Some people like Autumn. I’m not one of them. All the good things come in the Spring and Summer. By the time Winter comes along, death has already claimed its victims. There is a stark beauty in the desolation of Winter, and enough distance from Autumn’s carnage to appreciate the memory of the lives that have been lost. Autumn is the season of death and dying. The rough intrusion and raw destruction of this season is too fresh for detached appreciation. They don’t call it ‘the fall’ for nothing.
The advantages of age are subtle, obscure, and slippery. One thing that older people seem to appreciate more than younger people is the magnificent explosion of the colors in Autumn’s foliage. I must still be young at heart because to me they just look like dead leaves.
The rising winds and falling temperatures of Autumn drive us out of nature’s world into the ones we’ve built to comfort ourselves in bleak times. We retreat not only into our homes but also into public spaces: museums, theaters, pubs. We look for inspiration and entertainment in man-made works. We listen too.
Autumn in New York is a standard in the jazz songbook. Vladimir Dukelsky was a fine enough name for a boy born in a railroad station in Misnk but for a man trying to make it as a composer in America in the 1920s it might be considered a handicap, which is why Vladimir’s friend, George Gershwin, who was born Jacob Gershowitz, suggested a name change. That’s how Vladimir started calling himself Vernon Duke. In 1934 he wrote Autumn in New York for the Broadway show Thumbs Up!
The song has been covered by hundreds of artists, from Sinatra to Sun Ra. This fine performance is by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald:
Autumn in New York, why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York, it spells the thrill of first knighting
Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel
They’re making me feel I’m home
It’s autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love
Autumn in New York is often mingled with pain
Dreamers with empty hands, may sigh for exotic lands
It’s autumn in New York, it’s good to live it again
Autumn in New York, the gleaming rooftops at sundown
Autumn in New York, it lifts you up when you’re run down
Jaded roues and gay divorcees who lunch at the Ritz will tell you that it’s divine
This autumn in New York transforms the slums into Mayfair
Autumn in New York, you’ll need no castles in Spain
Lovers that bless the dark on benches in Central Park
Greet autumn in New York, its good to live it again