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). 

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(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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(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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(Original source unknown)

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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(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). 

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(Original source unknown)

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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Rock ‘N’ Roll Fantasies & A Song

It still isn’t feeling much like spring yet, despite the fact that last week’s storm gave us only about two inches of snow.  And estate sales have been few and far between thanks to the weather and the upcoming Easter holiday.  I needed a break from the ballast of everyday living, so I did the only thing I could do-I went for a ride to listen to some music.  It’s like a mini-vacation for my soul.

My mind goes to so many different places as I drive, and one of the things I kept thinking about was how many artists I have been lucky enough to see in my life, but especially in the last several years because I could capture a moment of the show with my cell phone.

The quality is not the best on some of these shots, but here are several of the people I have been fortunate to see live.

Chris Isaak:

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Marc Cohn:

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Stevie Nicks (in her different looks):

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Todd Rundgren:

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The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin (who celebrated her 76th birthday yesterday):

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Yusuf Islam (f/k/a Cat Stevens):

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Sir Ringo Starr:

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And The Boss, of course:

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I do not have any shows to go to yet for 2018, but with the arrival of spring and the upcoming summer, I am sure it is just a matter of time before a few I want to attend are announced.  Then I will be able to add to this picture collection.

What concerts are you hoping to attend this year?

For this week’s song, I reached back to a band that released their ground-breaking self-titled debut record, “Boston”, in 1976.  Two years later, the group released “Don’t Look Back” and it is the title song that I played over and over during last week’s car ride.   Between Tom Scholz empowering lyrics and Brad Delp’s soaring vocals, it’s hard to feel anything but unshackled and free of the past with words like these:

A new day is breakin’
It’s been too long since I felt this way
I don’t mind where I get taken
The road is callin’
Today is the day”

“It’s a bright horizon and I’m awakin’ now
Oh I see myself in a brand new way
The sun is shinin’
The clouds are breakin’
‘Cause I can’t lose now, there’s no game to play

I do not own the rights to the song.  I am just sharing something that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy digging!!!

Christmas Song Countdown #14

Hello, Vixens!!!  Welcome back to the countdown!!!

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Courtesy:  cctrees.us 

I am not a fan of reality shows, so I do not watch them.  I knew who the first winner of “American Idol” was because of all the publicity surrounding that season, so after that I really did not know anything about the competitors until Daughtry (sa-woon!!!).

So the winner of Season 4 was not on my radar.  But then her song, “Before He Cheats” was everywhere, and I remember thinking is it really a good idea for someone to be bragging about a crime (“Carved my name into his leather seats, I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights, I slashed a hole in all four tires”) ?  I must admit I was not impressed.

Then I saw her perform live at the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. She joined Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt & Emmy Lou Harris in a tribute to Linda Ronstadt.

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Linda Rondstadt circa early 1970’s  (original source unknown)

This singer was so good even Stevie Nicks complimented her performance of “Different Drum“.  That is an amazing feat.  So is co-hosting the CMA Awards for  eight years straight.  So now I am a little impressed.  Especially after hearing her take on this Christmas classic.

Carrie Underwood:  The First Noel.

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

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Until next time, fellow Vixens, happy listening!!!

silver-bells

Original source unknown

Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #8

The next song on my countdown is another duet (like song #14) but this one features a female/male collaboration by two of rock music’s most notable voices.  My pick at #8, a song which reached #6 on the Hot 100 Chart in 1982, is “Leather & Lace“.

The song was written by legendary singer/songwriter/Fleetwood Mac band member Stevie Nicks who recorded it with one of her old flames, Don Henley of the Eagles.  Nicks originally wrote the song for country superstar Waylon Jennings and his wife Jesse Colter’s 1981 album.  Despite naming it after the song, the husband & wife duo ended up leaving it off the record (I know, right???).

So Nicks added it to her debut solo album, “Bella Donna”, which was released the same year.  The song was the second single after “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around“, another duet recorded with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

“Leather & Lace” is like many of Nicks’ songs:  well written and well performed.  But the biggest appeal of it for me is how grown up and unschmaltzy the lyrics  are.  I love how direct they are, and how in their beautiful honesty you hear the story of love between adults, first from the perspective of the strong self-assured woman:

“I have my own life and I am stronger
Than you know
But I carry this feeling
When you walked into my house
That you won’t be walking out the door”

To the open and honest standpoint of the male putting it out there without fear of being shot down or belittled (OK yes, it is written by a woman but come on, Ladies, which one of us would not melt if a man ever said (or sang) these words to us):

“And you were right
When I walked into your house
I knew I’d never want to leave
Sometimes I’m a strong man
Sometimes cold and scared
And sometimes I cry”

To both parties acknowledging their desires and differences not as obstacles, but rather as things to be shared:

“I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather
Take from me my lace”

If there was ever a song perfect enough to celebrate that all important moment when a couple crosses over from “we” to “us”, I believe it is this one.

Enjoy!!!

BONUS:  If you want a good laugh, check out Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl’s version here.

TRIVIA:  Do you know what happened 51 years ago today?  The Beatles arrived in America for the first time.