We still have one week left of autumn.
Believe it or not, next week marks the first day of winter.
Until then, it's still technically fall, meaning it's still time to light your candles, put on your sweaters, and set the autumn mood with some good tunes. There's no better way to mark phases in time than a themed playlist. Below, we've compiled our 10 favorite songs to welcome in the best season of the year.
Yo La Tengo, “Autumn Sweater”
Much of Yo La Tengo's discography is perfectly suited for fall weather. But as its name suggests, "Autumn Sweater" is their most explicitly autumnal song, driven by a subtle electronic groove that evokes the comfort of slightly chillier weather. The song's lyrics pine for a romantic getaway, and it's easy to picture a secluded cabin or a beach house on a cloudy day. "We could slip away / Wouldn't that be better? / Me with nothing to say / And you in your autumn sweater," vocalist Ira Kaplan sings.
Neil Young, “Harvest Moon”
Few genres evoke the earthy ambience of fall like '70s folk rock. While Neil Young's album Harvest Moon was released in the early '90s, its sound harks back to the legendary songwriter's recordings after his departure from Crosby, Stills & Nash. Its title track, a tribute to Young's wife, is complete with a harmonica solo, slide guitar, and background vocals that are perfectly suited for campfire gatherings.
Fiona Apple, “Pale September”
As much as many of us embrace the arrival of fall, the season still carries the bittersweet feeling of saying goodbye to the salad days of summer until next year. Fiona Apple's "Pale September" posits the changing of the seasons alongside grief. Few lyrics are as quintessentially fall as "the autumn days swung soft around me like cotton on my skin."
Broadcast, “Echo’s Answer”
Before the untimely death of vocalist Trish Keenan in 2011, British group Broadcast earned themselves a cult following as a leading act in electronic pop. One of their first singles, "Echo's Answer," is a spare, synth-driven tune that serves as a fitting soundtrack for welcoming in a new season. "Oh, the wind will come, blow answer, echo's answer," Keenan coos, as if watching leaves turn brown across mountain ranges.
girl in red, “we fell in love in october”
We might still be in quarantine, but the temperature drops only mean one thing for some people: cuffing season. If we weren't still at risk of contracting a deadly virus, this time of year would normally be the time many folks set out to find a partner before the holidays roll around, so we can finally appease our families when they inevitably ask if we have a significant other. The music of young indie pop phenomenon girl in red is heavily associated with love, and her most popular song, "we fell in love in october," is a heartwarming tribute to autumnal flings: "We fell in love in October / That's why I love fall."
Fleet Foxes, “Blue Ridge Mountains”
If curling up in a sweater with a hot coffee or chai latte had a sound, that sound would probably be Fleet Foxes. The Seattle band's lush indie folk has solidified their status in the "cold weather music" canon, and "Blue Ridge Mountains"—a highlight from their 2008 self-titled debut album—feels especially autumnal. The sprawling production and acoustic guitars paint images of driving through its titular mountains, while the subject matter of missing one's sibling is a perfect predecessor to family reunions come Thanksgiving.
SZA, “Sweet November”
Whether it's her early material or her latest single, the mellow, R&B-infused pop of SZA is an appropriate companion to fall weather and activities. While the lyrics of "Sweet November" are decidedly morbid—they reference SZA's illness that she said nearly killed her—its jazzy drums and Marvin Gaye sample pair nicely with the smell of fresh-baked pumpkin bread.
Nina Simone, “One September Day”
Before Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong was begging us to let him sleep all September, jazz icon Nina Simone was wishing to relive a certain 24 hours that occurred in the same month. Though whirlwind romances are typically associated with summer, Simone's sweeping love song "One September Day" sounds like wandering in parks, holding hands with a special somebody as the leaves begin to turn brown.
Bon Iver, “Holocene”
Arguably no contemporary musician is as elusive as Justin Vernon, the leader of Bon Iver. On his Grammy-nominated single "Holocene," he reckons with finding his place in the world, feeling insignificant compared to the incomprehensible size of the universe. The song welcomes personal reflection, and echoes the strange comfort of realizing your existence is both unique and trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Local Natives, “Wide Eyes”
The beginning guitar notes and group background vocals of "Wide Eyes" echo like they're bouncing off a canyon in the mountains, with the sort of refreshing crispness that only autumn weather can bring. "All the men of faith and men of science had their questions / Could it ever be on earth as it is in heaven?" goes one of the track's most poignant lines, sparking your own contemplations as the season changes.
Taylor Swift, “cardigan”
Let's be real: Taylor Swift definitely scheduled the surprise-release of folklore with just enough time for all of us to get acquainted with the new songs by autumn, right? While the entire album recalls woodsy, autumnal scenery, the longing piano number "cardigan" feels most closely connected with the season. Especially if you're spending fall in New York City, Swift's depictions of "high heels on cobblestones" and twirling under streetlights feel especially scenic.