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Scene’s Selections: Fall on the horizon

, , and | Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

Pumpkin spice lattes, influenza, decorative gourds, Michael Myers making your neighborhood’s babysitter market less competitive — ah, yes, autumn. We recall it well. The temperature may hesitant to dip below 80 degrees, but we are eager to receive the fruits of the coming season.

“Indian Summer” — Beat Happening 

By Mike Donovan, Scene Editor

A “breakfast in cemetery,” “Indian Summer” wafts its fumes of fresh beginnings — full bellies and fresh starts — into the needy, spoiled nostrils of every sad sack headed the wrong direction: headfirst into the frost. But, bright though it may be, proudly displaying a flicker of fondness for ’60s pop, “Indian Summer” inevitably reverts to the unprotected recesses of its thinned naivete.  

Some revelers (namely, Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening) find this attractive — “What is that cheerful sound? / Rain falling on the ground?” — and express their affection as devotion: “We’ll come back for Indian Summer.” Though it’s unclear whether their attraction to false warmth is one of true innocence — “just a boy playin’ possum” or of a more self-effacing quality: “cover me with rain.” 

Surely, Johnson and those like him know the folly of declaring brusquely, “Cover me with rain / Walk me down the drain.” Is it sarcasm? Is it satire? Or is it actually an earnest attempt for people, a few years past their youthful primes, to believe the steaming air — “We will never change / No matter what they say.”

“Ragged Wood” — Fleet Foxes

By Ryan Israel, Scene Writer

In my book, the requirements to be an autumnal song are incredibly easy to meet. Light, airy instrumentation? Sounds autumnal to me. Some slight reference to nature in the title? Yeah, that’ll count. And those are two things which Fleet Foxes’ “Ragged Wood” does have. The production is driven by soft acoustic guitar and fast paced drums; the title includes the word “wood.” Therefore, “Ragged Wood” is an autumnal song.

Now, if one actually listened to this song — And let’s be honest, who’s really listening to the Scene’s Selections? — they would likely pick up on the lyrics “The spring is upon us, follow my only song.” A direct reference to spring, the season of rebirth and renewal, would seem to disqualify “Ragged Wood” from being an autumnal song. I’d argue against such a statement. Listening to “Ragged Wood” reminds me of the slight chill of autumn air; the orange, red and brown colors of leaves falling to the ground; and the way the sun shines during golden hour at the end of a day spent picking apples and wearing crewneck sweaters. Does it matter that the song might have been written with the season of spring in the artist’s mind? Not to me. As this Indian summer delays the arrival of precious fall, I’ll be listening to “Ragged Wood” to get in the right frame of mind for when it finally does come.

“Tiger Striped Sky” — Roo Panes

By Caroline Lezny, Scene Writer

Welcome Weekend came to a close, Freshmen bid their parents farewell, we all had to face the stark reality that actual commitment to academia would have to begin and, of course, the permacloud instantly settled on Notre Dame’s campus. Just when “Half the world was pulling on his colors,” singer-songwriter Roo Panes sings in “Tiger Striped Sky,” and I thought I would get to break out my autumnal wardrobe, summer decided to return with a vengeance — distracting me from my schoolwork and making me sweat off all my makeup at an outdoor SYR. Fortunately, Roo Panes and his enchanting acoustic music are there to keep me happy despite the heat. Released in the autumn of 2014, the raw folk musicality of “Tiger Striped Sky,” featuring warm string arrangements and bright vocal harmony, captures the longing for adventure in late summer. The song is sentimental and comforting, its lyrics sending the listener on a watercolor journey to “Take a turn from the known road / Think I’ll write a tale of my own.” Let Roo Panes inspire you to use these precious Indian summer days to blow off Club Hes, lay out on South Quad and enjoy those tiger striped South Bend sunsets.

“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” — Bob Dylan

By Charles Kenney, Associate Scene Editor

On the cover of Bob Dylan’s 1963 sophomore effort “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” the Minnesotan dons a worn, sepia leather jacket while he slips his hands into denim blue jeans. His then girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, clutches his arm to find some solace from the New York City wind rushing through the buildings of 4th Avenue. Her teal trench coat bounces off Dylan’s leather. A baby blue VW bug sits vacant on their periphery. The artwork, if it can be called that, is one of those photographs that feels a certain way; arousing a cold in you. Fall means being outside in October and knowing you’ll end up like Dylan and Rotolo — on a stark concrete street, exposed to the elements with one less jacket than you’d like. 

“Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” gives the image a voice. Spring is that ballad of newfound love and, to be purposefully cliche: “rebirth.” Fall is its antithesis. In cutting, brisk strokes, wind reminds us that death — although not here yet — is around the bend. Fall’s inevitability is akin to the end of whatever relationship, presumably not Rotolo’s, he sings of. “It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, babe / I’m on the dark side of the road.” A certain point of no return has been reached where any effort to retreat is done in vain.

Dylan’s raspy voice, lonesome acoustic guitar and smattering of harmonica wheezes only sound right when the temperature outside is fluttering between 30 to 60 degrees. And, if you disagree, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.”

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About Charlie Kenney

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