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The Student News Site of Darien High School

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The Student News Site of Darien High School

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The mural painting class is available to juniors and seniors who have taken Drawing and Painting 3 and received teacher approval. Before painting the mural students must get the design and location approved with administration.
Music Notes, Statues and a Cow?
Katie Galligan, Journalist • April 14, 2024
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Rebirth Among Dying Leaves

10 songs that encapsulate autumn
Rebirth+Among+Dying+Leaves

By the time summer ends, I am oddly accepting of its demise. Autumn glimmers softly, reds and orangish browns mixing to create a cocoon of comfort against the brisk breeze. Songs share this texture. Music can capture that peculiar feeling of nostalgia and faint beginnings. A great song can wrap around you, making you shiver or sag in relief. For me, fall is defined by the rapidly changing weather and beginning of another, routine school year. Here are ten songs that encapsulate this specific ethos of autumn.

 

I’m Not in Love by 10cc

Released in 1975 by British rock band 10cc, I’m Not in Love is a fully immersive sonic experience, dissociatively chronically a person’s denial and fear of vulnerability. The staticy production makes me feel enclosed in a chilling, discomforting way. It is akin to the feeling of the cold that seeps back into the air as fall progresses. The lyrics begin with,

“I’m not in love, so don’t forget it / It’s just a silly phase I’m going through”.

The beauty of I’m Not in Love is that the narrator is obviously in love. It is so powerful and human to have your need for denial be the very verification of your feelings. The lyrical approach is simple, hiding vulnerability right beneath the surface. 10cc sings,

“I keep your picture upon the wall / It hides a nasty stain that’s lying there / So don’t you ask me to give it back / I know you know it doesn’t mean that much to me”.

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Side A of the original 1975 single release of “I’m Not in Love” by 10cc in the UK.

 

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) by The Beatles

 

Off of my favorite band’s iconic 1965 album Rubber Soul, Norwegian Wood has captivated listeners for decades. The entirety of Rubber Soul is actually a fantastic encapsulation of fall. Norwegian Wood’s nonsensical lyrics portray nostalgia and loss with unparalleled poignance. John Lennon leads this song with staples of his lyricism. Lennon likes to say a phrase and then go “this is what I actually mean by that” using this twist to reveal the bias and applied connotations of the listener. He brilliantly utilizes this rhetorical technique multiple times in Strawberry Fields Forever with a favorite of mine being

“But it’s all wrong / That is, I think I disagree”.

Lennon employs this technique before Magical Mystery Tour in Norwegian Wood with the subtly hilarious opening

“I once had a girl / Or should I say she once had me”.

The simplicity of the world choice and lack of introspection on the narrator’s part allow the song to perfectly encapsulate the uniquely human ability to live beside discomfort and regret with relative detachment. Much like fall ending with the dreary winter, this song ends with the anticlimactic

“And when I awoke I was alone / This bird had flown / So I lit a fire / Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?”

 

Anna (Go To Him) by The Beatles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3zNKWyLfus
The Beatles

From The Beatles official debut album, Please Please Me, Anna (Go To Him) is actually a cover of one of Lennon’s favorite songs. With masterful vocal intonation and production, The Beatles make this track their own. Anna is a subtly chilling song of selflessness. Lennon sings about letting a fiancé go:

“Anna, you come and ask me girl / To set you free, girl / You say he loves you more than me / So I will set you free”.

This simple song becomes strikingly pointed by its startlingly mature outlook. How many people would be able to say to their partner “but if he loves you more, / go with him”? The grandeur of soul that these lyrics portray is absolutely inspiring, and sufficiently eye opening for the beginning of another school year as American education can breed selfishness. Emotion dripping from his tone, Lennon sings

“all of my life / I’ve been searching for a girl / To love me like I love you”

I absolutely adore this lyric because I’ve found that a more introspective version of the popular maxim is people want to be treated by others the way that they treat others. The narrator knows how important love is and that he has loved Anna in the way he himself wants to be loved. Tragically, it is also because he values love so much that he is willing to allow Anna to go to another.

 

A drawing of a young boy and a woman out at sea. The boy is swimming, while the woman sits atop a dock. She is wearing a red dress and has a drumhead for a face. A steam-powered ship can be seen in the background.
American indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel released their second, and final, full length studio album in 1998 called In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. The muted color palette and lady with a drum for a head establish the album’s understatedly odd tone.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Another of my favorite bands, Neutral Milk Hotel’s album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is a perfect fall album from its cover design to cathartically weird musical direction. The track In the Aeroplane Over the Sea discusses the ephemeral qualities of childhood, beauty, and life. The lyrics express,

“What a beautiful dream / That could flash on the screen / In a blink of an eye and be gone from me / Soft and sweet / Let me hold it close and keep it here with me”.

The almost grating melody encapsulates the song’s bitter nostalgia.

 

Harness Your Hopes by Pavement

This acerbic track rebelliously expresses defiance in the face of failing hopes. These 1997 lyrics bring up the disconcerting state of American politics as well as the simple pitfalls of relationships. Pavement advice to not “telegraph your passes, you’ll end up with molasses”, warning listeners to not reveal themselves fully or else they will halt relationships. The lyrics are absolutely hilarious, brilliantly bordering the line between ridiculousness and poignant critique. With the beginning of the school year, I think there is a level of bitterness at losing the freedom of the summer and becoming weighed down by work for the foreseeable future. With scathing lyrics, Harness Your Hopes perfectly encapsulates the rebellious spirit that we can all put on in an attempt to hide our insecurity. Refusing to let sentimentality enter the melody, the track ends with the neutrally sad

“the harness made of hopes, the lovers on the ropes”.

