View Full Version : SOTW: Autumn

04-25-2011, 01:20 AM
I apologize for the shitty write up. I don't think I can quite begin to express adequately what this song means to me.

Driven through by her own sword
Summer died last night, alone.
Even the ghosts
huddle up for warmth.
Autumn has come to my hometown

Friendly voices, dead and gone,
singing, Star of the country down...
(even the ghosts help raise the barn,
here, now, in my hometown)

-when, out of the massing
that bodes and bides, in the cold west,
flew a waxwing, who froze
and died against my breast!
And all the while, rain,
like a weed in the tide,
swans and lists, down
on the gossiping lawn,
saying, "tsk, tsk, tsk".

I may have changed. It's hard to gauge.
Time won't account for how I've aged.
Would I could tie your lying tongue,
who says that leaving keeps you young.

I have got no control
over my heart, over my mind.
Over the hills, the rainclouds roll.
I'll winter here, wait for a sign.

To cast myself
out, over the water,
riven like a wishbone.
You'd hardly guess
I was my own mother's daughter;
I ain't naturally given to roam.
I lay low, when I return,
and I move
like a gurney
whose wheels are squeaking,
alone, here in my home,
and I laugh,
when you speak of my
among the tall pines,
along the lay-lines.
Here, where the loon keens.
There, where the moon leans.
where I know my violent love lays down,
in a row of silent, dove-gray days.
Here, in a row of silent, dove-gray days.

Wherever I go, I am snowbound
by thoughts of him
whom I would sun.
I loved them all,
one by one.
Cannot gain ground,
cannot outrun;
but time marches along.
You can't always stick around.
But, when the final count is done,
I will be in my hometown.
I will be in my hometown.

Autumn was one of the very last songs that I “got” on HOOM; initially, it was overshadowed by showier stunners like In California, Go Long and the title track. At first I found it plodding and kind of tuneless, but I could sense, vaguely, that there was something special hidden beneath the surface. Somewhere along the way, that initial curiosity blossomed into full-on love.

Autumn is one of my favorite songs by J.News, if not my absolute favorite. It isn’t catchy or particularly striking at first, but its strength lies in its simplicity. Even lyrically, where Joanna is prone to verbosity and intricacy, she reins herself in this time. The results are, in my opinion, completely stunning. The comparative minimalism of the verbiage and starkness of the imagery really drive the emotional impact of the song home. I love the metaphor of Autumn as a slow, almost imperceptible death- of childhood, innocence, idealism, etc- and how that is reflected in the melancholy of the melody.

Maybe I love the song so much because I can relate to it on a very personal level, much more than any of Joanna’s other songs. Strange, because with her evocation of particular imagery and setting, I think the song is meant to be specific to Joanna and her hometown. Outwardly, it’s about two things: her feelings of attachment/ nostalgia for her hometown, and the growing schism between her idealization of the past and the inevitable changes that both she and the town go through; she also writes about a relationship gone bad, which she escapes from/ copes with by returning to her roots, only to be forced to confront the ways in which she’s changed.

Still, she ends on an unequivocal note: “When the final count is down/ I will be in my hometown.” I think anyone who’s grown up in a small or close-knit community can relate to the ethos of this song. I don’t quite think I’m doing it justice, but the way she captures the subtle pain of change, time, heartbreak and self-questioning, is just incredibly arresting, acute and insightful. Without being too TMI about my own personal issues, this song so captures my feelings about my inevitable departure from the Philippines (which I absolutely need to do, but which will break my heart completely) and my father’s mental illness/ refusal to take responsibility for himself. I feel like, if I had anywhere near Joanna’s IMMENSE capabilities as a poet/ composer, I’d have written this song, you know? It speaks to me, and of me, probably more than any other song in my recent memory.

Plus, the way she sings this song is so incredibly vulnerable and devastating, as though she’s trying to keep a stiff upper lip in the onslaught of all her emotions, but she’s obviously barely holding it together. As much as I miss her earlier, crazier vocals, I think her new voice is much more nuanced and expressive.

So, Autumn: a stunning piece of work and, to me, a crowning achievement. Joanna just slays me every time I listen to it.

arsonist samael
04-25-2011, 10:45 AM
My favourite off of HOOM, and quite possibly the last one I got into. It slays me too. :( Great job, Yuki.

04-25-2011, 06:08 PM
I adore Autumn. I think that it really exemplifies Joanna's skill as a lyricist. The lyrics are simple compared to some of her other lyrics, but they are just as beautiful. Great post! :)

04-27-2011, 06:52 AM
I have got no control
over my heart, over my mind.
Over the hills, the rainclouds roll.
I'll winter here, wait for a sign.

This part, followed by the plucking of the harp, gets me every time. I found myself humming this the other night and had to play it several times the next day. Although I don't play the song very often, I do think it's one of her most beautiful melodies.

04-28-2011, 08:45 PM
Never really got into this song until I saw her play it in Amsterdam last year. I really enjoy the arrangement.