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“Autumn Leaves”

October 25, 2010

Since we’re now well and truly into the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” it’s a timely opportunity for me to share a few words about another one of my favourite songs, “Autumn Leaves”.

Autumn Leaves sheet music

“Autumn Leaves” began life as “Les Feuilles Mortes” (“The Dead Leaves”), a song by French composer Joseph Kosma and poet and lyricist Jacques Prevert which featured in the 1946 film “Les Portes De La Nuit”.

Poster for "Les Portes de la Nuit"

The English lyrics were written by Johnny Mercer in 1947 and the song was recorded by Jo Stafford who was under contract to Capitol Records, the label Mercer had co-founded in 1942.  There was a film of the same name released in 1956 starring Joan Crawford which featured Nat King Cole singing the song over the title sequence.

Cole’s is one of the best known versions, but the song has been covered by many artists including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Doris Day and Eva Cassidy as well as being a favourite of jazz musicians.

My favourite version is by Matt Monro who recorded it in1968 for  his “Late, Late Show” album, produced by George Martin.  I’d love to be able to show a clip of Matt singing it, but the best I can offer is this homemade YouTube video that somebody has put together.  Ignore the pictures – just listen to Matt’s incredible voice:

You can even hear a clip of me singing it myself on the “Listen” page of my website

“Autumn Leaves” is a fabulous song to sing and I try and include it in most of my live sets – even weddings, where the lyrics probably aren’t the most appropriate!


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