Kinks – Autumn Almanac

This is a very sophisticated complex pop song…the melody and the way everything connects just fit so perfectly. This was released as a non-album single in between 1967’s Something Else by the Kinks and 1968’s The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

I love hearing this song around Autumn. Out of all the seasons, Fall is my favorite season of all. Like spring…it doesn’t last long enough. With Fall comes the relief of 95+ temps and 90 percent humidity here.

Waterloo Sunset' came to Ray Davies in a dream —

Ray has said the words were influenced by his Dad’s old drinking buddy named Charlie. Remember me saying that it was a complex song? It has around 19 different chords in it…songs written around this time had around oh… 3 to 5 chords. Comparing it to another Kinks song Dedicated Follower of Fashion… which had around 5 chords.

The best way I’ve heard this song described is by Andy Partridge (I have the entire long quote at the bottom) of XTC…he said it was like a miniature movie, basically, that unravels itself as you are listening to it...that is a perfect way of describing it.

The song was released in 1967 and it peaked at #3 in the UK, #13 in Canada, and #17 in New Zealand. At that time The Kinks were Ray Davies, Dave Davies, Pete Quaife, and Mick Avory on drums. On this recording, the in-demand session man Nicky Hopkins played the Mellotron.

Ray Davies: “The words were inspired by Charlie, my dad’s old drinking mate, who cleaned up my garden for me, sweeping up the leaves. I wrote it in early autumn, yeah, as the leaves were turning color.”

Andy Partridge of XTC on the song: It’s a miniature movie, basically, that unravels itself as you are listening to it, and it has all these little movements or scenes. And they all seem to take place in the kind of mythical cozy London that the Ealing studios always had in their films, like The Lavender Hill Mob. The song just keeps turning and changing; you see a new facet every few seconds. But there’s nothing unsettling about the fact that there are so many parts. Normally that would just be the death of a song, it would just scramble peoples brains.

The lyrics are very everyday. There’s no “calling occupants of interplanetary craft” in it. All the language in it is what you’d say over a cup of tea. It’s like a roller-coaster, but it’s not a high-speed chromium-plated space-age roller-coaster – it’s this slow creaking wooden baroque kind of roller-coaster. There are some lovely moments in it, like that sections that starts “Friday evening…..” It starts off in this mournful minor thing, and you think, “Oh dear, Friday evening, the end of something,” and then suddenly: “People get together” – it clicks into major, and becomes very optimistic. It just lifts your heart up another rung. And there’s something very plain and uplifting about [from the chorus] “yes, yes, yes,” this repetition of the affirmative.

The woodiness of “Autumn Almanac” is really appealing. Everything sounds like sticks and branches and planks. The whole song is wallpapered in dead leaves, as far as I’m concerned. The [the Kinks] touched on this same sort of thing later on, in “Shangri-La” and “Lavender Hill,” but it was more mannered, a bit more ponderous.

Damn, I wish I’d written this song. I’ll probably spend my life trying to. It’s such a huge ghost; my entire songwriting career has been trying to exorcise it.

Dave Davies: “I was playing through ‘Autumn Almanac’ [recently] and it’s a phenomenal recording. You can understand why it has lasted so long.”

Autumn Almanac

From the dew-soaked hedge creeps a crawly caterpillar
When the dawn begins to crack
It’s all part of my autumn almanac
Breeze blows leaves of a musty-colored yellow
So I sweep them in my sack
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac

Friday evenings, people get together
Hiding from the weather
Tea and toasted, buttered currant buns
Can’t compensate for lack of sun
Because the summer’s all gone

La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Oh, my poor rheumatic back
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Oh, my autumn almanac
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac

I like my football on a Saturday
Roast beef on Sundays, all right
I go to Blackpool for my holidays
Sit in the open sunlight

This is my street, and I’m never gonna leave it
And I’m always gonna to stay here
If I live to be ninety-nine
‘Cause all the people I meet
Seem to come from my street
And I can’t get away
Because it’s calling me (come on home)
Hear it calling me (come on home)

La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Oh, my autumn Armagnac
Yes, yes, yes, it’s my autumn almanac
La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Oh, my autumn almanac
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes

Bop-bop-boom-bop-bop-boom-bop-bop-boom-bop-bop-boom (whoa!)

Yes, yes