FEUILLES MORTES, Les

Latest update on 10/11/2016

Artist: Orch. de la Société des Concerts des Conservatoires
Author: Joseph Kosma
Label: Pathé Marconi
Year: 1946

In film Les Portes de la nuit, Roger Desamieres conducting. The tune is all over that movie: on harmonica by a Parisian clochard, hummed by Yves Montand, sung by co-star Natalie Nattier and there's a jazz version by Aimé Barelli.

Covers:

1948:

Cora Vaucaire [first recording, for Le Chant du Monde; vocal version]

1948:

Yves Montand

1948:

Jacqueline François [in short movie]

1949:

Juliette Gréco

1949:

Dany Dauberson

1950:

Jo Stafford [probably the oldest English version as Autumn Leaves; translated by Johnny Mercer]

1950:

Bing Crosby [idem; no hit]

1950:

Mitch Miller [idem]

1950:

Edith Piaf [French and English version]

1951:

Artie Shaw

1955:

Nat King Cole [in film Autumn Leaves, once a French poem, now a Hollywood film; he also cut a French version in '65]

1955:

Johnny Mercer [vocal: Helen O'Connell]

1955:

Roger Williams [still as Autumn Leaves; instrumental n°1 US]

1955:

Ahmad Jamal

1955:

Anny Gould

1956:

Frank Sinatra

1956:

Stephane Grappelli

1956:

Enoch Light [sampled afterwards]

1956:

Doris Day

1957:

Duke Ellington

1958:

Cannonball Adderley with Miles Davis

1960:

Ames Brothers

1962:

Everly Brothers

1965:

Gene Pitney

1966:

Barbra Streisand

1966:

Manfred Mann

1968:

Sylvie Vartan [melody used in Maritza; sued successfully by Kosma for plagiarism]

1969:

Paul Desmond

1978:

Grace Jones

1980:

Stan Getz

1980:

Toots Thielemans

1981:

Will Tura [as Herfstsymfonie]

1983:

Waso

1983:

Willie Nelson

1984:

Tito Puente

1990:

Placido Domingo

1992:

Ute Lemper

1994:

Coldcut

1995:

Rickie Lee Jones

1996:

Eva Cassidy

1997:

Paula Cole [in film Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, because of this Johnny Mercer translation]

1999:

Jo Lemaire

2006:

RJD2 [Enoch Light sample in A Beautiful Mine; afterwards used in French soap commercial]

2006:

Andrea Bocelli

2009:

Iggy Pop [in French]

2010:

Eric Clapton [as Autumn Leaves]

2013:

Mark Lanegan [idem]

2015:

Bob Dylan

One of the strongest lost love verses ever recorded, a Jacques Prévert poem on a Joseph Kosma tune. It all started with a melody composed for a pas-de-deux in ballet piece Le Rendez-vous, created by Roland Petit's danse company in 1945 (stage decorated by Picasso). Moved to tears, Marcel Carné used the storyline for a film script, which he directed as Les Portes de la nuit. For the leading parts he had Marlène Dietrich and Jean Gabin in mind but they both declined; Gabin because Dietrich did. No Dietrich meant no pas-de-deux tune, as Kosma wanted la Dietrich to sing it, with the Prévert poem for lyrics. What survived were these early instrumentals and these cut-off vocal versions by Yves Montand and Natalie Nattier, both standing in for Gabin & Dietrich. The film is long forgotten, the melody not at all. Early in '48 it was first cut by Cora Vaucaire, a lesser known Rive Gauche chansonnière, except for being the first to record Les Feuilles mortes. That's when Montand recorded his version, followed by Jacqueline François whose '49 version was filmed while autumn leaves were falling; call it the first French clip. Triggering a chain reaction: Juliette Greco and Edith Piaf adopted it, the latter even in English. Then there was this memorable live version by Yves Montand at the Etoile in Paris, a recital recorded and released in full, confirming both the singer's and the song's reputation. With 2 million records sold, the version by Roger Williams became the first instrumental hit in America. Many jazz versions followed and so did Hollywood. Autumn Leaves became a movie, with Nat King Cole singing the title song. Serge Gainsbourg mentions the song in his La Chanson de Prévert and the leaves keep on falling.

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