We’re already into the final quarter of Gregorian calendar year 2013 – another one almost over. I admit to liking early autumn. It’s still fairly warm and the foliage on the trees looks lovely. It’s a bittersweet time of year – even though I’ve not been in school in twenty years, I still get that “summer’s over” feeling in September. You know, that ‘oh man, what a drag’ sentiment mixed with ‘but hey, a new (Gregorian) year is on the way’. Like I say, bittersweet.
Here’s one of my fave autumn tunes – it’s by the one-and-only Nick Drake. I love everything about it – the gentle finger-picked guitar chords, Drake’s melancholy-but-hopeful vocal and the lyrics. “Summer was gone and the heat died down/and Autumn reached for her golden crown…” and “Time goes by from year to year/and no-one asks why I’m standing here/but I have my answer/I look to the sky…for this is the time of no reply…” Beautiful and evocative. I often wondered what he is looking to the sky for. The space brothers? Angels? I love how he never says – I just picture him in comtemplation while the weather gets colder.
In contrast – here’s another autumn-type tune from Led Zeppelin, from their mystic-tinted fourth album. The title of the album is four symbols, representing the four members of the band. Consequently, it’s just been called “Led Zeppelin IV” or “The Symbols Album”. The song is called “Four Sticks”, allegedly because drummer John Bonham used two sets of drumsticks while playing the central beat. The main riff is a nice Page rocker, but the interesting bit is when they get to the chorus. The chords are minor, which gives a strange, haunted feel to the music. For me, it just conjures images of autumn evenings – especially with the lyrics: “When the owls fly in the night/and when the pines begin to cry..”. I still have no idea what Plant is singing toward the end. Some Tolkien-esque phrases, I reckon – something about strong shields and boots marching. Grok it in it’s fullness: