Autumn Songs

Resting from the Harvest, by Alfred Glendening, 1861 – 1907.

For Meredith, and in memoriam Danny.

I’ll begin this little survey of music for Autumn with a pair of people who may never have met but who crossed paths artistically: lyricist-singer-composer Johnny Mercer and composer-arranger-pianist-singer Michel Legrand.

Mercer wrote English lyrics to the great French song ”Les Feuilles mortes,” by Hungarian-French film composer Joseph Kosmo (who scored a bunch of famous films by Renoir and others, which I haven’t seen), lyrics by the French poet and lyricist Jacques Prevert (whom Lawrence Ferlinghetti translated for his own City Lights Pocket Poet series). Mercer Englished the French “dead leaves” as “Autumn Leaves. And Michel Legrand recorded it at least twice, both beautiful versions, and both featuring prominent violin.

The first comes from Barbra Streisand’s 1966 album of French songs, Je m’appelle Barbra, arranged and conducted by Legrand. A terrific album, with a moodily elegant black & white Richard Avedon photo for the cover. The violin soloist is uncredited.

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