No matter how old I get, I never outgrow Halloween. I retain a childlike fascination with the macabre, with horror and the concept of evil lurking beneath the surface, and it melds so well with the weather this time of year — the wind swirling through the trees, making the most massive of branches dance and sway, the blowing leaves skittering along the streets. To me, the scene outside only reaffirms Halloween’s folk/pagan roots, a time when restless spirits grow animated. The weather grows progressively spookier as October nears its final hours, until it’s over again for another year, and November dawns with the feeling of calm and order restored, like a crypt sealed up tight for another year.
And because I can’t get enough of scary music, and in honor of this blog’s moniker roadway, here are eight songs to get you in the Halloween mood.
Misfits — “Bloodfeast”
People debate whether this shock-horror hardcore band was truly scary or merely camp, especially as Glenn Danzig veers closer to parody Vegas lounge-act territory in his golden years and a comic-book band bearing the Misfits’ name continues to soil their legacy. But there is no denying that in their day, The Misfits combined underrated lyrics, powerful riffing and Danzig’s considerable vocal talents to chilling effect, as in this 1983 song that describes a demonic scene about a woman possessed and ripped apart. Because you just can’t fake it!
Salem song I played on Firefox
Lee Scratch Perry — “Disco Devil”
Reggae’s original mad scientist remixes the Max Romeo hit “Chase the Devil” to weird effect, describing how he’ll “put on an iron shirt and chase Satan out of earth.”
Chuck Berry —”Downbound Train”
I have to credit the excellent podcast Sound Opinions for these last two entries, especially for this one, a 1955 tale of a man passed out drunk and dreaming about riding an alcohol-fueled train bound for hell.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds — “Stagger Lee”
There is no shortage of dark, spooky songs from the catalog of Nick Cave. His take on the standard “Stagger Lee,” from the 1994 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album “Murder Ballads,” is chilling, with its ominous, looping bassline, spine-tingling guitar jabs, pounding piano chords and the way Cave owns the invective and malevolence of the characters in a violent, R-rated tale about a bar patron from hell.
Low — “Witches”
A beautiful, eerie song in classic Low fashion gets at a staple childhood fear: “One night I got up and told my father there were witches in my room / He gave me a baseball bat and said, “Here’s what you do.”
Vicki Lawrence —”The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia”
A chilling tale of adultery and bloodlust woven through complicated family dynamics, all with a twist ending.
Skip James — “Devil Got My Woman”
A tale of betrayed love that invokes the tempter as the devil himself is made all the more creepy by James’ mournful singing.
Black Sabbath — “Black Sabbath”
This is the scary metal doom riff to end all scary metal doom riffs set to lyrics about meeting the devil incarnate.
What are your favorite scary Halloween jams?