Five gloomy songs to wallow to while it rains in the North State


Melissa Joseph

Illustration by Melissa Joseph.

Autumn is a favorite season for many people. It brings cooler weather that’s especially welcome in Chico after sweltering summer temperatures in the high 90s and triple digits. There’s always a whirlwind of falling leaves in gorgeous red, orange and gold hues — something especially fascinating to Southern California transplants like myself. Pumpkin and apple-cinnamon flavors and scents have become defining signs of the advent of fall. And of course, Halloween and Thanksgiving take place during this season.

In honor of all those things, here are five songs to celebrate the arrival of fall … Oh wait, most of these songs are sad. Well, if you’re struggling to figure out a costume for Halloween, maybe this playlist will inspire you to overdo your black eyeliner and dig out those skin-tight skinny jeans and go to that small, socially-distanced Halloween party as the ghost of mid-2000s emo culture — and then get called a poser because none of these songs actually fit the emo genre, they’re just really sad. Hello, seasonal depression, my old friend. 

“Sweater Weather” by Slaves

This song was originally written and recorded by The Neighbourhood for their 2013 debut album, “I Love You.” Slaves’ cover came out in 2014 and was featured on the collaborative compilation album “Punk Goes Pop Volume 6.” Slaves frontman Jonny Craig (formerly of Dance Gavin Dance, Emarosa and the supergroup Isles and Glaciers) is known for elaborate, soaring vocals and that really comes through in this song. Lyrically, this song is great for fall because it discusses sweater weather, cuddle weather and beyond—two things everyone loves about fall. The band released their latest album in August, titled “To Better Days,” as their last work that will be released under the name Slaves. The band’s new name has not been announced.

“Cold Desert” by Kings of Leon

This song has an intriguing backstory. In short, lead singer and songwriter Caleb Followill devised this song when he was drunk and wandered into the desert alone and then recorded it the same night. Later, the only part he remembered coming up with was “Jesus don’t love me. / No one ever carried my load. / I’m too young to feel this old.” This part of the song is especially poignant because Followill and his bandmates (his brothers and one of their cousins) grew up in the Pentecostal church and he has said he regrets saying Jesus doesn’t love him. Listen to this one if you want to turn your mood as gray as the sky on the first day of rain.

“Going Away To College” by Blink 182

As the title suggests, this song is about someone who moves away from home to go to college and tries to work out a long-distance relationship with their girlfriend. The song opens with a perfect summation of the start of fall and a strained relationship: “Please take me by the hand. / It’s so cold out tonight. / I’ll put blankets on the bed. / I won’t turn out the light. / Just don’t forget to think about me and I won’t forget you. / ‘I’ll write you once a week,’ she said.”

“No Rain” by Blind Melon

This is a laid-back song from 1995 that’s good for quiet weekends at home when “all I can do is read a book to stay awake,” as the speaker laments. This song’s lyrical content may represent themes of depression and boredom, but the music is upbeat enough to dance to.

“Halloween” by The Gaslight Anthem

Disclaimer: this is not some slightly-goofy, spooky song that channels “Monster Mash” vibes like you were (probably) hoping. Yes, this is another sad one, cue the stereotypical horror-movie villain laughter. This song is from The Gaslight Anthem’s 2014 album “Get Hurt,” which was written around the time of lead singer and chief lyricist Brian Fallon’s divorce. The album is full of emotional pain and grief. This song is laden with metaphors about being hurt and trying to hide it from everyone. The speaker sees his ex at a Halloween party and the chorus poses a question that comes up for everyone, every Halloween, at least once during the night. “Who are you dressed up as?” But the answers to this question in the song are heart wrenching. “And who are you supposed to be? / You look like heaven tonight. / Me, I’m a tomb, / A corpse in a suit, / Trying to look a little alive” and “Who are you supposed to be? / Yeah, you look just like my love. / Who are you supposed to be? / Are you dressed just like my love for Halloween?”

Kelsey Ogle can be reached at [email protected]