My Top 10 Halloween Songs

Happy Halloween, everyone!!!

mantel

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).

Rolling Stones

(Original source unknown)

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).

warren zevon

(Original source unknown)

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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(Original source unknown)

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).

Peter Green

(Original source unknown)

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). 

MonsterMash

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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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“And The Stars Look Very Different Today…”

Not even two weeks into the new year and we already have a devastating loss in the world of music.  David Bowie, the 1970’s rock icon who transformed himself over and over throughout his illustrious career, died after an 18 month battle with cancer on January 10.  He was 69 years old.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard Young/REX (100574d) David Bowie DAVID BOWIE AT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL - 1983

        Photo by Richard Young 1983

Born David Robert Jones in London on January 8, 1947, he changed his last name to avoid confusion with the other Davey Jones in The Monkees.  Bowie’s  musical career began with his break through album “Space Oddity” in 1969 and he spent the 1970’s establishing himself as a glam rock, art rock musician like no other with songs like “Changes“, “Golden Years“, “Rebel Rebel” and “Suffragette City“.  He easily segued from his Ziggy Stardust persona of the 70’s to the suave, well dressed gentleman in a string of 1980’s videos for hits like “Modern Love“, “Let’s Dance“, “China Girl” and “Blue Jean“.

Not only did Bowie do great work as a solo artist, but his collaborations were stunning as well.  Aside from his ground-breaking work with the likes of Lou Reed, Brian Eno and Iggy Pop, Bowie also worked with John Lennon on “Fame“,  covered the Motown classic “Dancing In The Streets” with Mick Jagger, joined Bing Crosby for a wonderful collaboration of “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” and teamed up with rock group Queen for “Under Pressure“, to name a few.  These collaborations showed how innovative, versatile and truly unique Bowie’s musical genius was.

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Source:  ultimateclassicrock.com

Bowie also had several acting roles, most notably in the movies (he played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s film “The Last Temptation Of Christ” as well as roles in “The Man Who Fell To Earth” and “The Linguini Incident“) and on the Broadway stage (he played the title role in “The Elephant Man” in 1980-1981).  He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1996 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by David Byrne of The Talking Heads.  On January 8 2016, on what was Bowie’s 69th birthday, his last recording “Blackstar” was released.

My two best memories of Bowie after his collaborations are when the TV series “Without A Trace” used “Space Oddity” in Anthony LaPaglia’s signature episode entitled “John Michaels“.  The second was Bowie’s performance at the Concert For NYC in 2001.  He was humble and grateful to the men and women who kept his adopted home of Manhattan safe and showed that with a stand out performance of “Heroes”.  I cannot seem to find that performance online, so here is that song from his “Live By Request” show a year later in 2002.

Rest in peace, David Bowie.  “And may God’s love be with you”.

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Source:  livinglifeboomerstyle.com

Please note that I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some of my favorite music with you.

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #1

The #1 song on the countdown was called “the greatest love song of the past 50 years” when it was released in 1969 by none other than Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.  It also has the distinct honor of being the most covered Beatles song second only to “Yesterday”.  The top song on my list is…drum roll please…”Something” by the Beatles.

Inspired by James Taylor’s 1968 song “Something In The Way She Moves” and written by George Harrison for his first wife, Pattie Boyd, the song was the masterpiece of his career as a Beatle.  It was released on the album “Abbey Road” and issued with “Come Together” as a double single which hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969.

That was the Beatles 18th chart topper, putting them one song ahead of Elvis Presley’s previous record of 17.  A video of the Beatles and their wives set to the song was also released that year to promote it and the album amid rumors that a break up of the Fab Four was imminent.

Harrison’s lyrics expressed  both his love for his wife while acknowledging the uncertainty that is the future:

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around now it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Legends including Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, James Brown, Elton John & Willie Nelson have covered “Something” either on record or live in concert.  Sadly Harrison’s marriage to Boyd did not grow, as she eventually left him for his best friend, Eric Clapton.  But that’s another song (“Layla” to be exact).

After the Beatles broke up, Harrison went on to have a successful solo career and hosted one of the first benefit concerts ever-1971’s Concert for Bangladesh.

The Beatles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1988 by Mick Jagger and Harrison was inducted as a solo artist in 2004 by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who were members of Harrison’s other band-the Traveling Wilburys .

As if the attacks of 9/11/01 were not devastating enough to the world that year, two months after those tragedies we lost George Harrison to cancer, which left only two of the four Beatles around to carry on the legacy of one of the greatest bands of all time.  Sigh 😦

There you have it, Vixens-my picks for the top 14 love songs.  Hope I included some of your favorites or helped you discover some new ones.

***BONUS:  One of my favorite songs is named “Valentine” and it is by E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren, with a little help from the Boss himself.

***BONUS TWO:  If you have never seen the Golden Girls episode entitled “Valentine’s Day“, take about 20 minutes out now to watch it.  I love all their episodes, but this one is in their top 10.

Enjoy!!!