“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).
Here there is the arrangement for Violin performed by André Rieu:
Yves Montand (with Irène Joachim) introduced “Les feuilles mortes” in 1946 in the film Les Portes de la nuit.
Oh ! je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes
Des jours heureux où nous étions amis.
En ce temps-là la vie était plus belle,
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui.
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle.
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié…
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Et le vent du nord les emporte
Dans la nuit froide de l’oubli.
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié
La chanson que tu me chantais.
C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble.
Toi, tu m’aimais et je t’aimais
Et nous vivions tous les deux ensemble,
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais.
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment,
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable
les pas des amants désunis.
— Translation —
Oh I would like you so much to remember
The joyful days when we were friends.
At that time, life was more beautiful
And the sun burned more than it does today.
Fallen leaves can be picked up by the shovelful.
You see, I have not forgotten…
Fallen leaves can be picked up by the shovelful,
So can memories and regrets.
And the north wind takes them
Into the cold night of oblivion.
You see, I have not forgotten
The song you used to sing me.
This song is like us.
You used to love me and I used to love you
And we used to live together,
You loving me, me loving you.
But life separates lovers,
Pretty slowly, noiselessly,
And the sea erases on the sand
The separated lovers’ footprints.
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. There is also a Japanese version called Kareha (枯葉) sung by Nat King Cole in his Japanese album version and 高英男 (Hideo Kou).
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. 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. Frank Sinatra included a popular version of the song on his 1956 album Where Are You?. 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).
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.
Al Hirt released a version on his 1965 album, They’re Playing Our Song. Italian-American tenor Sergio Franchi recorded his version on the 1968 RCA Victor album I’m a Fool to Want You. The British Invasion band Manfred Mann released a rock version on their 1966 album As Is.
Ben Webster and the Georges Arvanitas Trio released a version in 1972 on their Autumn Leaves album. Raquel Bitton recorded a version in 2000 that appears on her albumRaquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf. Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the 2000 album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show.
Patricia Routledge sings it on her 1975 album Presenting Patricia Routledge Singing the Classics.
“Autumn Leaves” is the corps song of the Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.
The Electronic duo Coldcut recorded a cover of the song for their 1993 album Philosophy, featuring guest vocalist Janis Alexander on vocals. Greek-Cypriot recording artist Alexia Vassiliou recorded the song for her first 1996 album, In a Jazz Mood. A version by Eva Cassidy is one of the highlights of her seminal live album Live at Blues Alley (1996).
Raquel Bitton recorded a version in 2000 that appears on her album Raquel Bitton sings Edith Piaf. The French songwriter Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to this song in his own song “La chanson de Prévert”. The song also appears on Iggy Pop’s 2009 album Préliminaires as the opening track and Jason Kouchak’s 2010 album Comme d’Habitude.Jerry Lee Lewis released a version that can be found on the 2000 album The Jerry Lee Lewis Show. British blues/rock guitarist Eric Clapton recorded a cover of “Autumn Leaves” for his 2010 album, Clapton.
|Birth name||József Kozma|
|Born||22 October 1905|
|Died||7 August 1969 (aged 63)
|Birth name||André Léon Marie Nicolas Rieu|
|Born||1 October 1949 (age 64)|
|Labels||Denon Records , Philips|
|Stradivarius violin (1667)|
image by Peter Diamond