My Top 10 Halloween Songs

Happy Halloween, everyone!!!

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Courtesy of Pinterest & ehomedecors.com (original source unknown)

You know for me it is all about the music, so I could not let this holiday pass without honoring it with my favorite songs (in no particular order), which are guaranteed to put you in a  Halloween mood.

1.  “I Put A Spell On You” (1956, written by Jalacy “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins).

 

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(Original source unknown)

The songwriter’s own version from 1956 is a powerful number all on its own.  But, there are several unbelievably intense & stunning covers you cannot miss by Nina Simone (1965), Annie Lennox (2014), Them featuring Van Morrison (1966), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968), Chaka Khan (2019) and of course, Winifred Sanderson a/k/a  Bette Midler (1993) from the film “Hocus Pocus”.

2.  “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones (1968, written by Mick Jagger & Keith Richards).

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From the opening beats of the congas combined with Jagger’s first scream, the Stones pull you into this masterpiece and refuse to let you go.  And honestly, you would not want to leave anyway.  There are several covers out there by respectable artists, but compared to the original they really are not even worth mentioning.

3.  “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band (1979, written by the Charlie Daniels Band). 

charlie daniels

(Original source unknown)

A fantastically fun song.  But how can a song about the devil be fun, you ask?  Just include a contest with a human, a ,smoking hot fiddle player and lyrics like “Chicken in a bread pan pickin’ out dough, Granny, does your dog bite? No child, no!” and you are all set.  Personal note:  This song is featured in one of my favorite episodes of “The Drew Carey Show” (season 2, episode 5:  “The Devil, You Say”) guest starring Grant Shaud (“Murphy Brown’s” Miles Silverberg) convinced he is the prince of darkness in the living flesh.  Watch it if you can find it.  I couldn’t. 

4.  “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon (1978, written by Warren Zevon, LeRoy Marinell & Waddy Wachtel).

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Zevon referred to this as a novelty song, and if that is so, it is undoubtedly one of the best of all time.  How could it not be with an opening line like “I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand”.  Wouldn’t that make a great costume???!!!  Adam Sandler did a more than respectable cover of this song on the 2004 Zevon tribute album, “Eat Every Sandwich”.  And you thought Sandler only sang about Hanukah!!!

5.  “Spooky” –Atlanta Rhythm Section (1979, written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr,)

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I adored this band from the first time I heard “So Into You” but fell in L-O-V-E with them thanks to “Imaginary Lover“.  It still makes me swoon.  But I digress.  Two members of the group, Dean Daughtry and James B. Cobb, Jr-who were previously members of the band which first recorded this song, the Classics IV-decided to record another version with their new group.  Two other versions you cannot miss are by Joan Osborne   (1998) and Dusty Springfield (1970).

6.  “Season of the Witch” – Donovan (1966, written by Donovan and Shawn Phillips).

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I am not a fan of folk Donavan, but psychedelic rock Donavan is a different story.  The music is undeniably from the late 1960’s but his vocals transcend the era.  There is some weight and a whole lot of feeling behind them that keeps up with the music perfectly so as not to be outdone.  If you can forgive the one dated reference to beatniks, you can enjoy this song anytime, but it is perfect for this time of year.  Al Kooper & Stephen Stills’ cover is a guitar & brass spin on the original and is absolutely worth a listen.  And if you are planning to see the movie “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”  you will hear a new version of the song by Lana Del Ray which is very well done.

7.  “Black Magic Woman” – Fleetwood Mac (1968, written by Peter Green).

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If you are a fan of this band you know they formed years before Lindsay Buckingham & Stevie Nicks joined them.  Peter Green was one of the founding members of the group  and wrote and recorded this song with them in 1968.  Prior to Fleetwood Mac he was a member of John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, joining them to fill the void left by Eric Clapton’s departure.  This song became more famous when it was covered by  Santana  in 1970 which featured Gregg Rolie on vocals.  He went on to join Journey, leading to him being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with each band.

8.  “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder (1972, written by Stevie Wonder).

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(Original source unknown)

The lyrics may evoke fear and trepidation, but the music is nothing but mesmerizing, from the opening drum beats to the synthesizer bass to the tenor sax and more.  It is a banquet of sounds that, as the line goes, keeps you in a daydream.   For an equally funky version, give Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble’s version from 1986 a listen.  It does not disappoint.  Wonder even participated in the video for Vaughn’s version by appearing at the end and singing a line from the song……..with a black cat in his arms.  Fabulous.

9.  “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Denmark & Winter  (2016, written by Buck Dharma).

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(Original source unknown)

Of course, Blue Oyster Cult’s 1976 original version is a classic, and that was years before the SNL cowbell skit.  But the indie band’s evocative stripped down version with its slower pace brings this song to a whole new level of intensity and beauty.

10.   Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers (1962, written by Bobby Pickett & Lenny Capizzi). 

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How can this not be on the list???  It is the embodiment of the holiday AND it has Darlene Love on backing vocals!!!  I grew up listening to this song every Halloween season thanks to my mom.  She would play it over and over again while we danced around the living room.  That is how I learned you are never too old for this holiday.  Two cover versions that are almost as popular as the original are by Vincent Price (1977) and Alvin & the Chipmunks ( 1994).     

Honorable mention:  “Psycho Killer” – The Talking Heads (1977, written by the Talking Heads).

Once the little hairs on the back of your neck relax after taking in the title of this song, the rest of your body becomes entranced by the remarkable baseline underscoring Byrne’s vocals in English and French punctuated by his fa-fa-fa’s.  Just genius.

What songs do you love for Halloween?

I hope your holiday is filled with more treats than tricks!!!

i got a rock.jpg(Courtesy of Charles M. Schulz/United Feature Syndicate)   

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!

 

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Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #6…..& A Happy Anniversary

Before we get to the countdown, let’s take a moment to recognize a happy anniversary-and one of the most important events to occur in music history.

On February  9, 1964 the Beatles made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  They performed “All My Loving”, “Till There Was You”, “She Loves You” “I Saw Her Standing There” & “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

Sunday nights, not to mention music itself, was never ever the same again.

For those of you lucky enough to have witnessed the performance the night it took place, you were part of history in the making plus you had a front row seat to the start of the British Invasion.

BONUS:  Congratulations to George Harrison who was honored with a Lifetime Achievements Award for his work as a solo artist at the Grammy Awards last night.

My #6 pick in the countdown is “A Song For You” by Ray Charles written by Leon Russell.

I never thought I could choose from the genius that is Charles.  After all, this is the man who took “America The Beautiful;” and made it seem as if it were written for only him.

Perhaps what made it easy to narrow down was the beautiful marriage of Charles’ voice with simplistic beauty of Russell’s lyrics:

“You taught me precious secrets
Of a true love, withholding nothing
You came out in front and I was hiding
Now I’m so much better
And if my words don’t come together
Listen to the melody
Cause my love is in there hiding

I love you in a place where there’s no space or time
I love you for my life
You’ re a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and I was singing this song to you”

This song earned Charles the 12th Grammy Award of his illustrious career in the category for Best Male R & B Performance in 1994.  There is nothing I can write about Ray Charles that has not already been written except that the world became a sadder place when we lost his voice in 2004.  He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame in 1986 by one of his closest friends, Quincy Jones.  Here’s one of my favorite songs the two did together, with a little help from Chaka Khan.

Enjoy!!!

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