Friday, October 16, 2009

Great Halloween songs....

It's getting 2 B that season. Soon all the little goblins will B hitting the streets, & I've bn thinking about what rock/pop songs from the last 50 yrs would make up a good Halloween soundtrack, a mix-tape or -CD if U will, mainly highlighting (as usual) the forgotten or overlooked. But unlike with Christmas (I can rattle off 2 U a dozen great overlooked Xmas songs almost without thinking -- wait til Dec!), I came up with only a few overlooked gems & then hadta start falling back on stuff almost every1 knows. So let's get this list goin & then I'll open up the blog 2 musical suggestions from y'all out there....

OVERLOOKED/FORGOTTEN:
* Peter, Paul & Mary: "A'Soulin'" (1962, from their album MOVING) -- This 1 works 4 Xmas or Halloween, since the kids in this song R clearly trick-or-treating, but it's during the Xmas season. They R POOR kids 2: "Meat nor drink nor money have I none...." I could C this song Bing sung as far back as Biblical times; there's a cold-desert-winter feeling 2 it, as well as a bit of Old Testament atmosphere surrounding the importance of Giving. But it's joyous -- the singing is amazing & the acoustic guitars R pretty mesmerizing. RIP, Mary Travers.
* Blondie: "Angels on the Balcony" (1980, from their pretty-much worthless album AUTOAMERICAN) -- This gorgeous, moody classic is buried near the Nd of Side 1 of the album, but it jumps right outta the speakers at U. A classic Xploring-the-haunted-house story, the guitar-driven wordless choruses R great, & Deborah Harry never sang better or warmer, without that cool distance she sometimes had. There's even spooky ghost sounds in the instrumental middle-break....
* Fleetwood Mac: "The Green Manalishi" (1969) -- Now this really IS scary. Back in their early blues-band days, Mac's founder/guitarist Peter Green really did have a hellhound on his trail, & this song portrays the vision of evil he felt was chasing him: "All my tryin is up/All you're bringin is down." 2 months after this brilliant heavy blues hit the Top 10 in England, Green quit the band 2 join a religious cult. He couldn't bear 2 get NE closer 2 the thing that haunted his nightmares....
* Jim Stafford: "Swamp Witch" (#39/1973) -- This is spooky. Stafford made a brief career out of silly joke-songs, but this is absolutely straight & U can almost feel the moss growing off the sides of the trees in this moody, atmospheric song about a witch who casts a spell 2 save a sleepy bayou town. Made #39 4 1 wk around Halloween '73.
* King Crimson: "Starless" (1974, from their album RED) -- Soundtrack music 4 the Very Last Halloween Anywhere Ever. "Red" itself is equally relentless, pummelling, powerful & life-affirming....
* Wigwam: "Bless Your Lucky Stars" (1974, from their album NUCLEAR NIGHTCLUB) -- My son felt this rumbling, ominous, relentless 6-minute ultimate-vocoder-song was pretty spooky, possibly Bcos almost the only words U can make-out in it R the repeating title line. Not sure precisely what's going on here, but these guys from Finland had the dark, ominous mood DOWN.
* Queen: "The Prophet's Song" (1975, from their album A NIGHT AT THE OPERA) -- Never have bn able 2 figure out precisely what's going on here either, tho it Cms 2 B another Biblical-era tale of prophesized gloom & doom. But Freddie & Co. play it absolutely straight, & tho it's a little long the melodrama is amazing & the impact is pretty stunning. Sorta the serious flipside 2 "Bohemian Rhapsody," this shoulda bn at least as well-known.
* Donovan: "Season of the Witch" (1968) -- Heavy! Don's phrasing is kinda silly in places ("When I look out my win-dow") & the lyrics R such a total scream ("Beatniks are out to make it rich/Oh no!") that Procol Harum's Keith Reid coulda written them. But it's obvious Don is having a great time, & his backing band (which I'd bet $$$ included Jimmy Page & John Paul Jones of later Led Zep fame) play the hell outta this, & it builds 2 a pretty hot intensity. Pretty great 4 a piece of total foolishness....
+ Incredible String Band: "Witches' Hat" (1968, from their album THE HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER) -- This is also spooky. Unlike the silly album it's part of, this creates a brief, stark, Nd-of-the-yr ghostly-wind-thru-the-barren-trees feeling. There's also a la-la-la chorus that sounds like kids dancing around a fire during the time of the Black Death. Dark, mystifying, definitely old rural-style witchcraft. A perfect soundtrack if U're Halloween is taking place in rural parts of the British Isles. Some of the ghosts around there go a LONG way back....
* Weird Al Yankovic: "Nature Trail to Hell" (from his album 3-D) -- Yeah, I know what U're thinkin. Probly the best non-parody song Al ever did (tho it still makes fun of FRIDAY THE 13TH-style movies), with LOTSA melodrama, crashing production by guitarist Rick Derringer, hilarious lyrics, & an over-the-top finale stolen equally from opera & the Beatles' "A Day in the Life." Great!
* Motorhead: "Killed By Death." Hilarious! & great guitar!
+ Five Man Electrical Band: "Werewolf" (1974) -- If yr next-door neighbor was a werewolf, wouldn't that really mess up the neighborhood? That's what this song's about. Kinda dated, but I thot at the time that it was gonna B a big hit....

