In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: As summer draws to a close, we’re featuring our favorite songs about fall.
Tom Petty, “Time To Move On” (1994)
Tom Petty’s Wildflowers is essential summer listening for me, perfect for sultry sunny days and lingering light. When that light starts getting shorter I start feeling more restless—maybe because for all of school, through four years of college and two years of grad school—the end of summer meant the end of roaming, travel, and exploring, whether by car or plane or just by foot. Who hasn’t felt trapped by the requirement to go back to school, and all the demands that entails? So as summer fades to fall and the possibility of wandering ends, the more I want to get out of town.
Obviously I work through the summer now—though I’m lucky The A.V. Club allows for generous travel—but the cold feeling in the air still means less romping around Chicago and more confinement to the indoors. Fewer leisurely walks with my dog though my neighborhood and more quick, bundled-up trips outside, pleading with him to pee quickly. Fewer easy visits north to Wisconsin and more curbing my car rides because of snow and icy roads. The onset of fall is the onset of confinement, which makes me want to get out all the more strongly.
“Time To Move On” doesn’t have the autumnal feeling of, say, most Fleet Foxes songs, which I could’ve written about because they make up a lot of my soundtrack for chilly nights and the smell of decomposing leaves. But it does capture the uneasy wanderlust I feel most urgently at precisely the change in season that means I’m about to be geographically confined. Petty’s pretty, easy lyrics ride on top of a driving beat, and his talk of moving through airports, broken skylines, and the desire to move on verbalize what I feel at the end of summer. The best I can do is acknowledge the feeling with Petty’s burning beat and restless lyrics.