Every season has its associated food, clothes and activities. Pumpkin spice lattes, flannels and apple picking all bring fall to mind. Yet, my most fall-esque associations will always be Bon Iver, Noah Kahan’s Stick Season and Taylor Swift’s Evermore. Hopefully, this music will bring you the same autumnal joy it brings me.
I started listening to Iver during my senior year of high school in winter. It was mid-January, mid-Saturday-morning and a playlist — that I didn’t create — played in the background while I uploaded my AP Psychology vocabulary words onto Quizlet. His voice sounded peaceful, but the background music stuck with me the most. The mixture of instruments, guitar strumming and distinct melodies warmed me up on that cold, boring day.
If I began listening to Iver in the winter, why do I now associate him with the fall?
Everything about Iver feels autumnal. Autumn represents a hopeful time for me: the beginning of school, internships, cuffing season and joining new clubs. Fall is my new year; it’s a reset. And Iver’s music is hopeful. It brings along a peace that calms your surroundings. The instrumental blocks out the outside noise, and his words block out the internal monologue running through your head as you walk along the dead leaves on the ground.
Even the sad lyrics, the ones that make your heart go “OUCH!” are delivered with such a calming effect that you cannot help but feel at peace when listening. Autumn should bring you peace, the sort of peace that comes with new beginnings.
Kahan is the most obvious fall music artist. However, it’s his specific album Stick Season that really encompasses the fall feeling. The album cover and title force you to think of autumn. The mentioning of small towns contributes to that seasonal feeling. After all, everyone watches Gilmore Girls in the fall due to its small-town focus and sweater-wearing characters. His origin from Vermont and New Hampshire, states that are known for their pretty foliage and cold, crisp weather, also add to his fall association.
Yet, the meaning of each song and the album as a whole gives it the autumn vibe. Yes, Kahan’s voice and acoustic choices are rustic and folksy, but there’s more to them than just their sound.
Kahan sings about many emotions; however, he primarily goes back and forth between longing to change and leave and having this weight pull you back to where you came from, literally and metaphorically.
Autumn is that push and pull. It brings back the nostalgia of wanting to go back to a time you can never return to and the feeling of wanting to become better. In the fall, I helplessly reminisce on my childhood: leaf piles, Haverford Township Day and Linvilla Orchards trips. I rewatch Disney Halloween movies and make those pumpkin Pillsbury cookies. Autumn means hometown longing and the desire to regress to a simpler time. Yet, it also represents a time for change and the need to leave the past behind. Stick Season perfectly captures these mixed feelings. No other album has ever sung what I feel so clearly.
Another album, rather than an artist, that represents fall to me is Evermore. I know most people think Swift’s album Red has an autumnal vibe; they’re not wrong, but we are heavily neglecting Evermore. From the album cover to specific lyrics, Evermore should be a contender for the fall album.
Like Kahan’s album, throughout Evermore, Swift sings about stagnancy and moving on, the autumn theme I keep returning to. The songs “right where you left me” and “it’s time to go” showcase these conflicting emotions through their titles and lyrics; the songs even follow each other in the album order.
In her other songs, Swift also focuses on the changes in relationships. In “champagne problems,“ Swift sings about someone who cannot agree to marry their partner, and in “cowboy like me,“ Swift sings about someone who quits their player ways when they fall in love. Though both songs are up for interpretation as to what happens in these relationships, no one can argue that a change occurs. Autumn signifies change and, more famously, cuffing season. It’s a time when everyone seems to be getting into relationships for the upcoming holidays or breaking up over holiday breaks. Either way, dynamics are changing. Evermore captures those shifts.
Everyone agrees that there are specific songs for specific times. After all, I’m not going to listen to Phoebe Bridgers at a party. And it’s no different for the seasons. So, listen to Iver, Kahan and Swift this fall. It’ll make your walk through the autumn air to Brody Learning Commons much more enjoyable.