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Autumn in Jayne

Hot on the heels of “Sheila Can Do (It)” comes another artifact from Rivers Cuomo’s unfinished 1997 sideproject, the Boston-based alt.country of Homie. While many of those songs were old demos and scrapped song ideas that Cuomo was repurposing, this one, “Autumn in Jayne” (a.k.a. “Autumn Jane,” a.k.a. “Autumn and Jane” — both of which I prefer as the title, but we’re going by what’s in the Catalogue of Riffs here), is one of the latest-written songs from the project, written in 1997 itself. Which, all things considered, was a damn fine year for Cuomo: there’s the catchy bathroom humor of the oddball “Fun Time,” to the atmospheric space rock of “1000 Years,” to the perfect pop minimalism of “Lover In The Snow,” to the epic masterpiece “Rosemary” and its corollary “Baby.” Considering Cuomo was coming out of a very focused period of writing for the Songs From the Black Hole/Pinkerton arc, by all counts ’97 seems like Cuomo’s most varied and adventurous year of songwriting since at least 1993 — and a year that is easily on par with any other in the young songwriter’s early streak of brilliance. (We surprisingly have the majority of songs Cuomo wrote in 1997 in some rough form or another, though song titles like “Ol’ Backwater,” “La Belle Dame” and “They Called Him Sunshine” sure make one pine for the rest!)

Well, you can count Cuomo’s continued experiments in southern sun-kissed pop as yet more successes from the fertile year of 1997. While less ambitious than many of the aforementioned songs, “Autumn in Jayne” is an absolute homerun at what it attempts. This is breezy, late-summer pop music that hints at the wistful, fading season ahead. The lyrics are simple, but more simply phrased than simple-minded:

I don’t remember what you said to me
Was it you would, or that you wouldn’t be?
I gave you my lovin’ in the spring time
From then until now is such a long time

And all the dirty boys on the street are looking for a new game
Would you leave me with the same?
And all the pretty girls gonna try and tie them down
It’s autumn in Jayne

Gettin’ to rock up in the dancehall
On Saturday nights we had a real ball
I was so proud to be your boyfriend
But now we lost what we had then

I see the leaves are catching fire
The birds are flying from their homes
And all around the world is crying
‘Cause now I can’t go back to autumn in Jayne

Repetition aside, that’s the lyrics in the entirety right there. Pretty nice, right? There’s not a whole lot to read into or analyze, but the poetic simplicity in lines like “I see the leaves are catching fire / The birds are flying from their homes” is heartwarming — there’s something classic in the design and narrative of the tune, something a la Tom Petty or somesuch. Which fits quite nicely into the little musical framework Cuomo’s worked out here, with the bright acoustic riffing, the rodeo 2s-and-4s beat that the drums kick in with, the drawling harmonica solos, the subtle organ chords and sweet harmonies that give the latter half of the song a subtle lift, not to mention the pleasantly circular motion of the structure itself.

One wonders how a song this simply good could get so easily lost to the sands of time (only played live twice! never released in any form!), but that might as well be the underlying leitmotif of the entire Weezer/Cuomo saga. We can only hope that justice is served and this song is released in some fine form or another (Rivers’ demo, the Homie rehearsal tapes, or both), but as with many of the tunes from this era, we will have Jack Mergist and Ryan Rowland’s wonderful tribute version to sate our imaginations in the meantime.

46 Comments

  1. ThomYorke wrote:

    This was the first Homie song I ever heard back when the live Boston tapes first came out, and my jaw hit the floor the first time i heard it. This song is so well put together, and it’s melody just sticks in your head for hours.

    I couldn’t agree more that there’s just such a great vibe about Autmn &/in Jayne, the lyrics match up perfectly to the music here. Everything about it is so honest and simple, and it really strikes a chord with me, especially the whole little narritive of it.

    Even with a totally shitty recording, the song comes off really well. My fiance absolutely loves this tune too, and she’s no uber fan by any means. Speaking of uber fans, runners & Lifetaker really did a great job on this one.

    Rivers really had something good going in 1997-98, and this song is the poster child for the direction Rivers should have kept purusing.

    What the fuck was Rivers thinking not ever giving this song a proper release? How many more times am I going to type that last sentence regarding something from this era!

