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Autumn leaves (song)

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Autumn leaves (song)

"Autumn Leaves"
("Les feuilles mortes")
Music by Joseph Kosma
Lyrics by Jacques Prévert (French)
Johnny Mercer (English)
Published 1946
Written 1945
Original artist Yves Montand and Irène Joachim
Recorded by Jo Stafford, Edith Piaf, The Melachrino Strings, Nat King Cole, Eric Clapton

"Autumn Leaves" is a much-recorded popular song. Originally it was a 1945 French song "Les feuilles mortes" (literally "The Dead Leaves") with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, and the Hungarian title is "Hulló levelek" (Falling Leaves). Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced "Les feuilles mortes" in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la Nuit.[1]

Recordings and Covers

The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947 and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. "Autumn Leaves" became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer.

On December 24, 1950, French singer Edith Piaf sang both French and English versions of this song on the radio programme The Big Show, hosted by Tallulah Bankhead.[2]

The Melachrino Strings recorded an instrumental version of the song in London on August 18, 1950. It was released by EMI on the His Master's Voice label as catalogue number B 9952.

The film Autumn Leaves (1956) starring Joan Crawford featured the song, as sung by Nat King Cole, over the title sequence. The French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to this song in his own song "La chanson de Prévert".[3] Frank Sinatra included a popular version of the song on his 1956 album Where Are You?.

"Autumn Leaves" is the corps song of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.[4]

Andy Williams released a version of the song on his 1959 album, Lonely Street. The Coasters released a version of the song on their 1960 album One by One.[5] Al Hirt released a version on his 1965 album, They're Playing Our Song.[6] The British Invasion band Manfred Mann released a rock version on their 1966 album As Is.[7] Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the 1968 RCA Victor album I'm a Fool to Want You.[8] Raquel Bitton recorded a version in 2000 that appears on her album Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf. Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the 2000 album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show.[9]

Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou, recorded the song for her first 1996 album, In A Jazz Mood. The song also appears on Iggy Pop's 2009 album Préliminaires as the opening track.

On the 1950s US television series Your Hit Parade, in which the Top 7 songs of the week were performed, the song was performed in several episodes during 1955. In one episode, Thelma "Tad" Tadlock danced to an instrumental version of the song, while in another episode, Gisele MacKenzie sang the French version (though with the final line in English).

Chart appearances

In 1955 Roger Williams made the song a number-one hit in the United States, the only piano instrumental to reach number one.[10]

Structure and chord progression

"Autumn Leaves"
Sample of a recording of "Autumn Leaves" by Eva Cassidy from the album Live at Blues Alley (1996)

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song is in AABC form.[11] "Autumn Leaves" offers a popular way for beginning jazz musicians to become acquainted with jazz harmony as the chord progression consists almost solely of ii-V-I and ii-V sequences which are typical of jazz. It was originally, and is most commonly, performed in the key of E minor, but is also played in G minor and other keys. Eva Cassidy's version (clip on the right) is played in B-flat minor with a capo on the first fret.

Its iv7-VII7-III-VIM7-ii(half-diminished)7-V7-i chord progression is an example of the circle-of-fifths progression.[12]


External links

  • "Autumn Leaves" at
  • "Autumn Leaves" - Lead sheet at
  • Template:MetroLyrics song

Template:Al Hirt

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