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  • Gemma James

The Transition from Summer to Autumn: A Playlist

The spell between mid-August and mid-September has always been a period of mixed feelings for me. On one hand, it’s an exciting time, as the leaves begin to change, the air turns crisp, and fall specials start to appear on menus nationwide. On the other hand, classes resume, summer clothes are tucked away, and cold or flu season slowly creeps in.

This blend of emotions always manifests itself in a change in listening habits on my Spotify. Since making playlists is a form of therapy to me, I made one to encapsulate all the feelings I have about the transition from summer to autumn.

“Apple Pie” by Lizzy McAlpine

“Apple Pie” is, by nature, a nostalgic feeling song. The slow, melodic chords combined with the sweet lyrics create such a sentimental ambiance. The song evokes a feeling of uncertainty about the future, as well. For me, these emotions are reminiscent of the start of fall. As summer dwindles and another academic year begins, I find myself feeling nostalgic for my younger years of riding the bus or joking with my friends outside of our school. It also represents the anxiety that starting a new school year might bring, whether it’s the pressure of figuring out a future career or the concern for new classes.

“Apple Pie” speaks of reassurance, especially within a person. McAlpine sings “home is wherever you are tonight”. This is a very sweet sentiment, which is especially reflected in this autumn for me. I moved in with my boyfriend this year and this is our first fall season together, bringing all the cozy feelings close to home.

Plus, apple pie might just be one of my favorite fall desserts. The end of August or beginning of September brings the start of apple season, welcoming this delicious treat.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift

As a huge swiftie, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is one of my quintessential autumn albums. As the weather turns crisp, I find myself pulling out my Taylor Swift scarf and singing along to my favorites. One of my favorites is, of course, “Red (Taylor’s Version)”for which the album is titled.

One of my favorite lines from this song, making it such a great fall song, is “like the colors in autumn, so bright, just before they lose it all”. Not only does this evoke such strong autumn imagery, but it makes me really excited for all of the upcoming scenery.

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” is a fairly upbeat song, which does a nice job of showcasing my excited energy towards all of the fall activities.

“Wasted Summers” by juju

With the start of fall, unfortunately, comes the end of summer. Especially as a teenager in a world where social media glamorizes life and coming of age movies create an unrealistic ideal, there is this pressure to have a “perfect” summer every year. From creating lengthy bucket lists to working towards a “summer body”, I often find myself disappointed by the end of the summer, especially if I don’t achieve all of the things I was hoping for. “Wasted Summers” tells the story of spending an entire summer working towards a relationship that doesn’t work out. While my disappointment at the end of the summer might be more mundane, merely a result of not getting to go to the beach or read all of my TBR, this song still envelopes the disappointment that this season sometimes brings.

“Chai Tea” by audrey

On a very literal note, chai lattes are one of my favorite things to order, especially during fall. That being said, “Chai Tea” by audrey also reminds me of being in a coffee shop, in general. I drink a lot of coffee year-round, but as the weather turns chilly, I find myself in coffee shops more frequently. Between the return of fall flavored drinks and the start of school, coffee shops offer a space to study, a source of caffeine, and a warm ambience. The background music in “Chai Tea” paired with the ambient noise of pouring reminds me of sitting in a coffee shop, sipping on a warm drink, and studying.

The repetition of “sip sip sip sip sip” is also reminiscent of the fall of raindrops. As someone who's lived in the Pacific Northwest for a little over a year, I’ve already begun associating the autumn season with the start of a long stretch of rainy days.

“There She Goes” by The La’s

“Gilmore Girls” is a huge comfort show for me. While I could happily rewatch it all year long, something about the start of fall builds a huge need to revisit Stars Hollow in my heart. “There She Goes” is one of my favorite songs from “Gilmore Girls”, creating an automatic association with my favorite fall show.

“Better Friends” by Abby Cates

While, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest for the past year or so, I spent my highschool years living in the Midwest. Although I’m extremely grateful for the experiences and opportunities I had, I was not the biggest fan of living in the Midwest. I was often filled with a sense of restlessness, as I felt that I could find so much more in another region.

