As The Leaves Let Go: Travel Playlist For An Autumn Day

autumn travel playlist

“Fall” is not a season in New Zealand; it’s always Autumn. 

Here in Los Angeles, we call it by it’s shorter name, though it feels less like a season and more like a state of mind.

Fall: an action, a sense of movement. To travel now is to challenge the tenure of brick- and sunflower-colored leaves, to hug the shadow of Canadian geese as they V south. I feel like you see the world in a vulnerable way, with all its makeup off.

So if you’re ready to remove summer’s rosy shades, plug this autumn travel playlist into your iPod and head toward the nearest fading treeline…


Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man Alive – Start your trip with this modern minstrel, as he croons about crow moons and storm clouds. “I live until the call… / Yes, I’ll be leaving in the fall.”

California Dreamin’ – The Beach Boys – The original The Mamas & The Papas tune might reference winter, but it’s wishing for the same cheerful sun that disappears in autumn. Headed to California? No matter. Nothing a little 80’s saxophone solo can’t fix.

Wherever Is Your Heart I Call Home – Brandi Carlile – It’s a different kind of falling that haunts this song – the kind that happens when we have no love, no home to ground us. Whether you’re out searching for a new place, or returning to an old one, “God forgive our minds / we were born to roam.”

Boston – Augustana – “I think I’ll start it over / where no one knows my name / I’ll get out of California / I’m tired of the weather.” After all, everything’s changing right now, and who says you can’t change with it? Winter’s on its way, you can wipe the slate clean and start over, too…

In Thee – Blue Oyster Cult – Best known for their cow bell (see the Saturday Night Live sketch), this 60s rock band created the perfect goodbye song for an autumn day. “Air-o-planes make strangers of us all,” and a cold chill comes without someone to wrap your arms around. But at least you have your dreams.

Days / This Time Tomorrow – Ray Davies / The Kinks – Arguably one of the most moving mash-ups this decade. An old Irish classic + a British Invasion lament = enough guitar and lyrical poetry to play on repeat until spring comes.

Beautiful Dawn – Wailin’ Jennys – “There’s only one way to mend a broken heart.” (And no, it’s not another 80s saxophone solo). But a fall road trip might be a good place to start.

Tangerine – Led Zepplin – Someone once told me that no playlist is a playlist without Zepplin. Sticking to that philosophy, here’s “Tangerine” – three easy-to-sing verses, mad instrumental riffs and bridges, a touch of autumn’s moody air. One minute time’s slipping away, the next an old lover brings it back.

It’s Too Late – Evermore – New Zealand-born band Evermore delivers an anthem for anyone who feels trapped. “Tuesday morning…pack my bags, I’m heading out the door / I left a box of memories lying on the floor.” It might just push your foot a bit harder on that pedal.

On A High – Duncan Sheik – Save this one for a big stretch of highway. Roll down the windows – after all, it’s not that cold out yet – and throw your head back. “Oh, there never will be no conspiracy of happiness.” Pure bliss music.

Arc of Time – Bright Eyes – Singer Conor Oberst addresses fall’s deeper meanings – death, the circle of life – with a surprisingly positive beat. So what if the grass, this playlist (and yes, you too), are moving toward The End? Embrace the journey! “Like a feather falling / it is still unknown.”

Which songs are on your autumn travel playlist? Let me know which tunes I’m missing!

Already on the road? Let this travel playlist lead you back home again. . .

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