We know “Monster Mash.” And sure, it’s wonderful and all. But the fact is there’s a wealth of great Halloween-y tunes out there beyond the ubiquitous holiday hit. With this in mind, we contacted a bunch of local music-minded folks to inquire about their favorite spooky seasonal jams. Here’s what we got in response.
Got your own favorites? Post ’em in the comments.
Bobby Power, Flagpole
The Gothic Archies: “The Abandoned Castle of My Soul”
The Gothic Archies, one of the lesser known projects of Stephin Merritt (the Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, the 6ths), dives deep into Merritt’s subtle obsession with the macabre. With song titles like “City of the Damned,” “Your Long White Fingers,” and “In a Cave,” the Gothic Archies revel in tongue-in-cheek albeit entirely genuine adoration of gothic rock and modes. “The Abandoned Castle of My Soul,” taken from the project’s The New Despair EP, is tried and true Merritt, pointing out his teenage mistakes with lyrical flair: “I was young and impressionable/ My morality questionable/ When I happened to fall into a howling abyss/ And I haven’t hit the bottom yet.” It’s only spooky if you regret it.
Claire Campbell, Hope for Agoldensummer
Warren Zevon: “Werewolves of London”
It’s super creepy.
Mike Turner, HHBTM
Bobby “Boris” Pickett: “Monster Mash Party”
My all-time favorite Halloween song is Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s B-side to “Monster Mash,” “Monster Mash Party.” It’s basically the Monster Mash but with all the horror characters at a really bad party and cheap sound effects. Sloppy, B-movie trash outsider junk.
Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers
Led Zeppelin: “The Immigrant Song” Or, as I used to call it when I was five, “the scary woman screaming song.”
Sam The Sham: “Little Red Riding Hood” I dressed as the big bad wolf a few years ago and sang that one at Caledonia. Pretty scaaaary. My daughter loves that song.
Peter Gabriel: “The Intruder”
Sufjan Stevens: “John Wayne Gacy Jr.”
Truly the creepiest song I’ve ever heard.
T. Ballard Lesemann, Flagpole
1. Bobby “Boris” Pickett: “Monster Mash”
2. The Strangeloves: “I Want Candy”
3. Bauhaus: “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
4. Edgar Winter Group: “Frankenstein”
5. The Sonics: “The Witch”
6. Black Sabbath: “Children of the Grave”
7. The Cramps: “Rockin’ Bones”
8. Megan Jean & The Klay Family Band: “Dead Woman Walkin'”
9. Dusty Springfield: “Spooky”
10. Sparks: “Eaten By the Monster of Love”
11. The Misfits: “Halloween”
12. Warren Zevon: “Werewolves of London”
13. The Fall: “Fiery Jack”
14. Frank Black & The Catholics: “Skeleton Man”
15. Vince Guaraldi Trio: “The Great Pumpkin Waltz”
Nate Mitchell, Cars Can Be Blue
The original version appeared on the band’s second album (Bloodrock 2) and was an AM radio hit in 1971 that subsequently got banned from the airwaves from what was considered distasteful lyrical content. This song has it all! Creepy organ, ambulance sound effects, horror nightmare lyrics that slowly unravel a vividly macabre tale of an airplane crash as told through the first-person perspective of someone who isn’t gonna survive it, plus a blazing guitar solo at the end! Rumor has it that the Butthole Surfers used to cover this, but so far I have found no evidence to back this claim up. Wishful thinking, I guess. There is a live version that is even longer (and maybe better) than the original studio version. Also, in the late ’80s, singer Jim Rutledge made a music video that follows the lyrics but switches the airplane crash for an automobile accident.
Rachel Bailey, Flagpole
Tracy Morgan: “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”
Capturing the horror of both puberty and werewolfism, “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” is a Halloween song for the ages. There’s nothing spooky about it, really, but the idea of “Boys becoming men/ Men becoming wolves” and Tracy Morgan’s pronunciation of the odd Yiddish word makes it a lot of fun.
Christopher Joshua Benton, Flagpole
The B-52s: “Rock Lobster”
My first-ever job was at Party City during Halloween. I had to wear a goofy pirate costume everyday and stand outside on North Decatur Road in North Atlanta. Even worse, the in-store soundtrack looped endlessly every hour on the hour. The upshot was that one of those songs was the B-52s’ classic Halloween hit.
Bain Mattox, The World Famous
Ray Parker Jr.: “Ghostbusters Theme”
Ghostbusters is such an awesome movie, and the song makes me feel nostalgic and brings about visions of Sparkles Roller Rink when I was in elementary school. Plus, the intro to that song is just too spooky-awesome; it almost makes you feel anxious before the first downbeat hits.
Gabe Vodicka, Flagpole
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: “Red Right Hand”
Cave’s most outwardly ominous tune has been co-opted by many a film and TV series as a musical mood-setter; see the first three Scream installments for proof. The song oozes and crawls through its near-five-minute run time, punctuated by theatrical organ bursts and anchored by Cave’s shadowy baritone. Like most great Halloweeny things, underneath the spooky surface, it’s actually a lot of fun.
Will Donaldson, Shade
Butthole Surfers: “Graveyard”
Buttholes dig up bodies and breathe acid into them.
Chris Hassiotis, Flagpole
Screaming Lord Sutch: “She’s Fallen in Love With the Monster Man”
Like the weirder, crazier uncle of the “Monster Mash” influenced by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, 1964’s “She’s Fallen in Love With the Monster Man” has it all: bratty girl-group crooning, teenagers making out in a movie theater, monster snarling, garage rock guitars, a twist ending, and weird spooky-spoken vocals from Screaming Lord Sutch, a remarkable British weirdo who also ran for public office from the 1960s through the ’90s, first as a rep for the National Teenage Party and then with the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. Happy Halloween!
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