STUFF WE ALL KNOW:
+ Bobby "Boris" Pickett & the Crypt Kickers: "The Monster Mash" (1962/1970, etc.) -- Of course....
* Rolling Stones: "Sympathy for the Devil" (1968) -- Naturally. A freakin masterpiece, & pure evil. Jagger's majestic coolness, Keith's brief guitar freakouts toward the Nd, & those killer "doo-doo" backing vocals. Brilliant disturbing music.
* Jefferson Airplane: "White Rabbit" (1967). If yr Halloween is Bing chemically enhanced....
* Blue Oyster Cult: "Don't Fear the Reaper" (1976) -- How could I have 4got10 this? So cool, so smooth, with great ghostly guitar riffs & the coolest backing vocals. The Cult's 1988 version of "Astronomy" (from IMAGINOS) would work as pretty great Halloween music 2 -- it's got the same spooky mysterioso mood & the same great ghostly guitar. "Morning Final" also has a nice spooky mood. NEthing but "Tattoo Vampire," 1 of the worst things they ever did, & (like "Reaper" & "Final") from their above-avg '76 album AGENTS OF FORTUNE.
* Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" (1975) really IS about a Welsh witch. But I think it's pretty close 2 worn-out. I prefer Mac's "Sisters of the Moon" (1979, from their album TUSK), which I think is witchier, spookier, louder, & has LOTsa great Lindsey Buckingham freakout guitar at the Nd.... Or how bout the long version of "I'm So Afraid" on FMAC LIVE (1981)? It's almost ALL loud&heavy freakout gtr -- definitely scary. So R Buckingham's possessed vocals on a lotta that album....
+ The Doors: "People are Strange" (1967) -- Not about Halloween, but I've always thot it had a really nice creepy outta-kilter quality, Btween Jim Morrison's crooning & Ray Manzarek's almost-honky-tonk piano in the middle....
* Beatles: "I Am the Walrus" (1967) -- If this isn't the most twisted, eerie, bizarre, spooky thing they ever did (right up there with "Revolution #9" & of course "Mr. Moonlight"), I'll eat acid. It's like a nightmare. & it was the B-side of the insanely catchy & harmless "Hello Goodbye." "Strawberry Fields Forever" ain't Xactly a walk in the park, neither. Nor is "A Day in the Life."
(Am I the only music fan in the world who'd like 2 hear David Bowie sing "the Walrus"? Don't U think he'd B great fallin back on his old Anthony Newley-isms when he gets 2 lines like "Expert textpert joking smokers don't you think the joker laughs at youuuuuuuuu?" ...Well, mayB not. But I'd like 2 hear Elmer Fudd sing the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties," 2....)

