October 12, 2012

The Autumn Mix Tape: Apple Patches and Pumpkin Trees


Photo by Eleanor LoNardo

Before I start: the original photo used was taken by Eleanor LoNardo, who is wonderfully talented and gracious for letting me mess with her photo for mix tape art like the 14 year old I am.

I got into trouble on Tuesday night.

See, I was home sick and wanted very much to put on Sufjan Stevens’ Christmas albums. But I was told explicitly by my boyfriend that it was too soon. Too soon for Christmas, Kathleen.

Pish posh! I was raised by a mother who believes that Christmas starts the moment Thanksgiving dinner is over. It should also be noted that our house had two Christmas trees, enough garland to re-foliage all the burn areas in my home state of Colorado, and so many Santa figurines there was almost nowhere to put a cup of coffee down in the morning without playing Kris Kringle Dominoes.

I love holiday music. It’s bordering on obsession. Every holiday I trawl through record stores and the internet, searching for The Ventures’ Christmas album, or that one time Phantom Planet covered “Carol of the Bells.” I relished when The Mynabirds recorded the stinging, poignant “All I Want is Truth (For Christmas).”

I can listen to Otis Redding’s “Merry Christmas Baby” in August. By “can” I mean “do.”

But it’s October, and it’s not even close to Halloween, let alone Christmas. Before I could get overruled, I snuck in one listen of “Sister Winter” before conceding that, yes, early October could be too soon for holiday music. The sudden change from sunny to rainy, from shorts to scarves, can tempt me to jump past autumn, and (Manheim) steamroller right into the holiday state of mind. Please forget I made that joke.

I needed to find the True Meaning of Fall. To find music with riffs as open as the breath of changing seasons blowing the summer heat back down to Florida. Songs to remind me of the simmering, russet magic of autumn. For these enchanting months when even the clouds feel restorative, and your skin still holds some of that summer heat under your freshly unpacked sweaters.

There is so much life in fall, in the space between the sweaty magnetism of summer and the woolen comfort of winter. It’s a time of harvest and connection to the soil that feeds us, of observance as the world sheds its gaudy summer baubles and falls asleep naked under a cloudy blanket. It is no coincidence that as the weather gets colder, everything turns to warm shades of orange and red to keep us company until the white and gray mutes all our racing thoughts and tosses us straight into 2013.

So I am going to hold off on my holiday obsession and appreciate exactly where I am. This is the playlist that will help me with that. I hope it helps you, too.

But you can bet there will be one hell of a holiday playlist coming your way! DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING! I am my mother’s daughter.

PS: My most cherished autumn song by far is Eva Cassidy’s “I Know You By Heart”, which is not available on Spotify. Please feel free and obligated to go purchase it, because it’s an extraordinary song by a singular songwriter who died far too young.




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