Autumn Leaves (song)

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For 2014 Chris Brown song, see X (Chris Brown album).
"Autumn Leaves"
Song by Yves Montand and Irène Joachim
English title Les feuilles mortes
Written 1945
Published 1946
Composer Joseph Kosma
Lyricist Jacques Prévert (French)
Johnny Mercer (English)
Recorded by Jo Stafford, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, The Melachrino Strings, Roger Williams, 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 the film Les Portes de la nuit (1946).[1]

Recordings and covers[edit]

1940s[edit]

  • 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).

1950s[edit]

  • In 1955, pianist Roger Williams recorded "Autumn Leaves", the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard‍ '​s popular music chart.[1] It sold over two million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed] 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).[citation needed]

1960s[edit]

  • The Coasters released a version of the song on their album One by One (1960).[3]
  • The same year Patti Page also sang the song in the album Indiscretion (1960).

1970s[edit]

  • Grace Jones released a version on her album Fame (1978), which was released as a single.

1980s[edit]

1990s[edit]

  • The cult British band The Tiger Lillies covered the song on their debut album Births, Marriages and Deaths (1994).
  • Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou recorded the song for her first album, In a Jazz Mood (1996).

2000s[edit]

  • Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show (2000).[12]
  • Progressive house duo Way Out West used the main chord progression and final line of the second verse for their single "The Fall"; it reached #61 on the UK Singles chart in 2000.
  • Andrea Bocelli released a version of "Les Feuilles Mortes" on his album Amore (2006).

2010s[edit]

  • British blues/rock guitarist Eric Clapton recorded a cover of "Autumn Leaves" for his album, Clapton (2010).
  • The song is the opening track on Jason Kouchak's album Comme d'Habitude (2010).

Chart appearances[edit]

In 1955, Roger Williams made the song a number-one hit in the United States, with the only piano instrumental to reach number one.[13] Billboard ranked this version as the No. 4 song of 1955.[14]

Structure and chord progression[edit]

Sample of a recording of "Autumn Leaves" by Eva Cassidy from the album Live at Blues Alley (1996)

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song is in AABC form.[15] "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 (clip on the right) is played in B-flat minor.

Its iv7 – VII7 – IIImaj7 – VImaj7 – ii7(b5) – V7 – i chord progression is an example of the circle-of-fifths progression.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Massin B. (1999). Les Joachim – Une famille de musiciens. Paris: Fayard. 
  2. ^ The Big Show. "BigShow-02". BigShow. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-25. As carried on Internet radio at 
  3. ^ The Coasters, One by One Retrieved February 8, 2012.
  4. ^ François, Corinne (2000). Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Editions Bréal. p. 109. ISBN 978-2-84291-702-9. 
  5. ^ Cf. Miles Davis discography by Peter Losin.
  6. ^ Al Hirt, They're Playing Our Song Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  7. ^ "Sergio Franchi". Gemm.com. 
  8. ^ "As Is". AllMusic.com. 
  9. ^ http://www.jazzmessengers.com/en/7154/ben-webster/autumn-leaves-digipak
  10. ^ http://www.worldcat.org/title/autumn-leaves-ben-webster-et-le-trio-georges-arvanitas/oclc/476668093
  11. ^ Anonymous. "1987 Programs & Ticket Stubs". The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Retrieved 2006-11-07. As listed in 1987 program. 
  12. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, The Jerry Lee Lewis Show Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  13. ^ 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." 
  14. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1955
  15. ^ Spitzer, Peter (2001). Jazz Theory Handbook, p.81. ISBN 0-7866-5328-0.
  16. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]