NOT REALLY NOMINATED:
Pink Floyd: "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" -- I haven't heard this in YEARS. Cm 2 remember there Bing some pretty good horrific screaming in it, but other than that I'm not really qualified.... Bsides, if CREEPY is what U want, why not "One of My Turns" on THE WALL? Great self-portrait with a lotta great lines, & the way Roger Waters SINGS it, that dry, croaking voice he uses: "Don't look so frightened, this is just a passing phase, one of my bad days.... Why are you running awayyyyyyy?" That Rog, what a joker.... The live version of "Astronome Domine" on UMMAGUMMA is a little scary 2.... So is "Jugband Blues"....
The Eagles: "Witchy Woman" (1973) -- I guess this is an OK mood piece 4 them, but I never really liked them that much (Xcept 4 "Outlaw Man," "James Dean," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "I Can't Tell You Why," "Seven Bridges Road"), & I always thot this was sorta contrived & stupid....
The Headboys: "The Ripper" -- Some pretty-good blood-curdling screams in this, but the rest of it's kinda dumb. Their 1st (only?) album (1980) is kinda a 4got10 silly-new-wave classic, if U can get over the dated cutesiness of parts of it. (How could they possibly have been NE GOOD? They were on RSO!)
...I'm not really qualified 2 suggest NEthing by Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Scorpions or AC/DC (Xcept mayB "Hell's Bells" or "Highway to Hell," & "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is great comedy but doesn't fit this list. "Big Balls" is Njoyably crass.... I wish I could Njoy these guys AS COMEDY the way I can Njoy Motorhead....).

ABSOLUTELY NOT NOMINATED:
- Bloodrock, "D.O.A." (#36/1971) -- My Ghod. The worst death-rock song EVER. Made the Top 40, 2. Heard it 1nce at age 12 & it scared the crap outta me. Haven't heard it since & don't want 2 -- the 1 time pretty-much scarred me 4 life....

4GOT A GREAT 1:
* Deep Purple, "Hush" (#4/1968) -- From the wolf's howl that kicks it off, 2 Jon Lord's pushy organ hysterics, Ritchie Blackmore's wild gtr, Joe South's obsessed lyrics & Rod Evans' macho vocal, this is a great spooky song that I'd 4got10 all about -- til I saw the full moon on Halloween nite, then thot of that wolf's howl -- & then humming this song in my head helped get me thru mosta the rest of the nite at work. I don't know Purple's work as well as I probly should, Xcept 4 this, their Xcellent version of Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman," & the freakin' classic "Highway Star." Oh, & "Smoke on the Water" has gotta B seriously in the running 4 Most Overplayed Rock Song of All Time....

DISCLAIMER: I was overseas in Turkey in 1990 & '91 & missed a lot musically-speaking (Nirvana? INXS?), & lived in Wyoming from '92 2 '98 (which felt almost as disconnected as living in the Middle East), + with a few minor breaks I pretty-much stopped paying attn 2 popular music after say 2004 (if not '98) -- & I know popular music has done nothing in more recent years Xcept GET SCARIER.
So if any of U good folks out there have some sure-fire nominees 4 more great Halloween songs, toss 'em in as a comment with a little bit about why, & I'm sure I'll B slappin my 4head & wonderin why I didn't think of those songs on my own. Either that or I'll B tryin 2 FIND them....
But just U wait until Christmas rolls around....

3 comments:

Gardenhead said...

great list tad, especially incredible string band selection. As you'll see, I included them in a list I made a good while back too!

http://onavery.blogspot.com/2007/10/frightening-living-shite-out-of-meself.html

ADD said...

Just a few to add...
Three Days Grace-Animal I Have Become
Michael Jackson-Thriller
Metallica-Some Kind of Monster
Evanescence-Whisper
From First To Last-Ride The Wings of Pestilence
Tool-Lateralus,The Grudge,Schism

tad said...

Course I haven't heard mosta these, but I shoulda at least thot of "Thriller." What was I thinking? Must B the Alzheimer's. Thanx 4 commenting.... -- TAD.