    *bangs head against wall*

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  2. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    How in god’s name does this not qualify as The Very Best?!?!

    It’s better than O Girl. It’s better than Worry Rock. The simplicity and comfort that this song achieves are what makes Rivers the songwriter that we all love, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better example of simple pop rock goodness than this. Weezer is great because it makes what otherwise would be corny cliches in song structure, lyrics, chord progressions, etc. into fresh, original, and enjoyable facets of great songs, and Autumn in Jayne is Rivers achieving this more than ever.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink
  3. s.o.s. wrote:

    JASON! settle down, boy…you’re letting your teenage hormones get the best of you. Although I do agree this is a damn good tune. What more can be said? Starting with The Blue Album and continuing up to ss2k, Rivers was writing to his full musical genius potential. The Homie and RCB era are on par with Blue/SFTBH/Pinkerton material, and Autumn in Jayne is no exception.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  4. Soyrev wrote:

    You all have me very nearly convinced that this might very well be TVB status. I wouldn’t put it above the “Worry Rock” cover (love that one), but it might very well be on par (or even a little bit better) than “O Girl” as you said, Jason. It’s really hard to decide without a proper Cuomo version to go off of (even the clearest live bootleg is pretty rudimentary), but if a few more voice their support I will definitely consider bumping this up into Weezer Valhalla.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm | Permalink
  5. ThomYorke wrote:

    Come now, Soy. See the light, and give this song the title it so clearly deserves.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  6. skiz wrote:

    You pretty much perfectly summed up how amazingly awesome Cuomo’s output was in 1997. It’s so sad to think what an amazing album he could have put together with these songs. I’m afraid i’m going to have to agree, this deserves “The Best Of” status (although i’d probably say that about almost every RCB/Homie song.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  7. runnersdialzero wrote:

    The title “Autumn in Jayne” perplexes me a bit, too. I have, however, wondered if it’s a reference to Anna Waronker’s “Adam in June” from the Poop Alley compilation, which also included the Rentals’ “Californa” and Anna was a member of that dog. which Weezer were friends with (Rachel Haden was in the band).

    Varz probably has at least a couple dozen unreleased tracks that are absolutely album worthy, but in the case of a few like “Autumn in Jayne”, it’s almost criminal that they didn’t make an album. Shit, we don’t even have a proper recording of this song, and it’s doubtful we will any time soon if ever.

    Thanks again for the shoutout to the tribute album, too 🙂

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 8:12 pm | Permalink
  8. sandwiches wrote:

    Nothing new to add here. Two thumbs up from me. Loved this sound. I can’t say much that hasnt already been said to vote it as a very best, but I definitely like it WAY more than O Girl, and i think most others would agree that if the latter deserves TVB status, then certainly AIJ does. God damn, i want every demo from 97 and 98. thats all i’ll ever need.

    also love the valhalla reference, soy. always reminds me of the immigrant song. keep up the great work on the site. I may not be able to comment much over the next year, but hopefully i’ll have time in afghanistan to develop more constructive discussion than the drunken, rambling post- bar thoughts i’ve been contributing so far.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 11:56 pm | Permalink
  9. sandwiches wrote:

    but theres nothing i love reading/thinking/talking about more during these hours than in-depth analysis of great weezer tunes.

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
  10. waitingandwaiting wrote:

    This is a perfect pop song, I don’t know how Rivers could right such a fresh, sweet gem like this and then dedicate the next 3 year to finding the perfect pop song formula =, in doing so rubbing all bits of life out the song, when he quite clearly had already hit it. Pop is a joyous celebration of fun music, everything which Autumn Jane encapsulates. I particularly love the harmonica work in this song. Its great to cruise to in summer, despite people calling the Green albums main draw. I don’t see this song failing commercially either, as to my knowledge country is a huge genre in America and this has great cross over ability.

    Also much credit to Jack who made me listen to this with his cover and appreciate it’s true glory.

    It’s just a really nice and sweet summer song.

    PS Sandwiches, just out of curiosity, what services are you in, if you don’t mind me asking?

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:23 am | Permalink
  11. sandwiches wrote:

    I’m a US Army captain. I’m looking forward to coming back next august with a bunch of songs to comment on, which hopefully includes a new Alone, never-before-heard pinkerton deluxe tracks, and album 7.