 

Us by Regina Spektor

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Cover art for Us by Regina Spector released in 2003.

trembling vibrato utilized by Regina Spektor, paired with the soaring orchestral arrangement makes me feel as if I’ve been transported to a cathedral every time I hear this song. The echoing quality of the song reminds me of damp, red leaves on glistening pavement. This song is perfect for a disillusioned city dweller or student. As the school year begins again, there is a special sort of catharsis in listening to a song discussing education gone wrong. Spektor sings that

“We’re living in a den of thieves / Rummaging for answers in the pages/ … / And it’s contagious”.

This chorus is brilliant, from rhyming pages with contagious for a deliciously satisfying effect to the eternally relatable visual of “rummaging” for answers in books and academia.

 

Two-Headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel

Just like all of their best tracks, Neutral Milk Hotel’s Two-Headed Boy shines with its painfully nostalgic lyrics and innovatively grating vocalization. As our daylight shrinks, the simple lyrics “The sun it has passed, now it’s blacker than black” are painfully relevant. The lyrics offer faulty consolation, saying

“There’s no reason to grieve / The world that you need is wrapped in gold silver sleeves / Left beneath Christmas trees in the snow / And I will take you and leave you alone / Watching spirals of white softly flow / Over your eyelids and all you did”.

These lyrics are truly beautiful, using the imagery of snow to express how to accept and realize the beauty of life even after the sun has passed. This morose song is all the more painful for its glimmers of hope.

 

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Cover art for R.E.M.’s single Nightswimming. Warner Bros. copyright.

Nightswimming by R.E.M.

Nightswimming is a masterclass in how to create an atmosphere through music. Michael Stipe’s iconically distinctive voice pulses against the dissonant instrumentation. The song is quintessentially autumnal, establishing the scene with lyrics like

“Nightswimming, remembering that night / September’s coming soon / I’m pining for the moon”.

“Pining for the moon” is such an elegantly bewitching lyric, capturing the mystical whimsy of the witches and pagan holidays associated with fall. The song discusses the sacredness of controlling how you reveal yourself, saying

“Nightswimming deserves a quiet night / I’m not sure all these people understand / It’s not like years ago / The fear of getting caught / Of recklessness and water / They cannot see me naked”

With the number of acquaintances we must interact with daily growing exceptionally for most in the fall, this notion of being misunderstood and resulting desire to not be seen naked is incredibly relatable. So is the motif of mundane repetition, with lines like

“these things, they go away / Replaced by everyday”.

Nightswimming is so alluring because it worships the freedom and unclothing nature of nightswimming, while simultaneously rebelling against the forced vulnerability of society. With incredibly subtle didacticism, this song tells listeners about their right to control who they reveal their vulnerability to. Nightswimming perfectly promotes the cozy freedom of privacy.

 

Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjpF8ukSrvk
Pink Floyd

The beginning of fall can sometimes make me feel like I am living life in circles, repeating the same four seasons every year and not, I fear, learning anything new at all. Pink Floyd addressed this exact fear of stagnation in Wish You Were Here. The climatic lyrics exclaim,

“We’re just two lost souls / Swimming in a fish bowl / Year after year / Running over the same old ground / What have we found? / The same old fears / Wish you were here”.

This song calls out the listener, questioning man’s ability to accurately perceive the world:

“So, so you think you can tell / Heaven from hell? / Blue skies from pain? / Can you tell a green field / From a cold steel rail? / A smile from a veil?”

This attack is a perfect reminder for the beginning of any academic journey, portraying the danger of thinking you are right about everything.

 

Peace Train by Cat Stevens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sdq4T3iRV80
Yusuf / Cat Stevens

I’ve employed a semi pessimistic view of the fall and its herald of the new school year so far in this piece, but despite this season signaling the end of spring it is also a beginning. An entire new year of learning and growth and rebirth is underway, and there is hope in the endless possibilities of evolution. In Cat Stevens’ euphoric Peace Train, this exact feeling is expressed. In his famously warm tone, Stevens sings

“Oh, I’ve been smiling lately / Dreaming about the world as one / And I believe it could be / Someday it’s going to come”.

There is something to be said about the communities that are regained in the fall, from academia to extracurriculars. I almost always dread the long and dreary winter to come, but Peace Train settles the soul, brightly announcing, “‘Cause out on the edge of darkness / There rides the peace”, reminding us that we can find hopeful sunshine inside of ourselves, no matter the season.

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About the Contributor
Katie Cavolo, Journalist and Newscaster
Katie Cavolo is a senior at Darien High School who began writing for Neirad in 2022. You can find her dancing ballet as a member of the Darien Arts Center Senior Company, leading DHS's Current Literary Magazine as Co Editor in Chief, or hanging out with her friends and family. Katie loves writing, reading, watching movies, and listening to music. Her favorite bands are The Beatles and Pink Floyd. Her favorite childhood movies are The Parent Trap and Ella Enchanted.

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