The sights and sounds of fall

When the ’60s pop group The Mamas & the Papas sang, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray” in their classic hit “California Dreamin’,” they were longing for sunnier West Coast pastures away from an East Coast fall.

Yet, they could have just as easily been crooning about Florida, because despite last Thursday being the first day of fall, the skies and humid weather feel more like summer. Starbucks may be offering their Pumpkin Spice Lattes and October may be sneaking up on us this weekend, but USF students could mistake some days for beach weather.

While we wait for the temperatures to drop and the leaves to turn, Scene & Heard offers a few seasonal music, movie and book options to get you into an autumn mood.


Shot using a rich color palette of auburn and forest green, Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” is the story of a boarding school reject named Max who’s set on winning the affections of a beautiful schoolteacher almost twice his age. The academic obsession that Max has will remind many of the overachieving youth that populate the school halls every new fall semester.

While Anderson films like “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” could probably be considered quintessential fall films as well, there’s something about the academic frenzy that consumes Max that seems fitting for the season.

With a soundtrack that contains autumn-ready hymns like Cat Stevens’ “The Wind,” and the leaf-strewn grounds of the titular school, one could easily feel invited to this fall wonderland.

Benjamin Wright

Neil Young, “Harvest”

Neil Young’s 1972 album “Harvest” pretty much says it all in the title – it’s a fitting tribute to the feelings and memories of the harvest, or fall, season. Young ruminates about moonlit strolls and forgotten love in his haunting croon.

With tracks like “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man” showcasing Young’s ability to tell stories through practically narrative songs, listeners can enjoy the laidback rhythms and intricate tales as the leaves fall.

With songs recorded in barn houses, as well appearances by the likes of Linda Ronstadt and David Crosby, “Harvest” offers a bit of classy backwoods bliss to any autumn playlist.

– Benjamin Wright

Jets to Brazil, “Perfecting Loneliness”

After the influential punk band Jawbreaker broke up in 1995, frontman Blake Schwarzenbach went on to form indie band Jets to Brazil, which combined noisy electric guitar rattling with more chilled-out songs up until their final album “Perfecting Loneliness.”

Though the album’s cover evokes the seasonal colors of orange, brown and yellow, and songs like “Wish List” capture the mood of fall, one song is most obviously suited to the season.

The eighth track “Autumn Walker” creates its autumnal atmosphere through lines like “leaves on the ground” and twinkling guitars help give the song the spirit of a crisp, calm fall afternoon.

– Jimmy Geurts

Nick Drake, “Bryter Layter”

This album is the musical equivalent of sweater weather. Every song has a clarity that could only have been recorded on a crisp autumn morning.

Even the album’s jauntier songs, like “Hazy Jane II” or “One of These Things First,” have a very melancholy undercurrent suggesting damp leaves and overcast skies. But these sad flourishes have a beauty to them that perfectly matches the colors of fall.

There’s such warmness to Drake’s music that makes it almost like another layer of clothing through the colder weather.

– Damon Lord

“Franny and Zooey”

J.D. Salinger’s tale of genius siblings going through self-induced existential breakdowns in their family’s Manhattan apartment offers the perfect fall read. Salinger’s prose breathes autumnal collegiate air.

Fans of Anderson’s film “The Royal Tenenbaums” will find the same deftly expressed angst that can both hit home and feel like it’s from some neurotic parallel dimension apart from our own.

The title characters’ voices ring clearly as bells and are refreshingly unique from one another. Salinger wasn’t afraid to make his characters whiny or unlikeable at times, but toward the end, you start to grow attached to his well-read but utterly clueless leads.

– Damon Lord