Eva Cassidy’s Autumn Leaves

In October and November many people find comfort in Eva Cassidy’s beautiful rendition of ‘Autumn Leaves.’ Eva Cassidy had Seasonal Affective Disorder. When it became September and the days got shorter she told her mother: ‘I can’t really enjoy fall, as beautiful as it is, because I know winter is coming.’ Eva performed ‘Autumn Leaves’ on her own, usually between two uptempo songs, but for the Live At Blues Alley album Lenny Williams improvised a piano part, that they hadn’t rehearsed.

Eva

Eva

‘Autumn Leaves’ is a popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French composition, ‘Les Feuilles mortes’ (literally ‘The Dead Leaves’), with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert. The Hungarian title is ‘Hulló levelek’ (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced ‘Les feuilles mortes’ in the film Les Portes de la nuit (1946) The song is in AABC form. ‘Autumn Leaves’ offers a popular way for beginning jazz musicians to become acquainted with jazz harmony as the chord progression consists almost solely of II-V-I and II-V sequences which are typical of jazz. It was originally, and is most commonly, performed in the key of G minor, but is also played in E minor and other keys. Eva Cassidy’s version is played in B-flat minor. The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics in 1947, and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. ‘Autumn Leaves’ became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer. There is also a Japanese version called Kareha (枯葉) sung by Nat King Cole in his Japanese album version and 高英男 (Hideo Kou).

Eva Cassidy

Eva Cassidy

Many people discovered Eva Cassidy after Terry Wogan had played ‘Over The Rainbow’ on BBC Radio 2. However, according to a playlist that Eva’s record company Hot Records received for royalty purposes, the first song by Eva that Wogan played was not ‘Over The Rainbow’, as most people would assume, but ‘Autumn Leaves’ (during the last week of August 1998). Wogan didn’t realize at that moment that Eva Cassidy would make such a huge impression on his audience later.

Autumn Leaves

The falling leaves drift by my window

The falling leaves of red and gold

I see your lips the summer kisses

The sunburned hands I used to hold

 

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

 

Since you went away the days grow long

And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song

But I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

 

I miss you most of all my darling

When autumn leaves start to fall

 

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