Sunday Autumn Morning in Washington Square Park, with notes about the song "Autumn in New York"

Sing it, people. You know the song. "It's autumn in New York." Walking around the city this season, in what looks to be one of the most splendid foliage seasons of recent memory, the song just can't be helped. The title line is brilliant, with its descending notes like falling autumn leaves.

Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square Park, facing west

Vernon Duke (1903-1969), né Vladimir Dukelsy, wrote the music and lyrics for "Autumn in New York," the jazz standard that originated in the 1934 Broadway musical Thumbs Up!. The lyrics tie the sight of autumn in New York with a wistful sense of home in the big city, "the promise of new love," and a grateful acceptance for the ways things are, even when mingled with pain. No wonder Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Holiday, Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Tormé, and a hundred of other crooners wanted to record such a song. The notes themselves were enough for the likes of Charlie Parker and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square Park, looking south. The new World Trade Center in the distance.

Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square North. The building in the middle was Edward Hopper's home and studio.

Billie Holiday, the first to record "Autumn in New York," completely mastered the balanced tone and sentiment of the song. In this recording, Oscar Peterson is glittering on the piano.



Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square Park, north side of park.

Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square Arch. The Empire State Building can be seen through the arch.

OK. Ella Fitzgerald can pull it off, too, with her voice like smoky maple syrup. And she's got Louis with her.

Let's take it out on their version.



"It's good to live it again." Isn't it?

Washington Square Park, Sunday morning
Washington Square Park, east side.

Images of Washington Square Park from Sunday morning, November 13, 2011.

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