Autumn Anthems in Blacksburg
Blacksburg is the epitome of fall. The small town, colorful foliage, everyone wearing sweaters and drinking chai and hot lattes: it doesn’t get more fall than this. College students are constantly walking around campus listening to music, on AirPods, headphones, or even speakers on some occasions. Whatever the occasion, fall brings out a special feeling that requires a specific playlist for everyone during the fall time. That fall feeling can be experienced through a plethora of genres for different people, but I want to highlight some of the music that makes me feel like I’m in a coming-of-age movie or the fall scenes in When Harry Met Sally, as well as share some favorites from Tech students.
Being on such a historic campus with stunning architecture can often feel like walking around New York City. Autumn in NYC means jazz. The smooth voices of Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald, or instrumentation from John Coltrane always exhibit the warmness and emotion that we feel during the new season. Some of the most jazz-feeling songs and albums are tailored for this time of year, such as “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday, or “Tis Autumn” by Nat King Cole. Traditional jazz will always emulate the human condition during the fall time.
The Granola aesthetic will always have a chokehold on people during the fall time. Textured instrumentation combined with passionate vocals and meaningful lyrics are a perfect fit for the sense of comfort and change we all experience this time of year. Folk-pop groups such as the Fleet Foxes, Hozier, and the Head and the Heart are essential comfort artists. Alex, a current freshman, describes his folk favorite. “I think By and By by Caamp is the best fall album. Several songs on that album are a must for walking around campus while the leaves are changing, or sipping on a warm hot cocoa. My favorite song on the album is “Keep the Blues Away” because it just feels so folky and cozy.” Similarly, another Tech student, Emma Duncan, shares an interest in folk, with her go-to album being the Lumineers. She says “To me, Babel by Mumford and Sons gives fall. This season is full of comfort, with the changing leaves and warm soup, and this album is very nostalgic for me, so it also makes me feel cozy. Out of all of the songs, “Reminder” is my favorite to listen to during the fall because it’s simple and sweet.” The juxtaposition of often-melancholy lyrics and upbeat compositions connects with us on a deeper emotional level, fulfilling our craving for connection and relatability. I feel this way about much of Bon Iver’s music. His delicate vocals touch on my heartstrings, especially in songs like “Perth” and “Hey Ma.” He has this very special ability to tell a full story in a single song, and the production only further pushes these feelings onto the listener, while unpacking in the lyrics.
In contrast to warm fuzzy folk music, the transition from fall to winter can be dark and melancholy. The sky gets darker earlier, and leaves fall off trees, leaving them devoid of color or personality. We can often find comfort in the darkness, and want our music to match that ambiance.
Student Ava Garrison says, “Unplugged by Alice in Chains is the album that reminds me of fall. I think that this album reminds me of fall because it has some of Alice in Chains’ best songs like “Over Now,” “Sludge Factory,” and “The Killer is Me.” These all feel like fall time because they remind me of sitting in the cold and watching the leaves fall. My favorite song on the album is “Over Now,” and this is an album I find myself often listening to because it feels relatable and makes me feel comfortable.”
The whole experience of autumn represents a whole spectrum of feelings, going from light to dark, colorful to achromatic, and warm to frigid. Music is what helps us to process these transitions. Whether you want to hear the light vocals and piano of jazz or the dark atmospheres of Alice and Chains, music can match our vehemence about the changes of life.