By Madeline Bocaro ©
And what costume shall the poor girl wear
To all tomorrow’s parties?
A blackened shroud
A hand-me-down gown
Of rags and silks, a costume
Fit for one who sits and cries
For all tomorrow’s parties…
Nico sings ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ on The Velvet Underground and Nico LP in 1966. The sad, droning dirge was written by Lou Reed, partially influenced by the people he met at Andy Warhol’s factory. The VU’s John Cale recollects that it was about a girl who had her children taken away from her.
What’s more appropriate for Halloween than Edgar Allan Poe – especially Nico reading Poe. This is a really beautiful musical score of a short film starring Marianne Faithfull. Nico reads the poem Ulalume over a beautiful score.
My story about ‘Ulalume’:
Watch and Listen Here: Music by Spanish band Neuromium
Film sequences from Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising starring Marianne Faithfull.
Iggy Pop’s reading of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart is nice and creepy. This appears on the 1997 CD Closed On Account of Rabies with several artists reciting the poems and tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
On a sweeter note, Sammy Davis Jr. is ‘The Candy Man’ in the song co-written by Anthony Newley. The song appeared in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and became a No. 1 hit for Sammy in 1972.
‘Flying Jelly Attack’ is my favorite song about jellybeans. It’s by the Ramones-influenced Japanese girl group Shonen Knife from their sixth album released in 1992 Let’s Knife – their first album sung in English. Their latest (June 2019) album is titled Sweet Candy Power. You might also want to play that title track, and also ‘Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches’ and ‘Peppermint Attack’.
‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ is a country western song with ghostly cries of ‘Yippie ay aaa, Yippie ay ooo’, covered by many but made popular by Vaughn Monroe in 1949.
‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ by Toronto’s R. Dean Taylor was written by Holland/Dozier/Holland. It was not a hit at first when it was released in 1966, but it was a smash on the Northern Soul scene in England in 1974. R. Dean Taylor composed and sang the gorgeous No. 1 hit, ‘Indiana Wants Me’ in 1970. As a producer at Motown in the 60s and 70s, he co-wrote many of the Four Tops’ greatest hits, including Bernadette. His collaborative efforts as a member of the Motown songwriting team called The Clan (with Pam Sawyer, Frank Wilson and Deke Richards) included two of my all-time favorite songs, the Supremes’ hits ‘Love Child’ and ‘Livin’ In Shame.’ Taylor had another hit in the UK in 1967 (written by Holland-Dozier-Holland), ‘Gotta See Jane.’ He died on January 7, 2022 at the age of 82.
‘Ghost Rider’ on Suicide’s 1977 debut album is a tribute to the Marvel Comics character of the same name.
Read my Suicide story: https://madelinex.com/2016/07/16/suicide-rip-alan-vega/
‘Johnny Remember Me’ by John Leyton is a 1961 duet with the ghost of the singer’s drowned girlfriend. Her haunting voice is otherworldly. It’s a really beautiful song with a galloping beat and echoing vocals produced by my favorite knob-twiddler, the great Joe Meek – his first No. 1 production.
‘Spooky’ by Dusty Springfield is a cover of a 1967 instrumental which was first covered by Classics IV with lyrics. It sounds almost exactly like their previous hit ‘Stormy’!
Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams / So I’ll propose, on Halloween.
Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little girl like you.
Dusty’s version changes the gender of the ‘spooky little girl’ to a boy, which is strange because she later came out as gay.
Classics IV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpo9KZYJ4sA
Dusty Springfield: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7QzxYAjgNc
Patti Smith’s ‘Ghost Dance’ celebrates a Native American ritual with nice percussion by Andi Ostrowe. The song is on Patti’s 1978 album Easter.
Also hear Mariane Faithfull’s version
Listen – Patti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF6G1glnFoY
Read my Patti Smith Easter story here:
‘Ghost Town’ by The Specials was released in 1981 and the spooky reggae tune reflects the unrest during riots in U.K. cities at the time.
Lou Reed’s ghostly and beautiful ‘Vanishing Act’ from his 2003 Edgar Allan Poe tribute album The Raven is simply stunning. It’s one of my all-time favorites.
