Autumn Leaves (song)
|("Les feuilles mortes")|
|Music by||Joseph Kosma|
|Lyrics by||Jacques Prévert (French)
Johnny Mercer (English)
|Original artist||Yves Montand and Irène Joachim|
|Recorded by||Jo Stafford, Edith Piaf, The Melachrino Strings, Nat King Cole, Eric Clapton|
"Autumn Leaves" is a much-recorded popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves") with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, and the Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la nuit.
Recordings and covers
The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote 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).
The film Autumn Leaves (1956) starring Joan Crawford featured the song, as sung by Nat King Cole, over the title sequence. The French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to this song in his own song "La chanson de Prévert". Frank Sinatra included a popular version of the song on his 1956 album Where Are You?.
Andy Williams released a version of the song on his 1959 album, Lonely Street. The Coasters released a version of the song on their 1960 album One by One. Al Hirt released a version on his 1965 album, They're Playing Our Song. The British Invasion band Manfred Mann released a rock version on their 1966 album As Is. Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the 1968 RCA Victor album I'm a Fool to Want You. Raquel Bitton recorded a version in 2000 that appears on her album Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf. Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the 2000 album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show.
Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou recorded the song for her first 1996 album, In a Jazz Mood. The song also appears on Iggy Pop's 2009 album Préliminaires as the opening track. A version by Eva Cassidy is one of the highlights of her seminal live album Live at Blues Alley (1996). The Electronic duo Coldcut recorded a cover of the song for their 1993 album Philosophy, featuring guest vocalist Janis Alexander on vocals.
On the 1950s US television series Your Hit Parade, in which the Top 7 songs of the week were performed, the song was performed in several episodes during 1955. In one episode, Thelma "Tad" Tadlock danced to an instrumental version of the song, while in another episode, Gisele MacKenzie sang the French version (though with the final line in English).
Structure and chord progression
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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 E minor, but is also played in G minor and other keys. Eva Cassidy's version (clip on the right) is played in B-flat minor with a capo on the first fret.
- Massin B. Les Joachim – Une famille de musiciens. Fayard, Paris, 1999.
- The Big Show. "BigShow-02". BigShow. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-25. "As carried on Internet radio at"
- François, Corinne (2000). Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Editions Bréal. p. 109. ISBN 978-2-84291-702-9.
- Anonymous. "1987 Programs & Ticket Stubs". The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Retrieved 2006-11-07. "As listed in 1987 program."
- The Coasters, One by One Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- Al Hirt, They're Playing Our Song Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- "As Is". AllMusic.com.
- "Sergio Franchi". Gemm.com.
- Jerry Lee Lewis, The Jerry Lee Lewis Show Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- Anonymous. "Roger Williams". Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-11-07. "In 1965, Williams added a chorus and charted it again at no. 10 Billboard Easy Listening as "Autumn Leaves - 1965.""
- Spitzer, Peter (2001). Jazz Theory Handbook, p.81. ISBN 0-7866-5328-0.
- Kostka, Stefan; Payne, Dorothy; Almén, Byron (2013). Tonal harmony with an introduction to twentieth-century music (seventh ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 46, 238. ISBN 978-0-07-131828-0.
- "Autumn Leaves" at jazzstandards.com
- "Autumn Leaves" - Lead sheet at wikifonia.org
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics