I used to have my answerphone message suited to the season. At Christmas, it would play a rather cheesy Charlie Parker recording of “White Christmas”; spring would be Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring”; then Basie’s version of “April in Paris”, and several month’s of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans’ “Summertime”.
And then, for a long, long while, it got stuck on “Autumn Leaves” – the Cannonball Adderley/Miles Davis version – the definitive arrangement.
Driving south along the A83 the other day, I was listening to Jazz Line-Up on the radio, and they played a beautiful vocal version of the tune. I hadn’t really listened to the words before – I don’t think I have the tune with vocals – and concentrating in the car, they struck me as rather beautiful, in an October, melancholic way:
The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winters song
But I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall
– Johnny Mercer
Along similar lines, I recently read the Time Traveller’s Wife – I’ll probably talk about that some other time – but it contained several lines of poetry I rather liked. I don’t read poetry – it doesn’t make sense to me – but I did like these lines:
The heart asks pleasure first
and then excuse from pain
– Emily Dickinson