    I’m definitely taking a nice summer drive today with the HOMiE album spinning. thanks again to the A6 boardies who made that.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  12. ThomYorke wrote:

    GREAT point regarding the cross over commercial viability, “Waiting”. I hadn’t even considered that – there’s a wide range of radio stations that could have picked this up.

    Considering the popularity of his music is so important to Rivers, I’m surprised he couldn’t see the kind of potential this song had.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  13. ThomYorke wrote:

    Also, the title “Autmn IN Jayne” may be a metaphor of some kind symbolizing change? Beyond the one literal reference to Fall in the final verse, the song is also about change in the sense that it seems like Jayne’s attraction to the main character waivers from time to time.

    Perhaps Autmn “IN” Jayne is supporting the notion that it’s about that time of year again where her minds interest begins to wonder to someone else?

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink
  14. Soyrev wrote:

    Interesting insight into the title, Runners. It is an interesting little inversion of that Waronker title, which might not be a coincidence considering how tight they were…

    I like Thom’s idea, too.

    W&W: There’s a chance this could’ve been just the right intersection of styles for a minor cross-platform hit, but I think it’s more likely it would’ve fallen between the cracks.

    Still debating the Very Best status — hard without a good Rivers version to judge. And I really don’t know if I can put this one above “O Girl,” that song is hard pop rock perfection!

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  15. brado8 wrote:

    ‘Welcome to my country band…’

    Fantastic tune!

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  16. GuessWho wrote:

    I don’t think I’d give this Very Best status. It’s good, but there’s still much better material in Rivers’ catalogue. Even from just the Homie/RCB era, I consider Hot Tub, Lover in the Snow, Sheila Can Do (It), and 1000 Years better.

    It’s a good, catchy, pop song, don’t get me wrong, but that’s all it is, and compared to a real TVB song like Across the Sea or Falling for You it just doesn’t stand up.

    Wednesday, June 24, 2009 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  17. ThomYorke wrote:

    I think it stands up just fine; the only thing making that difficult to see is the quality of the recording.

    It speaks volumes about the quality of the song when all we have is a shitty live recording, yet, we’re still having this debate.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 7:52 am | Permalink
  18. OOS wrote:

    Yeah, i’d say Autumn In Jayne (and a lot of Homie tunes) are TVB worthy.

    Anyway, nice, fun little pop-rock-country piece here. I think that they could’ve easily put in some crunchy, classic Weezer guitars after the first verse and then have it open Green.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  19. Soyrev wrote:

    So far, I’m not really convinced…I mean, it’s a great song, but the only Very Best song I see it equaling right now is “Why Bother?” (which I am still not entirely convinced is Very Best status itself…it’s definitely a step down from the rest of Pinkerton). “Hot Tub” is a definite Very Best, and there are a few more songs from this era that I think really deserve it, but “Jayne” still hangs on the brink. Then again, it’s definitely a LOT better than some of its (very broad) Grand Playlist company, like KDDO or “Haunt You Every Day,” or “Don’t Pick On Me” for crying out loud.

    So I guess I’m back where I started. Confused!

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  20. HMC wrote:

    I’d say I agree with leaving this off TVB. However, if you leave Fun Time off of it then we may have a problem.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  21. ThomYorke wrote:

    Why Bother got me through some tough break ups – I don’t think I could ever give it less than Very Best status.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Permalink
  22. GuessWho wrote:

    I agree with ThomYorke on Why Bother?, there’s not a better song on Pinkerton to listen to if you happen to hate relationships at the moment.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  23. OOS wrote:

    To be honest, I think that everything from Blue/Pink deserves TVB status, and hopefully a good handful of the hiatus tracks as well. I can think of about 10, myself, this included, although its definitly not as good as Sheila Can Do It, and that didn’t make it, so consistencies sake I guess it shouldn’t be included.

    That being said, I think that about half of Homie deserves TVB, and, barring Little Sister, all the RCB tracks.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  24. ThomYorke wrote:

    Solution: Add Shelia AND Autumn to the Very Best list. Problem solved.

    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  25. Soyrev wrote:

    Perhaps at least one of them does deserve the distinction. “Jayne” edges out “Sheila” in terms of lyrical refinement, but the “Sheila” bridge provides more musical satisfaction than the entirety of “Jayne,” on most days. Hmmm…

    Tricky stuff, this Homie!

