Autumn Leaves (song)
|Song by Yves Montand and Irène Joachim|
|English title||Les feuilles mortes|
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).
Recordings and covers
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (February 2015)|
- 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).
- The Melachrino Strings recorded an instrumental version of the song in London on August 18, 1950. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number B 9952.
- On December 24, 1950, French singer Edith Piaf sang both French and English versions of this song on the radio programme The Big Show, hosted by Tallulah Bankhead.
- In 1955, pianist Roger Williams recorded "Autumn Leaves", the only piano instrumental to reach #1 on Billboard 's popular music chart. It sold over two million copies and was awarded a gold disc.
- 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. 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).
- The film Autumn Leaves (1956), starring Joan Crawford, featured over the title sequence the song as sung by Nat King Cole.
- Cannonball Adderley recorded the song in 1958 for his Blue Note album Somethin' Else featuring Miles Davis.
- The same year Patti Page also sang the song in the album Indiscretion (1960).
- The French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to this song in his own song "La chanson de Prévert" (1961).
- Miles Davis played the song as part of his live repertoire from 1960 until 1966. Except for the session with Cannonball Adderley in 1958, Davis never recorded the tune in a studio. Several concerts were recorded and released for the most part by Columbia. The earliest concert recordings of the song played by the Miles Davis Quintet are from 1960 capturing his ensemble in a transitional phase with Sonny Stitt on tenor saxophone. The following recordings featured tenorist Hank Mobley (In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, 1961), then George Coleman (Live in Antibes, Live at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival), and since the Berlin concert in September 1964 with Wayne Shorter, finally establishing the so-called "second great Miles Davis Quintet" (that soon would abandon completetly the standard repertoire). After a second official release, The Complete Live at the Plugged Nickel 1965 (1995), the last known recording of Davis playing "Autumn Leaves" so far was a concert in 1966 at the Oriental Theatre in Portland, Oregon, a bootleg from 2010.
- Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the RCA Victor album I'm a Fool to Want You (1968). The British Invasion band Manfred Mann released a rock version on their 1966 album As Is.
- The 2003 Vanguard reissue of Joan Baez' album Joan (1967) contains a French interpretation of the song "Autumn Leaves".
- Ben Webster and the Georges Arvanitas Trio released a version on their album Autumn Leaves (1972).
- Patricia Routledge sings it on her album Presenting Patricia Routledge Singing the Classics (1975).
- "Autumn Leaves" is the corps song of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps,and it is listed on their 1987 program.
- The Electronic duo Coldcut recorded a cover of the song for their album Philosophy (1993), featuring guest vocalist Janis Alexander on vocals.
- The cult British band The Tiger Lillies covered the song on their debut album Births, Marriages and Deaths (1994).
- A version by Eva Cassidy is one of the highlights of her seminal live album Live at Blues Alley (1996).
- Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou recorded the song for her first album, In a Jazz Mood (1996).
- Raquel Bitton recorded a version that appears on her album Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf (2000).
- Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show (2000).
- 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).
- 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).
- Mark Lanegan recorded a version of the song in his album Imitations (2013).
- Emmy Rossum released a cover of the song on her album Sentimental Journey (2013).
- Bob Dylan recorded a version for his Frank Sinatra covers album Shadows in the Night (2015).
- Jermaine Jackson recorded a version with French baritone David Serero. This version arranged and produced by David Serero was released on both Jermaine Jackson album I Wish You Love and Serero's album All I Care About is Love (2012)
Structure and chord progression
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The song is in AABC form. "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.
- Massin B. (1999). Les Joachim – Une famille de musiciens. Paris: Fayard.
- The Big Show. "BigShow-02". BigShow. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
As carried on Internet radio at
- The Coasters, One by One Retrieved February 8, 2012.
- François, Corinne (2000). Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Editions Bréal. p. 109. ISBN 978-2-84291-702-9.
- Cf. Miles Davis discography by Peter Losin.
- Al Hirt, They're Playing Our Song Retrieved April 13, 2013.
- "Sergio Franchi". Gemm.com.
- "As Is". AllMusic.com.
- Anonymous. "1987 Programs & Ticket Stubs". The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Retrieved 2006-11-07.
As listed in 1987 program.
- Jerry Lee Lewis, The Jerry Lee Lewis Show Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- 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."
- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1955
- Spitzer, Peter (2001). Jazz Theory Handbook, p.81. ISBN 0-7866-5328-0.
- 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.
- "Autumn Leaves" at jazzstandards.com
- "Autumn Leaves" - Lead sheet at wikifonia.org
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics