song from Aretha Franklin. This song is all joy and thrill. It hits the sweet spot between wanting and having, between passion and easy repose. I want to spend rainy evenings dancing to it in the living room with my head thrown back, one hand in the air and a glass of apple cider in the other. It is both a celebration and a confession.

In between each song, there is the music intrinsic to this season: the crunching of leaves, the rain against our windows, the birds on sunny mornings. Now (and perhaps always) is a time to observe and to eavesdrop on the sounds that surround us. I wish you all happy listening this fall.

Grace is a junior at Kenyon College. Grace enjoys hiking, camping, road trips, and spending time in nature. Other things that hold a special place in Grace's heart include (in no particular order) crosswords & Pangram word puzzles, Harry Potter, daffodils, Rilke's poetry, and podcasts.
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