It’s time to listen to the world’s most autumnal band


Which would be, of course, The, um… Band.

Yeah, I know, I know — according to Brad, every season is the right season to listen to The Band. That’s true, and evidently I’m not the only one to think so. See the banner image that you can find on Peter Hamby’s Twitter feed, season after season:


Well played, Mr. Hamby.

Back to my point, I ask you: Doesn’t that photo look like autumn? And doesn’t this one and this one and this one? And not just because they always look like that’s the season they’re dressed for — which I consider the ultimate cool look, possibly because fall is my favorite season. (Broke out my rumpled vaguely dusty-green corduroy jacket last week, because it’s finally the season to dress like you’re in The Band!)

It’s supremely fitting that their greatest item, the eponymous one, is brown, with black-and-white photos. When I listen to their music, I picture brown, gray, black, and muted orange. They are far more like an old, scuffed brown shoe than, say, George Harrison was.

Because it’s not just a look — it’s a sound. Starting with their most autumnal song of all…

ARRGGGHHH! The whole point of writing this post was to share this awesome video I found, and long ago favorited, of The Band playing “King Harvest” in the studio, a version I liked even better than the one on the album, and now when I click on it it says, “This video contains content from Eagle Rock. It is not available in your country,” and then adds, in much smaller type, “Sorry about that..”

Ya know, there’s just one thing I expect from the internet… OK, there are a lot of things that I expect from the internet, but this one is very near the top of this list… and it is that stuff doesn’t go away! It’s always there to look at whenever you want it. It’s handy! It’s convenient! It’s at your fingertips! Always!

So I really, really hate it when something like this happens.


OK, well, the album version will have to do.

Anyway, here are the top five most autumnal songs by the most autumnal of bands, to give you a nice, crunchy, brown, orange and black soundtrack for the season:

  1. King Harvest — Yeah, partly because of the title, but listen to it! “Dry summer, then comes fall/ Which I depend on most of all…” And not just the words, but the tone… If Richard Manuel doesn’t sound like a man who’s reached the autumn of his life, I don’t know who does. He’s a man defined by the seasons who is adjusting to new realities and trying to put the best face on it he can. And Garth Hudson on the Lowrey organ — doesn’t it sound like the perfect accompaniment to the words, “Scarecrow and a yellow moon/ And pretty soon a carnival on the edge of town?”
  2. The Unfaithful Servant — After that servant has said goodbye to that country home, the lady he has left looks out on a landscape that is dominated by a gray sky with low clouds. Most of the leaves are on the ground now and it’s recently rained, dampening the carpet of leaves that’s turning from brown to black as they decompose. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.
  3. Long Black Veil — OK, this one is late fall, bordering on winter, but still just barely autumn. Say, late November. I’m fairly certain there are few leaves on the trees as “she walks  these hills” and “the cold wind moans.”
  4. The Weight — I’ll admit this is less autumnal than the others. I picture it being sort of hot and dusty as our humble narrator pulls into Nazareth, feeling about half-past dead. But I wanted an excuse to link you to the great live version at Woodstock in 1969. At least that one hasn’t gone away… “Crazy Chester followed me, and he caught me in the fog…”
  5. The Rumor — OK, the truth is, I could have picked almost any five songs by The Band and they would all have fit the category. I can’t even think of any reason to tell you why this one makes the list; it just does. It evokes fall for me. I listen to it, and it’s October.


I loved this music when I was 17, but now that I’m at a more autumnal age they’re an even better fit for how I’m likely to feel when I hear them.

I hope you enjoy them as well, if you click on the links.

6 thoughts on “It’s time to listen to the world’s most autumnal band

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Yeah, I know it’s highly likely that no one will engage this post until, two or three years from now, some other Band fanatic runs across it.

    But I had fun posting it last night, after several days of enjoying fall weather (yes, even today’s) and simultaneously listening to a CD of The Band in my car.

    I just love the fall, and like the idea of the season having its own official band to provide accompaniment. And if you know of another musical act or composer or whatever that’s way autumnal, please let me know, so I can listen to that, too…

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Since you solicited offers for other music that is “autumnal”, I submit Ashokan Farewell for your approval. Yeah, I know the first thing that everyone thinks of is Ken Burns’ Civil War, (and I do as well) but to me, it also has a melancholy “autumnal feel”, which is why it works for a tragic subject like the war.

      As with anything like this, your mileage may vary.

        1. Norm Ivey

          I have no Autumn playlist, but a couple of tracks come to mind.

          -California Dreaming (even though that’s a winter’s day).
          -Pretty much anything by Gordon Lightfoot.
          -Girl from the North Country (Cash and Dylan).

          Bending the rules to focus on Halloween–
          -Li’l Red Riding Hood
          -Redbone’s Witch Queen
          -And, of course, the theme from Halloween.

          Sorry for the obvious choices.


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