“Better Friends” does a really nice job of showcasing the restlessness and impatience that come with living in the Midwest, especially as a teenager. This feeling was always intensified in the summer and fall, as “Better Friends” makes reference to by mentioning the mundane activities that the Midwest has to offer. Just like Abby Cates mentions, my summers were often spent driving around and having lousy conversations with mediocre people.

The fall, especially, brings me a sense of this same restlessness. As a second-year university student, I’m at a very pivotal point; I’m deciding what the rest of my life is going to look like. While I’ve been at this point for a while, it doesn’t make it any less intimidating. Living in the Midwest showed me what I don’t want, right? But what do I want? As the fall rolls around, I’m given the chance to choose new classes, join new clubs, and make new friends. While it’s definitely exciting, it also builds an uneasy, anxious feeling within me, which “Better Friends” really represents.

“Romeo & Juliet” by Peter McPoland

As I’ve mentioned before, this fall is my first time getting to experience the season while living with my boyfriend. Even though we’ve been dating for more than just this fall, and have done many of the fall couple’s activities together, this fall still feels exciting. We get to dress our kittens up in Halloween costumes, pick out our own candy for any trick-or-treaters, and keep our matching Jack-o-Lanterns together outside our door. “Romeo & Juliet” is an inherently romantic song, speaking of all the “eventually”s in a relationship. This romantic feeling is especially meaningful to me this year, as it finally feels like we’ve reached all of these “eventually”s.

Beyond my personal connection, however, I find that the warm tones of “Romeo and Juliet” really match the warmth that can come with autumn. The rosy colors and gold tones of the season seem to match the feeling of this song very well.

“Campus” by Vampire Weekend

The transition from summer to autumn brings the start of a new school year. While I’m on the quarter system, so I start classes much later than most of my friends who go to different universities, I can’t deny the buzz in the air as everyone starts to return to school. “Campus” is the ultimate song for school. Both its melody and lyrics bring a sense of academia, creating a very romantic idea of being a student, which I definitely need as I return to school.

“Eventually” by Tame Impala

“Eventually” is about the end of a relationship, undeniably so. The lyrics so obviously represent the sad acknowledgement that the relationship must come to an end. When you take a step back, however, I find that the song is a good anthem for a time of change. What is more of a change than the start of fall? Not only are the leaves turning and a new school year starting, but for many, including me, it also means moving states for college.

Last year, around this season, I had a very hard time emotionally. I had just moved halfway across the country, leaving behind friends and family. I was reeling from a recent friendship breakup. I was about to start college and, in the midst of coping with all this change, I could only find myself repeating the reminder “but I know that I’ll be happier”.

“New Year’s Day” by Taylor Swift

Bear with me – I know that the start of fall is far from New Year’s. While Taylor Swift’s song definitely tells the story of the beginning of a year, I think that it also is a great song for any time of change. As I’ve already expressed, the transition from summer to fall is a time of great change, in my opinion. Frankly, I think that it can be even more of a transitionary period than a new year, in some ways. As a result, “New Year’s Day” represents the wistfulness of a new chapter in life.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m just about to start my second year of college. Although the transition has gotten easier, I still find myself begging my friends from high school, “hold on to the memories” and “please don’t ever become a stranger whose laugh I could recognize anywhere”.

Additionally, I find the piano found in the backing music to be very soothing. Although I’ve expressed so much uncertainty and anxiety for fall, I do find the season to be comforting. This might be hard to believe, but autumn truly is my favorite season. I find it warm and cozy and the piano in “New Year’s Day” makes me want to curl up under a blanket with a warm cup of tea, just like the fall weather does.

The transition from summer to fall is a complicated one, emotionally. From excitement to anxiety, I know these songs capture the feelings and ambiance that the start of autumn brings in my life. I hope that you, too, find this playlist to be a bridge between the seasons and your own feelings.


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