A Song I Love – Forever Autumn – Justin Hayward

You might well be saying to yourself, “Wait, I know that song. Didn’t the Moody Blues do that?” Well, yes they recorded it (for a live album) and it sure sounds like something they’d write. But they didn’t and for that matter, neither did Justin Hayward. It’s from a musical called Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds. And so, of course there’s a musical about aliens who come to earth to wipe us out. A little background:

Jeff Wayne is an American composer whose father was in theater in London when Jeff was a boy. Jeff eventually wound up playing keyboards in bands and composed scores for his father’s London plays. He also created thousands of TV jingles.

In 1978, he wrote and produced the War of the Worlds album. It’s listed as prog-rock and symphonic rock. Musically, it’s pretty melodic but I doubt I’d listen to it all that often. It veers wildly between entertaining and cheesy, sometimes in the same measure.

It’s definitely got some Floydiness if you know what I mean. Maybe it’s also got a little bit of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, some Rick Wakeman. All by way of Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s kinda fun to listen to at least once. All things considered, I’d rather listen to this for an hour than two minutes of Phantom of the Fucking Opera.

Wayne realized he wanted a love song on the soundtrack. (‘Coz you gotta have a love song.) According to Wikipedia, he’d written a jingle for a Lego commercial (!) in 1969. A couple of guys named Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass were fellow session men and had performed on that jingle.

Vigrass and Osborne later joined together as a performing duo and wrote lyrics to the tune. Calling it “Forever Autumn,” they released it in 1972 on a long-forgotten album called Queues. Guitarists Chris Spedding and Caleb Quaye – Elton John’s guitarist – played on it. Osborne later went on to write lyrics with Elton for a period of non-Bernie Taupin time.

Wayne wanted “that voice from “Nights in White Satin”” and so hired Justin Hayward for the album. (Ireland is well represented with Phil Lynott on the record as well as a very pre-fame Liam Neeson in a speaking part.) Richard Burton is the narrator and in fact, provides a spoken intro to the song. But this is the popular version of the song with that intro stripped out.

“Forever Autumn” is a beautiful, melancholy song for a lonely fall day. Hayward is the absolutely right guy to make it work:

Spotify link

Curious to hear the War of the Worlds musical itself? Here’s a version. (Part of this and Spotify version may be blocked.) Additionally, there is a remake out there, a disco-y version, etc. You’d think they would take this thing on tour and do a live version, right? Of course they did. There was a touring version and the “New Generation” version played in London just last year.

Spotify link

When they toured, apparently they used a large bust of Burton’s head with an image of him superimposed to speak his parts. One can only imagine he was too fucking embarrassed to even make the gig. Later they replaced him with a 3D holograph of – wait for it – Liam Neeson. As Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up!

Oh, and that original Lego commercial? Sure, why not. Here’s the audio.

22 thoughts on “A Song I Love – Forever Autumn – Justin Hayward

        1. this song never came to mind at that time (for me it’s more of a first love kind of thing). There were much more relevant tracks that fit our situation and from which we both drew our comfort.

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        2. I confess to being familiar with none of those. Sound worth hearing whatever the context. I’ll give them a deeper spin when i have a better sound ststem at hand than the phone. Never heard the ‘first love’ bit in ‘Autumn’ though.

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  1. I remember seeing this record but didn’t know anything about it. Now I do. The Chris Spedding thing is kinda funny. I was just listening to him. He shows up on all sorts of the music I like. Seen him a few times. Great show with Robert Gordon. Little off topic but that’s all I got. Phil Lynott?

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    1. When the song was popular, they said it was from some ‘War of the Worlds’ musical. I didn’t give it much thought. I guess i wasn’t as inquisitive in those days. Always liked the Moody Blues. Have an idea in mind for a favorite album down the road. And Lynott? Thin Lizzy was pretty popular back then.

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      1. The Lynott question was he seemed like an odd choice, kinda the other end of the spectrum musically. I guess he was stretching out or it was a $$$ gig. When I seen Spedding you would have loved it. He did this Rich Little thing where he played a few licks from all his peers, Clapton, Beck, Page, it was hilarious.

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        1. It was funny Doc but it was unbelievably dead on. I have a little Robert Gordon coming up down the road. Springsteen turned me onto him way back in the day. He always had top notch guitar players with him. Link Wray, Danny Gatton, Spedding. A little off the ‘War of the Worlds’. It was the Spedding connection that did it. Sorry bud!

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        2. I know, I was just kiddin’. It was an interesting read with Docs spin. You and I could have a conversation about the history of paper clips. Music just sends us off on all sorts of directions. You just might go and listen to some of those great guitar solos on the Robert Gordon albums.

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  2. Such a great tune! I actually have the “War of the Worlds” album on vinyl – haven’t listened to it in decades and had all forgotten about this song!

    Based on how I remember it, I agree it’s not exactly the greatest piece of rock & roll, though the main theme is kind of catchy!😀

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  3. Ah, so you were the guy that bought the album. They were wondering. 😀 I’d forgotten about the song too. I suspect that if I go through my record collection I will find a lot of “I forgot about that one” discs.

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