Songs You May Have Missed #100

Hero & Heroine

Strawbs: “Autumn” (1974)

Here, for the first time, I won’t shy away from that dreaded word so overused in the appraisal of music: “underrated”. Because while plenty of 70’s progressive rock displayed more complexity or virtuosity, none exhibited more sheer beauty than the best of David Cousins’ compositions–yet he and his band are anything but household names, even to those who grew up listening to the music of the era.

strawbs

“Autumn”, from Strawbs’ great 1974 Hero and Heroine LP, has three distinct movements. The first (instrumental) section, “Hero’s Theme”, sets the mood: somber, mournful. Part two, “Deep Summer’s Sleep” finds Cousins wistfully contemplating the approach of autumn in beautifully poetic style. Part three, “The Winter Long” is sung by Dave Lambert, whose voice is more suited to the romantic sentiment of the final portion, and it concludes with climactic unison singing and swelling Mellotron. I’m pretty comfortable calling this one a masterpiece, from a great band in the prime of their career.

Strawbs evolved during the ’70’s from folk to folk-rock to baroque progressive rock as their lineup and focus shifted. But the inspired vision of David Cousins remained at the core of their music throughout. I most heartily recommend Strawbs to anyone who at all appreciates art rock from any era. One of my two or three favorite bands. Very underrated!

I sense Autumn coming on
The mist has hung low all day
Small birds gather  on the wing
Preparing to make their way.

The trees begin to show
A  trace of brown among the green
Bringing back the memories
That only you  and I have seen.

I sense Autumn coming on
The sun sinking red and  deep
The fires burning in the fields
As late Summer falls  asleep.

The leaves begin to scatter
As the North wind calls their  name
Folding gently back into
The silent earth from which they came.

Still waters flow
Sea breezes blow
Wild flowers  grow
Abundant at your feet.

Soft falling snow
Warm candle  glow
Flushed faces show
The pleasure when we meet.

Hold on to me,  I’ll hold on to you
The winter long I will always be with you.
Hold on to  me, I’ll hold on to you
I will be the one who will always see you through

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/09/28/songs-you-may-have-missed-481/

See also: https://edcyphers.com/2013/02/11/recommended-albums-38/

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kim
    May 12, 2012 @ 22:33:03

    Wow….loved the video and the song….could have been used in a movie…told such a beautiful story…very touching!

    Reply

  2. zackcyphers
    May 14, 2012 @ 11:08:11

    I’m so glad you wrote about this. I think Autumn may be one of my favorite songs by this sincerely under appreciated and way too little known band. Of all the more progressive 70s rock bands, their “suite” is one of the best musical compositions of its type. Every section is as cleverly laid out as a symphony and the band shared vocal duties to match the changing tone of the piece. There are so many things I like about this song, and you’ve touched on many already! The opening signals the start of some kind of dark epic (perhaps our hero is a tragic hero?) while the Mellotron throughout somehow conveys melancholy. The interplay between the acoustic and electric guitars intertwine like the the Tristan/Isolde lovers this alluded to in the “text” of this album. Finally, I have to admit that Lambert’s sandpapery, tender crooning in “The Winter Long” strikes a chord with me every time. The harmonies blend the vocal talents in this band into an deepening, emotional happy ending for the characters (and perhaps for the listener and whomever he has in mind whilst he listens to this song).
    Wonderful.

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Songs You May Have Missed #200 « ED CYPHERS
  4. Trackback: Songs You May Have Missed #481 | Ed Cyphers

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