Thursday, October 19, 2006

Music review: "Autumn in New York," Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Autumn in New York
Why does it seem so inviting?
Autumn in New York
It spells the thrill of first-nighting

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

* * *

My friend Kateri first introduced me to this song before I came to the city four and a half years ago. It's a duet between Ella Fitzgerald and froggy Louis Armstrong, and when I first heard it, it was a prophesy of things to come. Now I'm in my fourth New York autumn, and every year when I hear it a familiar chord of nostalgia is struck. I think the song really captures something about the life here - it's weird, but the song really reminds me of a tactile sensation of walking through Central Park at night with damp leaves underfoot. That is autumn here, to me.

New York is the most autumnal of cities, I think. So many dreams have been made and lost here; everyone has come here in order to pursue their own futures, with the same sense of optimism and naivete in 2006 as in 1956 as in 1906 as in 1886. Everyone you meet who has come from somewhere else has a story, and aspirations. Among all of those people rising and falling is a certain undercurrent of wistfulness and melancholy and jealousy and happiness - and if that isn't the fall I don't know what is.

Anyways, this song is beautiful and it's worth 99 cents on iTunes. Every year when I hear it reminds me of previous layers of memories, and gives me a glimpse of how it will feel to miss the present moment. The singers couldn't be better, the tempo and melody couldn't be more lovely, and my autumns would never be the same without it.

Autumn in New York - it's good to live it again. Thanks, Kateri.

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