It must be nice to disappear /To have a vanishing act
To always be looking forward / And never looking back
How nice it is to disappear/ Float into a mist
With a young lady on your arm / Looking for a kiss
Live version from Lou’s Animal Serenade album (2003): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5NM-Dff5K8
‘Halloween Parade’ is on Lou Reed’s 1989 album New York. In the midst of the cool scene on Christopher Street (before it hit the big time, when there were much fewer people on the streets). Lou is missing someone special, although he vows to be at the parade again next year.
I ran into Lou at the actual NYC Halloween parade – the only time my friend talked me into putting on stupid Halloween makeup! Lou didn’t seem to mind!
Me & Lou @ The Halloween Parade NYC, 1984
Halloween Parade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBrRQLSjMHk
‘It’s Halloween’ is track 3 on The Shaggs’ only studio album, Philosophy of the World released by the teenage girl group in 1969. I love this because all the band members seem to be playing on different songs in a different time!
Siouxsie & the Banshees ‘Halloween’ is from their 1981 album Juju. The dissonant song has lyrics about a murdered child.
‘There is a Ghost’ is on Marianne Faithfull’s 2005 album Before the Poison. This beautifully haunting song was co-written by producer Hal Wilner and the sparse production is by Wilner and Nick Cave.
First, let’s have some fun with the Silly Symphonies cartoon – The Skeleton Dance!
Despite the upbeat tune and anatomically correct lyrics about a skeleton (“The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone” etc…) ‘Dem Bones’ /’Dry Bones’ / ‘The Skeleton Dance’ is an old spiritual song made popular in 1947. After each verse is the lyric, “Now hear the word of the Lord.”
Listen (Karaoke): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bwRF4df-Ao
And by Delta Rhythm Boys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYb8Wm6-QfA
Watch-The Cramps: https://youtu.be/zAlb35WVtIk
‘Bony Moronie’ was a 1957 single by American R&B singer Larry Williams (label mate of Little Richard on Specialty Records). The Beatles were fans of Williams. They covered his songs ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’, ‘Bad Boy’ and ‘Slow Down’. The song which has a great sax solo and a melody reflecting ‘Sea Cruise’ is about a skinny girlfriend. John Lennon covered ‘Bony Morony’ with a much slower groove on his 1975 album of cover songs, Rock N’ Roll. WIlliams died at age 44 in 1980 of an alleged suicide.
John Lennon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sX5MOVF54lI
‘Rockin’ Bones’ by The Cramps appears on Psychedelic Jungle (1980). It’s a laid-back lazy blues with a zombie chorus – a much slower cover version of Ronnie Dawson’s rockabilly song from 1959.
Ronnie Dawson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIGtGj0VJcg
‘Skull Ring’ is the title track of Iggy Pop’s 2003 album on which he reunited with the Stooges (who feature on this song) for 3 songs. It has a Peter Gunn Theme riff and melody.
DEAD OR UNDEAD?
‘I Love the Dead’ from Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies (1973) is about necrophilia. Only Alice could get away with singing about this stuff – most likely because he had a great sense of humor! The album’s final track is ‘Dead Babies’ in which parents are scolded for leaving their child unattended with a bottle of aspirin. A highlight of Alice’s live gigs was when a baby carriage is wheeled onstage during the song. We never know what kind of hideous creature in baby form that Alice will pull out of there and skewer on the edge of his sword – and how many heads it might have! Alice never disappoints. Another great Alice Cooper song for Halloween is ‘Cold Ethyl’ on his solo album Welcome to my Nightmare. It’s also about necrophilia with his ‘frigid’ girlfriend by the refrigerator light.