    Friday, June 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  26. Chuck wrote:

    what could have been..

    Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  27. MyNameIsJason wrote:

    Shelia and Jayne both deserve TVB.

    Reread my comment before. I dropped a shit ton of smart ass adjectives and stuff, and I think I made a good argument.

    Monday, June 29, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  28. OOS wrote:

    Yep, definitely. I mean, if this ans Sheila don’t get TVB, than no Homie could, and that’s just bad.

    Monday, June 29, 2009 at 10:41 am | Permalink
  29. Micah wrote:

    I think you are on to something with the Tom Petty reference. This song definitely would fit right in on Wildflowers or Highway Companion. Most of the Homie stuff does manage to come off hopeful and upbeat while remaining artful and poetic. Tom Petty excels at this, so the comparison works for me.

    Of course, it is difficult to write upbeat music without descending into the cliched. Just look at The Girl Got Hot! Doesn’t in any way cheapen a song like this one though.

    Monday, August 10, 2009 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  30. ThomYorke wrote:

    After hearing GGH and I’m Your Daddy, this song had better make the “Very Best” list STAT!

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink
  31. OOS wrote:

    So I was thinking about this the other day, and this could’ve quite easily been a great Weezer opener. I’m thinking that after the second chorus, some nice guitars build up into a nice wall of distortion, the song goes into the bridge/solo, and then the acoustic resumes for the final chorus. I think it would be really cool, though slightly un-fitting for Green.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  32. Soyrev wrote:

    Thom: Shitty new Weezer songs do not change the appraisal of the old ones! Though I assure you, the shitty new will be judged at their (shallow) face values…

    OOS: Definitely wouldn’t have fit on Green, but this is a great track 1 (which Cuomo knew…he started his solo sets with it). It would’ve sounded silly at the time, but after the past couple of years, I have to wonder why this band doesn’t just release certain albums “for the fans” and certain albums “for the masses.”

    Sure, Geffen would at first complain that this would “dilute the Weezer name,” but that’s nothing that Maladroit hasn’t actually done. And in the longrun, it’d be for the best: the hardcore fans would be sated, the critics wouldn’t have such a hard time swallowing the “Cuomo is still a genius, when he wants to be!” pill (which is too big to fit in most people’s mouths by now), and would make the cashcow albums easier to countenance as a sort of “compromise” for the hardcore fans and easier to digest for the mindless pop masses who wish an album full of “Beverly Hills” could be real.

    Let’s use the past couple years as a great example: seeing how Red and Rad will only be separated by about 15 months, and they seem to be of similar formulas, they’re roughly interchangeable. Why not put all the “Troublemakers” and “Girl Got Hots” on one record, and stuff like “Angel,” “Sweeney,” “Pig,” “Prettiest Girl” on another? The “art record” would reaffirm crtics and fans’ belief in this band as a viable creative force (I played “Angel” through “The Spider” for a Pinkerton fan who gave up on Weezer sometime around Maladroit, and he was going absolutely crazy), and the “pop record” would not only sell major records but also, interestingly enough, only reaffirm that Cuomo really knows what he’s doing. (Being able to move from a record of “Pig” quality to a record of total mindless pop smash hits within the span of a year would be a move that critics would at least respect, if not actively enjoy) Mixing the two up only confuses the listeners, pisses off the critics (would “Butterfly” mean half as much to anyone if it was placed at the end of Maladroit instead of Pinkerton? that’s how I feel about the placement of “Angel” on Red), and what’s more, fails to sell records. It’s just silly.

    And this could work retroactively, too. The band could’ve released Green in ’01 and then a “return to form” record based on stuff like “Autumn in Jayne” and the Homie material turned around in just a year instead of Maladroit (it was all written already! plus, sprinkle in some new gems like “Broken Arrows” and “We Go Together”…hell, even “Living Without You” could work in a clever-pop, Homie kind of context). If Cuomo really knew what he was doing anymore, this is the kind of stuff he’d be doing.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  33. OOS wrote:

    In my opinion, A3 should’ve been a double album. Seeing as how that wouldn’t have been feasible given the bands popularity at the time, though, I think that they should’ve done something like SOAD: Release one album, then another about a year later. I’m thinking one full of fun summertime pop, another of more experimental, darker material. They could’ve done that EASILY.

