A Quick List of Songs for Halloween

Oct 31, 2008 3:22pm

Everyone knows Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s hit,”The Monster Mash.”  That’s a Halloween classic, but here’s a playlist of less traditional Halloween-minded songs.  Donovan – “Season of the Witch” (1966) Taken from his landmark album “Sunshine Superman,” this rock-blues number, with its vague lyrics has always been a favorite of mine.  I can’t listen to it and not be reminded of Halloween. There’s ominous imagery all around apart from the persisting witch references.  As Donovan sings about looking out of his window, there is a noticeable level of apprehension in his voice.  To this day, I’m not sure he gets his due as a songwriter.  This track in particular should be proof to his critics that he is worthy of praise.  Poe – “Haunted” (2000) This song was the title track to the alternative singer-songwriter’s second (and most recent) album.  It’s very ethereal sounding as she sings, “I’m haunted by the lives that I have loved and the actions that I’ve hated.”  The pop-flavored number is given just the right amount of echo and sheen to make her sound almost ghostly.  The album itself is a bit of ghostly experience.  It was written and recorded as a tribute to her late father Tad Danielewski, who was a famous and respected documentary film maker.  The disc is peppered with samples from his lectures.  It’s a simultaneously loving, eerie and ultimately stirring effect. It also serves as a companion piece to Poe’s brother, Mark Z. Danielewsi’s book, “The House of Leaves.” “Haunted” did not get quite the level of attention of her debut, “Hello,” but it’s worth seeking out.  Tricky – “Pumpkin” (1995) Over a slow, ominous beat, Tricky whispers lines like “I can’t see, I can’t breathe,” while vocalist Martina Topley-Bird sings a dark, sad, soulful lament.  Tricky’s work has always been a little disturbing, and this is no exception, but it is also rather beautiful in its own special way.   It’s a highlight on Tricky’s excellent “Maxinquaye” CD.  Gravediggaz – Anything off their album “Six Feet Deep” (1994) For those who do not remember, the Gravediggaz were a hip-hop super-group consisting of Wu-Tang’s RZA, famed producer Prince Paul, his Stetsasonic group-mate Frukwon and the late rapper Poetic.  It was meant to be “horror-core” rap, combining the extreme elements of the goriest of horror movies with a hardcore hip-hop style.  It’s not for the faint of heart.  It’s at times quite graphic, but it stands as a classic.  Highlights include the demented “Diary of a Madman,” the bothersome exploration of death, “1800-Suicide,” the drug-fueled “Defective Trip (Trippin’),”Bang Your Head” and “Here Comes the Gravediggaz.”  Listen with caution.  This album fully earns its warning sticker.  Ladytron – “Ghosts” (2008) This deadpan electro-clash number from the Liverpool-based band’s latest album “Velocifero” would be a perfect soundtrack to your Halloween party.  In fact like many Ladytron songs before it, there’s an almost apocalyptic element to the song.  Grandpaboy (Paul Westerberg) – “Vampires and Failures” (2003) Taken from Paul Westerberg’s album, “Dead Man Shake” which was recorded under his Grandpaboy pseudonym, this ragged, blues driven rocker serves as one of the best and most memorable songs of Westerberg’s entire career.  To me, this song even stacks up to his classics with the Replacements.  The recording is fuzzy, the mixing is extreme, but nevertheless, it’s a nice slice of home-made, bar-room blues.  I could listen to this track on repeat for hours and hours.   
  Ryan Adams -”Halloweenhead” (2007) This is easily the best, funniest and humorously foul-mouthed track off Adams’ “Easy Tiger.”  It’s hilarious to hear him sing about his “head full of tricks and treats.” The track is built around a very seventies, arena-rock flavored riff and it will easily have you chanting along.  Combined with a bizarre, rather minimalist music video, it’s a track worth spinning again and again.  Vince Guaraldi – “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” (1966) It wouldn’t be Halloween without Guaraldi’s theme to “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”  What are your Halloween favorites?  Eat some candy, stay safe and have fun!  Happy Halloween!!

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