Dead Babies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkbS2Zrcl6g
I Love the Dead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpKGfFw8FEA
Cold Ethyl – WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtinXsXWeaA
An early David Bowie song from his 1967 debut self-titled album (when he was still in his Anthony Newly phase) was morbid and creepy. On ‘Please Mr. Gravedigger’ Bowie sings (and sneezes) in a childlike voice to an old gravedigger. He saw the man pocket a locket of a little girl whom he is burying. He agrees not to tell about the locket if ‘Mr. GD’ won’t tell HIS own secret – that he is the young killer of the 10-year old girl whose grave he visits every day. The song becomes even more weird as he kills the gravedigger…
On his 1974 album Diamond Dogs, Bowie is now the character Halloween Jack. He sings ‘We Are the Dead’ another of Bowie’s references to George Orwell’s book 1984. It’s one of my favorite Bowie songs, but he has never performed it live.
‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ by Bauhaus (1979) is over 9 minutes long. It’s scratchy dub sound on this very early goth piece is mixed with the eerie deep vocals of Peter Murphy, who resembles a cross between David Bowie and a bat. He has performed it song live by hanging upside down the entire duration of the song. It was featured in the opening sequence of The Hunger – a horror film about vampires starring David Bowie and Catherine Deneuve in 1983.
Check out ‘Graveyard Rock’ with its dancing skeletons and skronking sax! This is by The Vampira / Elvira of Portland…
(An excerpt from her story):
Tarantula Ghoul was Portland’s vampy monster of ceremonies on House of Horror, a late-night horror movie showcase on KPTV in the late 1950s. Taranch, as she was affectionately known to her fans, was played by Suzanne Waldron. Graveyard Rock was the flipside of Taranch’s single released on Meadows Records. The song was written by B. Anson and J. Ralston. John Ralston was Suzanne’s producer-writer for House of Horror. The A-side was “King Kong.
LISTEN: Graveyard Rock!!! https://youtu.be/5wj_lxFAVhM
The B-side – ‘King Kong’
Mick Jagger dances with the devil at the graveyard in The Rolling Stones’ creepy song ‘Dancing With Mr. D’ (and with Mrs. D) on Goat’s Head Soup. I wonder if the devil appreciated Mick’s blue eyeshadow and shiny gold Ossie Clark jumpsuit!
Mick is singing about Mr. D, but it is Mrs. D who gets him in the last dance!
Down in the graveyard where we have our tryst
The air smells sweet, the air smells sick
He never smiles, his mouth merely twists
The breath in my lungs feels clinging and thick
But I know his name, he’s called Mr. D
And one of these days he’s going to set you free…
One night I was dancing with a lady in black
Wearing black silk gloves and a black silk hat
She looked at me longing with black velvet eyes
She gazed at me strange all cunning and wise
I saw the flesh just fall off her bones
The eyes in her skull was burning like coals
Lord, have mercy, fire and brimstone
I was dancing with Mrs. D
MEET THE MONSTERS
Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s No. 1 1962 hit ‘The Monster Mash‘ probably takes the title of the ultimate Halloween song. Pickett sings in a voice mocking Bela Lugosi who played Dracula. He has a party for many famous monsters. The host devises a new dance just for them – a send-up of the previous dance craze, The Mashed Potato.
Watch: American Bandstand -Oct.13, 1964: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNuVifA7DSU
It wouldn’t be Halloween without The Cramps. The band has many creature features; ‘Human Fly’, ‘God Monster’, ‘It Thing Hard-On’, ‘Goo Goo Muck’, ‘Green Fuz’, ‘I Was a Teenage Werewolf’, ‘Voodoo Idol’… And a smattering of dance songs; ‘Jungle Hop’, ‘Zombie Dance’(nobody moves), ‘The Crusher’, ‘Cramp Stomp’ ‘I’m Cramped’. You can also do a ghoulish stomp to ‘Can’t Find My Mind’. They also go way back with ‘Rockin’ Bones’, (see above) ‘Primitive’, and ‘The Natives are Restless’.
Enjoy your own Cramps Fest with ‘Eyeball in my Martini’
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyballs / eyeballs everywhere
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyballs / floating through the air
‘The Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon’ is on The Cramps’ fourth album Stay Sick in 1990. I would not want to be Lux and Ivy’s housekeeper!
