Off-topic: songs of the Halloween season

young-frankenstein1.jpgBack when I had a blog of a different sort, I would post my favorite haunting Halloween melodies for all to see (and sometimes hear). Feeling nostalgic, and not wanting to break my streak of the annual posting, I hereby give you, for the fifth year in a row, my…

List of 13 Scary, Spooky, Silly or Sublime Songs Suitable for Samhain (Halloween [but “Samhain” is more alliterative])

13. “The Time Warp”. Let’s get the obligatory Rocky Horror Picture Show reference out of the way. “Time Warp” is a great song, but not that scary or spooky. Still, no Halloween Party would be complete without it. It’s just a jump to your left…

12. “Frankenstein”. Nothing The Edgar Winter Group could come up with would be nearly as frightening as seeing Edgar’s freaky brother Johnny Winter in concert. But this funky instrumental is a nice homage to the original horror novel.

11. “Black Magic Woman”, by Santana. More sensual than scary, it’s about black magic, a woman, and casting your spells on me, baby.

10. “Werewolves of London”, by Warren Zevon (RIP). The most recognizable of Zevon’s Excitable Boy tunes. I love the toe-tapping piano intro. But the song is not as macabre as a couple others from the same album: the title song (He took little Susie to the Junior Prom/Excitable boy, they all said/and he raped her and killed her, then he took her home/Excitable boy, they all said) and Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner, which is more of a political statement than a horror song. For a Halloween wing-ding, “Werewolves” is the right Warren Zevon tune.

9. “People Who Died”, by the Jim Carroll Band. This is junkie-turned-high school basketball star-turned-novelist/poet/performance artist-turned-survivor Jim Carroll’s classic tribute to the friends from his tough New York neighborhood who didn’t survive. A sample of his gritty poetry: Teddy sniffing glue he was 12 years old/Fell from the roof on East Two-nine/Cathy was 11 when she pulled the plug/On 26 reds and a bottle of wine/Bobby got leukemia, 14 years old/He looked like 65 when he died/He was a friend of mine. A great song for El Dia de Los Muertos.

8. “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pay homage to the prince of darkness. Honorable mention: “Paint It Black.”

7. “The Raven” by The Alan Parsons Project. Not nearly as scary as Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem — and how could it be? — but nonetheless a great effort to put the story to music. Take a listen some midnight dreary.

6. “Enter Sandman,” by Metallica. Back when front man James Hetfield looked a bit more creepy, and Metallica wasn’t spooked by the specter of peer-to-peer file-swapping.

5. “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps),” by David Bowie. In the years between Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust days and his Aladdin Sane persona, Bowie created some decent music. The title track to the Scary Monsters album is one example, and while the song’s subject might not be fitting with this theme, the song title is.

4. “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” (lyrics) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Only if you watch the video can you grasp the true macabre nature of this song. The video portrays the necrophilia implied in Petty’s lyrics, sung in that haunting southern accent.

3. “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” by J.S. Bach. Otherwise known as the Phantom of the Opera song. Spooky organ music! I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

2. “The Monster Mash,” by Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. Early ’60s tribute to Hollywood horror.

1. “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” by Blue Oyster Cult (mp3). Great haunting guitar intro, with that off-kilter guitar bridge just before the solo. Plus, it’s a seductive song about suicide, and it has such a sweet cowbell (video). What could be creepier?

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

2 thoughts on “Off-topic: songs of the Halloween season”

  1. For a creepy, mellow song that is actually a little catchy and soothing to the ear, check out John Wayne Gacy by Sufjan Stevens. It’s on his Illinoise cd. Very good stuff.

    I’ll have to check a few of these out!

  2. Brad – You have excellent taste in music. Illinoise is one of the top five albums of the 2000s in my book, and “John Wayne Gacy” is one of many terrific tracks on that album. (Did I just say “album”? Showing my age again.)

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