Saturday Single No. 418

It’s grey outside, grey and brown. We’ve passed through the finest part of autumn and find ourselves in that “four-week slice of rain and gloom and bitter wind” that I first described in this space four years ago. And Sunday evening and Monday, the season’s first snow will come through, with three to five inches of snow expected.

Given that, it’s good to report that nearly all of the end-of-season tasks have been accomplished. The Texas Gal’s outdoor shelves need to come in for the winter yet, and that can be done today. I have to check the air in the tires on the Versa, and that is another of today’s tasks. (I’ll also check the oil and fill the gas tank, as the Texas Gal and some colleagues from church are heading to a conference tomorrow afternoon.) Finishing up those minor tasks is, I’ve realized lately, the equivalent here on the East Side – in tone if not in effort – of the season’s last work on my Grandpa’s farm. Thinking of that reminds me of a character in a song I that shared here recently, Young Rob in Eric Andersen’s “Blue River,” standing with his ax in his hand, “thinkin’ that the crops are in.”

“Blue River,” which I once described somewhere as the most autumnal song I’ve ever heard, fits perfectly into my musical mood these days. Some years ago, I was discussing in this space the music of Joy of Cooking, the early 1970s band from Berkeley, and I called it “living room music,” meaning music that folks at home can replicate – in style if not in expertise – in their living rooms. All three of Joy of Cooking’s albums from that time have that feeling, and they’ve been in frequent rotation in the CD players here this week. A similar album, of course, is Carole King’s Tapestry, and as a portion of that played this week, I recalled producer Lou Adler’s comment that he tried to give the album a “living room” feel.

And “living room music” is for me the sound of late autumn. There’s something that just feels right about hearing, say, Joy of Cooking’s “Don’t The Moon Look Sad And Lonely” while the wind mourns outside. I’ve realized this week that this is not the first late autumn that’s found me seeking such music. Every year at this time, I pull out Tapestry and Music by Carole King, the Joy of Cooking catalog, some Danko/Fjeld/Andersen and Darden Smith, some Van Morrison and The Band, and some Brewer & Shipley and let the music mark the passing of the season.

And here’s a tune from that last-named duo that fits my mood in these days about as well as anything can. Here’s Brewer & Shipley’s “Song From Platte River.” It’s from their 1970 album Tarkio, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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