Watch the disgustingly fun video here:
Read my tribute to Lux Interior: Love You Lux
‘Sacred Springs (聖なる泉 Seinaru Izumi)’ is a song first sung by the twin fairies (Shobijin) in the movie Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). The song is also in the film, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. It is written by Akira Ifukube and performed by Emi and Yumi Ito (The Peanuts).
Watch here – a nice remake with movie scenes/lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qU1OTH6X8M
Read my upcomingfull story about Emi and Yumi – The Peanuts next week!
‘Godzilla’ by Blue Oyster Cult is an ode to our favorite Japanese monster and about how ‘nature points up the folly of men’. It’s on the band’s fifth album, Spectres released in 1977. There is no cowbell on this song. Finally, 40 years later, a cover version of the song was used in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters for the first time. “Oh no! There goes Tokyo!”
‘There’s a Light’ over at the Frankenstein place! Richard O’Brien’s gorgeously glam score to his Rocky Horror Picture Show has a couple of lovely ballads with strange lyrics including this one and ‘Superheroes’ – both of which remind me of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Only Living Boy in New York’. The movie’s opener, Science Fiction’ is sung by O’Brien and mimed by the giant lips of Magenta (Patricia Quinn). So let’s do the timewarp again!
‘There’s A Light’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4G-hjfMR4U
‘Science Fiction Double Feature’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKhPVHoodrU
David Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’ is the title track from his 1980 album. Using his cut-up lyrics technique, he tells of a woman gone mad.
The Ramones song ‘Making Monsters for my Friends’ is on their final album released in 1995, ¡Adios Amigos! It most likely refers to using Mattel’s Thingmaker oven and metal molds to make Creepy Crawlers and Creeple People – monster heads that sat atop your pens. I always had the best dressed pencils in school! I loved the wonderfully toxic smell of the colorful Plastigoop cooking in the Thingmaker! You could make your own ‘Goo Goo Muck’! Why did they let kids play with dangerously hot electrical toys? I also liked Super Elastic Bubble Plastic, which you put onto the end of a straw to make bubble-like things.
I don’t want to open a can of worms and / I don’t want any Spaghetti-Os
And I could always tell when / Someone is holding a grudge
I’m making monsters for my friends
Here’s a bonus just for fun:
Incredibly Dangerous Toys From the Past You’ll Be Left Speechless
I would also include The Ramones ‘Cretin Hop’, ‘Pinhead’ and ‘Teenage Lobotomy’ on this really fun playlist! It was actually really sad to see the rubber Pinhead mask and costume on display at The Ramones exhibition in Queens, as it would never utter the words, ‘Gabba gabba hey’ again. Also on ¡Adios Amigos! is the Ramones’ wonderful cover version of the Tom Waits song ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up’ which was promoted with this beautiful advertisement!
Iggy Pop made a CD single called ‘Monster Men’ in Paris 1997. “And the French girls sing, “La la la la, la la la la la, we like monster men.”
‘Creature’ by Tijuana Panthers is on their 2016 album Max Baker. This wonderful tune is used by Iggy Pop as the soundtrack for his 2018 Halloween post featuring his pet bird Biggy Pop!
NAME YOUR POISON
The popular tune ‘Poison Ivy’ also written by Leiber and Stoller and recorded by The Coasters in 1959 and later by many others. It’s about a girl named Ivy with a bad reputation. The co-authors confirmed that Ivy was carrying an STD. The lyrics mention several other diseases such as mumps, measles and chicken pox – but in the end, if you catch what Ivy’s got, it will make you itch. The advice given is “you can look but you better not touch”. And the prescription is “an ocean of calamine lotion.”
Poison Ivy & Lux Interior – The Cramps:
The Sonics, a highly influential 1960s garage band wrote and recorded the original version of ‘Strychtnine’. The Cramps did a great cover on their album Songs the Lord Taught Us (1980). It’s also been covered by The Flaming Lips and by many others.
‘Strychtnine’ by The Sonics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7Nffq0bOgE
The Cramps: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQg_gwY9yiE
A song about an aphrodisiac, ‘Love Potion Number 9’ by Leiber and Stoller was originally by The Clovers in 1959, and then by The Searchers in 1964. A drink of the stuff prescribed by a gypsy causes a guy to kiss everything in sight. When he kisses a cop, that’s the end of his romantic night.
