Shorter days, a crispness in the air, a new season of television debuts. First and 10, the World Series, ghosts and goblins. The ash, birch and aspen trees aglow with their autumn leaves. It’s fall in the northern hemisphere — far and away my favorite time of the year.
If you’ve been down to Green Valley Park lately, you can see and actually hear autumn in the air. The other day, I counted 20 honking, early returning Canada geese.
By early winter, that number should easily swell to nearly 200. And as I write this article, I’m watching the bald eagle, who also just returned to his Green Valley home, circle the lake in search of his noon-time meal.
I have a feeling the eagle somehow knows the trout stocking schedule.
One of my favorite songs of the fall season is “Autumn Leaves,” a 1945 French tune that was originally composed as “Les Feuilles Mortes” (literally meaning “The Dead Leaves”), with music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert. American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics in 1947 and singer Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version.
“Autumn Leaves” tells the mournful story of a love lost at the end of summer. The singer laments, “Since you went away, the days grow long and soon I’ll hear old winter’s song. But I miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall.”
It was in 1955 that “Autumn Leaves” enjoyed prolific success on the American charts. No less than six different artists — Steve Allen, Mitch Miller, Jackie Gleason, Victor Young, the Ray Charles Singers and this week’s music trivia artist — scored hits with their versions on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
The following year, in 1956, the film “Autumn Leaves” debuted, in which Joan Crawford starred and featured the song, “Autumn Leaves,” as sung by Nat King Cole.
This week’s music trivia question is: Who was the pianist, who in 1955, made his instrumental version of “Autumn Leaves” a No. 1 hit in the United States, the only piano instrumental to reach the top spot and remain in that position for four weeks.
This artist was born Louis Weertz on Oct. 1, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska. He learned to play the piano by the age of 3 and earned his first recording contract by being a winner on Arthur Godfrey’s “Talent Scouts.”
His hit “Autumn Leaves” began a streak of 22 hit singles for this artist that ran through 1969. He had two other Top 10 hits, “Near You” in 1958 and “Born Free” in 1966. He was equally successful on the album charts, racking up a total of 38 hit records between 1956 and 1972, including the Top 10 albums “Songs of the Fabulous Fifties” (1957), “Till” (1958), “Maria” (1962), and “Born Free” (1966).
Is this famous pianist A) Roger Whittaker, B) Roger Williams, C) Roger Miller, or D) Roger Maris?
This week, if you are the fourth caller and have the right answer, you’ll win a CD of your choice. You name the music and I’ll put it together — for you or for someone special.
Now, let’s see how we did with last week’s music trivia question, which asked the reader to match three well-known artists (two rock groups and one big band orchestra leader) with their classic hits.
The correct matches were: “Bohemian Rhapsody” - Queen, “In The Mood” - Glenn Miller and “Hotel California” - The Eagles.
Congratulations to this past week’s second-time music trivia winner, Steven “Pete” LeMonier, who won a pair of tickets to this past Tuesday’s Edgar Cruz concert at Payson High School, courtesy of the Tonto Community Concert Association. Pete is the head chef at Good Samaritan Society Majestic Rim and a longtime Payson resident.
Lastly — Attention teens! On Monday, Halloween night, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Southwest Behavioral Health will be holding a “teen dance” in the Senior Center parking lot — just one eerie block east of Parks & Rec’s “spook”-tacular haunted house in the Oxbow Saloon.
The dance, for teens 13 through 17, will feature the current top 40 hits and lots of Halloween favorite songs, a costume contest with a $30 Walmart gift certificate for the winner; a skit performed by the agency’s Community Kids Youth Leadership group and a “dance-off” dance contest.
DJ Craig — Phone: 468-1482
Web site: www.DJCraigInPayson.com