    In any case, you’re right that that kind of structure would have strengthened the bands appeal, though at the same time, the songs that sell are usually actually pretty good, and they could’ve just made the experimental albums with some good pop hits thrown in for good measure. What Weezer fails at is when they try to make an ALBUM full of hits. For instance, Green. If they had thrown IITS and HP on the album along with a mixture of Homie/RCB content, it wouldn’t of sold any less because the two pop singles are there. In fact, it may have sold better because of good word of mouth. Instead, though, they chose to keep going for the mainstream appeal with stuff like Simple Pages and GD, which were never going to be singles anyway, so they don’t really matter. By the same token, Red could’ve just had PNB on it, and they could’ve thrown the deluxe songs on instead of Heart Songs and EGD and the like, because they were never going to be singles so writing them like they would be makes no sense.

    GRR WEEZER.

    Also, I would’ve thrown Burndt Jam in with Brokne Arrows and WGT, though to be honest I have a much different view of how the third/fourth albums should’ve gone. Really, they could’ve made about 3 albums just off of a combination of Green-era and hiatus material, with some new tracks thrown in, and all would’ve been better than anything they’ve released since Pinkerton.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  34. Soyrev wrote:

    Lucid points, all of them. This band has become so hare-brained.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  35. OOS wrote:

    Yes, though to be honest in a strange way these “what-ifs?” are probably what keeps the fan base so interested.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  36. noobcakesmcgee wrote:

    I definitely agree that more than one A3 era album should’ve been made. In my iTunes (and Weezer dream world), A3 is a four part concept album, each part corresponding to a season (Spring – poppier, upbeat Summer -SS2K, rock stuff Autumn – homie, mellower Winter – darker, moodier). It’s actually pretty fun to listen to that way and really shows the wealth of material Rivers had to choose from during that era.

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  37. Soyrev wrote:

    I feel like, by the time this blog reaches an end, I’ll have a potential A3 tracklist ready that could compete with Pinkerton. Just maybe. It could at least be a totally worthy successor…

    Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink
  38. OOS wrote:

    There are at least a few tracks from the hiatus that rank with Pinkerton’s best, in my opinion.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  39. OOS wrote:

    Okay, so i’m officially gonna try and make this VERY BEST. It definitely deserves it.

    Autumn In Jane is my favourite Homie song (not counting the ones that were written before: LS, HT, and Wanda would all probably make it over this). It has this great sense of melancholy to it, something running under the surface just like IITS. The melody that underpins the longing lyrics is simply fantastic, one of those simple melodies that Cuomo so perfected in the 90’s. The the build up is intense, reaching its apex in the bridge, before coming back to just Cuomo on acoustic guitar. Its fantastic, far better then some TVB selections (i’m looking at you, O Girl), and definitely deserves it.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  40. Soyrev wrote:

    I’ll have to relisten again. A cleaner recording of any kind would help, Rivers…

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink
  41. Allpwrtoslaves wrote:

    if “The Organ Player” gets even a nomination, this should go straight to “Thes Very Best”. Possibly my favorite Homie song.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  42. Soyrev wrote:

    I just realized what a crazy-looking word “autumn” is! Seriously, think about that!

    I’ll have to relisten soon. Keep in mind though, as far as the GP goes, this is as the very top of that list. It’s totally on-the-cusp. I’m not equating it to songs like “Fall Together” or “Private Message.”

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  43. Ludicrosity wrote:

    So I just randomly clicked on this post and noticed: This is still only in the grand playlist. Did you ever get the chance to relisten to it Soy? I think it really does deserve to be in the very best… especially when you’ve made it known that you will probably put Underdogs there… wtf?

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  44. Soyrev wrote:

    Yeah I don’t really know what the fuck I was talking about. This song is incredible.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 12:06 am | Permalink
  45. Ludicrosity wrote:

    Woo hoo! I swear, I’ve been obsessed with this song over the past week, I think it’s one of the absolute best songs that Rivers has never released… how has some form of this not been officially released!?

    Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  46. ThomYorke wrote:

    Glad to see you’ve come to your senses, Soy. There was never any question this belongs with the best.

    Friday, March 5, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

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