I reprint this article every year around Halloween, so enjoy. Happy Halloween!
I’ve got a lot of music in my ol’ iTunes Library — well over 3,000 songs — and in the spirit of Halloween, I have assembled a short playlist of the very, very best creepy songs I’ve ever come across (but you probably haven’t).
First off we have “Lover’s Last Chance”, by a little-known Celtic group from New Orleans called The Poor Clares. It starts off sounding just a bit cheesy, as the singer goes on about Halloween night and “werewolves a-howlin'”, but it quickly takes a turn for the dark, moving to a haunting ghost story and… well, give it a listen and tell me if it doesn’t give you the creeps.
The album is called Resurrected Lover, and though it may be a bit hard to find, it seems they pop up on eBay and the like from time to time. Get going in time for next year! If you like good Celtic music, one of the singers, Beth Patterson, has released some other albums that are available as well.
Note: The Poor Clares’ rendition isn’t available online that I could find, but another singer’s version is on iTunes. I like the Clares’ version much better, as the haunting background vocals really make the song.
Next we have I Am Stretched On Your Grave, as performed by Kate Rusby.
Creepiest. Song. Evar.
No, really. If Edgar Allan Poe had been a songwriter, this would have topped his greatest hits. It’s a traditional Celtic song (what is it with those Irish makin’ wit’ the creepy, anyway?), and it has been performed by others before, but this rendition really takes the cake, with a minimal rhythmic drive carrying you along down a very dark road. The only thing a bit odd about this song is that it is a woman singing what is lyrically clearly a man’s “role” in the story, but that’s easily ignored. it’s from her album Hourglass. Go get it! (link is above)
Third in the list is yet another Celtic tune (funny, when I started this post I hadn’t realized the common source of these three songs — the sound of them is different enough that they are far from sounding alike!) called “She Moved Thro The Fair”. This one is performed by Finbar Wright (former member of Irish Tenors) on his album A Tribute to John McCormack. There are several versions of this song out there, but again, rendition means a lot when looking for the truly creepy song. The interesting thing about this one is that it can sneak up on you. It’s entirely possible to hear this one several times before it suddenly hits you what happens in it — the lyrics are clear but subtle, in a way sure to appeal to fans of ghost stories.
New for 2008 I present a song by “the Geeks’ Weird Al”*, Jonathan Coulton. A couple years ago he underwent a project he called “Thing a Week”, in which he created a new song every week for an entire year, and put them up on his web site. Some are hits, and some are misses; but when he’s good, he’s great. One of these productions was a song called “Creepy Doll“, and tells the story of a house, and a locked door, and (naturally) a doll. Heck, you can listen to it on his site, so rather than me describing it, head on over there and listen.
Let us not forget Sting’s “Moon Over Bourbon Street“. A song written by Sting, inspired by Interview With The Vampire. ‘Nuff Said.
Okay, okay, okay I’ve got a bonus song for you. You’ve all heard this one, you just didn’t realize how creepy it is.
First, it’s story time:
A man comes home late one night to find his wife murdered, lying in a spreading pool of her own blood. He actually catches the killer in the act! There is a struggle, during which he clearly sees the man’s face, but the man overpowers him and escapes into the night. The police never catch him.
Years pass. The man never really recovers from his wife’s horrible death, or the thought that he was so close to catching the bastard who did it. That face — those eyes — are seared into his memory.
Late one cold winter evening he is walking at night when he hears faint cries for help in the distance. He follows the voice, and comes to a frozen lake, where someone has broken through a thin patch in the ice. The man runs toward the lake, grabbing a fallen branch along the way that he can use to help the man trapped in the icy waters. He gets to the edge of the ice, and slowly starts to work his way out closer to the man struggling desperately for purchase on the slippery edge of the hole. Suddenly he stops.
He knows that face.
He knows intimately the face of the man in the water. He has seen it exactly once before and will never forget it. After standing there for a moment, watching the man reach out to him from the freezing water, he turns and makes his way back to the shore and drops the branch, then turns and sits down.
Now go listen to Phil Collin’s In the Air Tonight. It will never be the same song again.