As temperatures start cooling down a bit, with the kids back in school and the days growing shorter, it’s autumn once again.
Autumn is often considered the most-beautiful and melancholic season of the year, and some popular and familiar songs reflect those notions. Throughout the years, musicians and recording artists have popularized some classic songs regarding the changing seasons, and at this time of year, some great songs of autumn come to mind.
A listing of classic autumn songs could prove to be extremely extensive, but this article attempts to list 10 of the season-related recordings that have made substantial impact on the national pop music charts prior to 1980. Even though, in many cases, the listed tunes have been covered by dozens of recording artists, only one popular version of each song is included.
Songs such as “See You In September” (by The Tempos, No. 23 in 1959, and The Happenings, No. 3 in 1966) and “It Might As Well Rain Until September” (by Carole King, No, 22 in 1962) are not included because, although they refer to autumn, the lyrics clearly indicate an earlier time frame and what may be expected later with the advent of the fall season.
Here are 10 of the notable autumn-related songs to have made impact on national pop music charts, and to listen to any of them, simply click on the title.
- “AUTUMN LEAVES” (Roger Williams, 1955): As the only piano instrumental to reach the top of Billboard Magazine’s pop music charts, this record sold more than 2 million copies. Many other vocal and instrumental versions of this song have been recorded over the years.
- “SEPTEMBER” (Earth, Wind And Fire, 1978): This song — written by Allee Willis, along with group members Maurice White and Al McKay — proved to be one of the biggest autumn-themed oldies music selections, climbing to No. 8 on the Billboard listings.
- “SUMMER’S GONE” (Paul Anka, 1960): One of the biggest teen idols of the late ’50s, the Canadian teen-ager was only 15 when he had a No. 1 song (“Diana”) in 1957, and he was only 19 when he took this record to No. 11 nationally. This was one of 32 Top 40 hits for the longtime singer, songwriter and music entrepreneur.
- “AUTUMN OF MY LIFE” (Bobby Goldsboro, 1973): Although the lyrics aren’t linked specifically to the autumn season, they reminisce about lifetime love, with the use of seasons as a metaphor, along with implications that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. And the singer-songwriter from Dothan, Ala., does a fine job of delivering that message on a record that charted at No. 19 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Canada.
- “SEPTEMBER IN THE RAIN” (Dinah Washington, 1961): One of the most-popular black female artists of the ’50s, this was her final major hit, as it reached No. 23 on the Billboard pop charts. And of course, dozens of artists — including a No. 1 rendition by Guy Lombardo in 1937, when the song was composed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin — have recorded it over the years.
- “AUTUMN IN NEW YORK” (Frank Sinatra, 1949): This song was composed for the 1934 Broadway musical “Thumbs Up!”, and whereas many versions have been issued, the Sinatra recording, which reached No. 27 nationally, is among the most-popular versions.
- “THE AUTUMN WALTZ” (Tony Bennett, 1956): Composed by Cy Coleman with lyrics by Bob Hilliard, this recording is the most-popular rendition, as it hit No. 41 on the Billboard pop charts and No. 18 on the national Disk Jockey chart.
- “SHINE ON HARVEST MOON” (The Four Aces, 1955): Introduced in the “Ziegfeld Follies Of 1908”, this well-known tune reached No. 45 on the Cash Box Magazine’s pop charts as the flip side of the Pennsylvania quartet’s No. 1 hit “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing.”
- “SEPTEMBER SONG” (Jimmy Durante, 1963): This recording, which peaked at No. 51 on Billboard, proved that the longtime pianist, actor and comedian could actually carry a tune. “The Schnozzola’s” rendition is one of the most-familiar and recognized versions of this standard.
- “THE LAST LEAF” (The Cascades, 1963): Coming off their million-selling “Rhythm Of The Rain”, this San Diego group had a good autumnal follow-up with a melancholy message.