The Zombies’ 1964 debut single ‘She’s Not There’ has become a classic tune. I still wonder what happened to this girl in the song, who is no longer amongst us although she is still alive.
The Cramps are at it again with ‘Zombie Dance’ in which nobody moves…
At the Zombie Dance / Here’s Ben and Betty
They tap their toes / But they don’t get sweaty
They don’t give a damn / They’re done dead already
ARE YOU A GOOD WITCH OR A BAD WITCH?
‘Witchcraft’ by Frank Sinatra was a hit in 1957. It was recorded by many others including Sarah Vaughan and Peggy Lee.
‘I Put a Spell on You’ was the only major hit by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (but a great one it was)! It’s sort of a scary voodoo waltz with cool saxophone breaks commanding and possessing a lover beyond her control. Hawkins staged eccentric and theatrical shows, wearing outlandish costumes and using his operatic voice to wild extremes. He sometimes emerged from a coffin on-stage. He used props such as skull heads and snakes, chattering false teeth and he wore bones in his nose. Hawkins was one of the first shock-rockers, inspiring Alice Cooper, Screaming Lord Sutch and countless others. Bryan Ferry also does a beautiful cover of this song on his 1991 album Taxi.
Bryan Ferry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abm4YvUAqs4
‘Witchy Woman’ by The Eagles has American Indian style drumming at the start. It was written by Don Henley after he had read a biography about the enchanting Zelda, the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The character Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby about the Roaring Twenties is allegedly modeled after Zelda, who ended up going mad.
‘Evil Woman’ by Electric Light Orchestra appears on their 1975 album Face The Music.
‘Season of the Witch’ by Donovan sounds like he is channeling Jim Morisson . Jimmy Page is on guitar.
‘Yes I’m a Witch’ is from Yoko Ono’s album A Story (recorded 1974, released 1997). It was later remixed for 2007 album “Yes, I’m a Witch”. It’s one of her many early feminist songs.
When you discovered your earlier songs to be about today, did you feel like a soothsayer, a doomsayer, a saint, a witch?
Many people think of me as a witch, and I hated it at first, but then I thought, it’s okay. A man is called a wizard, and a woman is called a witch. What a difference, isn’t it?
– Yoko, New York Magazine, August 20, 2018
Yes, I’m a witch, I’m a bitch / I don’t care what you say
My voice is real / My voice speaks truth
I don’t fit in your ways / I’m not gonna die for you
You might as well face the truth /I’m gonna stick around for quite awhile
‘What’s Behind the Mask?’ appears on The Cramps’ album Songs the Lord Taught Us. The patients at Napa State Mental Hospital especially enjoyed having The Cramps playing this song live for them in 1984!
So, what’s behind the mask? “Sorry I ever asked.”
Watch Live @ Napa State Mental Hospital: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIQYhhji9Ts
‘Mask’ is on Iggy Pop’s kick-ass 2001 album Beat ‘Em Up with his band The Trolls. He did a killer performance of this song to a mortified audience on The David Letterman Show wearing a broccoli necklace and reprising the shiny silver evening gloves from his Stooges days.
“You’re wearing a mask / you look better that way”
The Ramones song ‘Pet Sematary’ is on their 1989 Brain Drain. The lyrics were written by Dee Dee Ramone for the Stephen King movie (just before he left the Ramones for his own hip hop career). The single got lots of radio play. The video was shot at New York’s Sleepy Hollow cemetery.
Follow Victor to the sacred place
This ain’t a dream, I can’t escape
Molars and fangs, the clicking of bones
Spirits moaning among the tombstones
And the night, when the moon is bright
Someone cries, something ain’t right
I don’t want to be buried in a pet cemetery
I don’t want to live my life again
See more in my Playlist category
About A Song
Also see my upcoming story NEXT WEEK: Music & Monsters
Eat to the Beat
Music & Monsters: The Peanuts
a.k.a. Emi & Yumi Ito, a.k.a. The Mothra twins