As I type this at my desk in Seattle-ish, autumn is in full force: winds whipping through the eight zillion pramillion trees that make even our urban areas feel wild and majestic, leaves of every color crowd-surfing on the currants, sprays and slaps of rain spattering on my window, water puddles forming and filling on the ground for the express purpose of being my dog's favorite water bowls.

I hate autumn.

OK, sure, sure...it's very beautiful, all this color and movement and shiny wet, I agree. But for me, fall is just a soggy reminder that my favorite season, SUMMER, is gone yet again and won't reappear until July. I'm a sunshine kind of girl, and there's nothing I find charming about driving in the dark and the rain hoping one of those giant trees doesn't fall on me, having the dog track in mud for months, and chokingly-sweet Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Top that off with the bad old mental remnants of autumn = OH GOD NO I HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN, and all the pretty leaves in the world don't really make it swing for me.

But the fall is a good thing to write about, rich in imagery and melancholic change. Our friends, Professional Songwriters, know this and have provided us with some swell songs about the season, ten of which I shall share with you from my personal archives. I'm being very strict in that each song must have the word "autumn" in the title, mainly for the fact that it takes too long to figure out if the "fall" songs are about autumn as opposed to actually falling, figuratively or literally. I have to devote more time these days to wiping the dog's paws off, you know. Let us begin.

"Autumn Almanac," The Kinks 

Of course, this song would be first on my list, taken from the absolutely perfect "Something Else By The Kinks" album. We find the Kinks here at their sweetest, English vaudevillian best, with starring (and uncredited for decades) harmonies by Ray Davies then-wife, Rasa. Because it's Ray Davies, midway through the song an element of claustrophobic discontent appears as our protagonist proclaims "This is my street/And I'm never gonna leave it/And I'm always gonna 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...". But with some highly jaunty "la la la"'s, the darkness is swept away, at least for awhile.

I have an extra-special memory related to this song. I was discussing the recording of it one night in a nearly-deserted and dank hotel bar with Dave Davies many years ago, and he asked me if I would sing it with him, right there and then. After I picked up the pieces of my blown mind, I did so, and will never forget it, sitting across from the actual recording artist in dingy blue club chairs, singing such a wonderful song together.

"Autumn Leaves," Nat King Cole

This list would be a SHAM without including a version of composer Johnny Mercer's standard, "Autumn Leaves," and I chose Nat King Cole's. Cole always knew how to deliver a melancholy song, cradling the melody in such a nuanced way that the emotion subtly threads through the listener's heart: an infusion rather than a soaking, if you will. The cascading notes remind us of the falling leaves themselves, tumbling from high to low.

"Autumn Is Your Last Chance," Robyn Hitchcock

Another gorgeous autumn song from another quirky British artist, from another absolutely perfect album, "I Often Dream Of Trains." The arrangement is simple, acoustic and sparse, spotlighting the reflective lyrics. We feel the solitude of the narrator, walking amongst the fall beauty in his surroundings, seeing it, feeling it, but unable to enjoy it for missing someone to share it with.

"Autumn Sweater," Yo La Tengo

This song could be interpreted in polar opposite ways: a couple either at the awkward beginning or awkward ending of a relationship. It's hard to tell if the narrator is critical or fond of his partner's "autumn sweater," but I think the use of this single-shot of fall imagery tell us that no matter what, change is coming, whether the couple likes it or not.

"Autumn," Joanna Newsom

Newsom does not shy away from composing long pieces, which unfold at their own pace, giving the listener the feeling that they are precisely as long as they must be.  That, and exquisitely-angelic vocals remind me of Kate Bush's earliest work, a fusion of classical and British folk traditions. "Here, in a row of silent dove-grey days..." Newsom quietly tells a tale of loss and longing in poetic language that is unashamedly elegant and mysterious, in times that are most often neither.

"My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion," The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips have often examined the uniquely-human gift/burden of knowing that life is finite, and celebrate a humanist view: make the most of the one life you have right here, right now. Whatever your own personal views, it's a good rule to live by and one that few people actually accomplish. "My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion" is a delicate and wistful ode to appreciating the cycles and patterns of life, and embracing all of what is around you.

"Autumn in New York," Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

Two incomparable jazz masters take on a slow, sexy love letter to Manhattan, making me want to book a flight right now. There are so many, many songs written about New York City -- some passionate paeans, some snarky and sarcastic -- but here's the thing: The Big Apple inspires creativity like no other place on earth, no matter the season. Listening to this, I can imagine myself walking arm-in-arm with a friend through Central Park, crunching leaves beneath my feet, glancing up at the giant buildings in the distance, and feeling like magic is always happening there, somewhere, because it really is.

"Autumn's Child," Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band

Captain Beefheart makes The Flaming Lips sound, well, as Safe As Milk. The stamp of Zappa is all over this song, of course, with odd timings and orchestral punctuations. The Captain's growl/shout is nicely incongruous considering the poignancy of the lyrics, remembering falling for a "cornhusk hair" girl met at a harvest party ten years past.

"The Autumn Carnival," The Dandy Warhols

The Dandy Warhols have gotten more out of four chords than any other band I can think of, save for the dear ol' Ramones. OK, so this sounds like a rewrite of Blur's "Song 2" sans "woo hoo"'s and if Damon Albarn had a sore throat, but there's nothing wrong with that in my book. Courtney Taylor-Taylor takes us for a spooky trip through a fall freakshow, but we aren't entirely sure where that is located -- out in the world or inside his mind.

"Autumn Waltz," Tony Bennett

Finally, in honor of the deeply wonderful Tony Bennett, playing this very evening at Seattle's Paramount Theater and whom I've had the honor of photographing twice, we end with the "Autumn Waltz." I wish I could be there tonight, waltzing with the coolest 88-year-old that ever was (outside of my mom), but since I cannot I think I will choose to take a lesson from him: be young at heart, be creative, give of your time and talents generously, and take good care of yourself, and your Fall may extend in swirling, beautiful color for many, many years, Winter be damned.