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wonders never cease Wednesday, October 28, 2009

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28th, 2009 play list of the week: 13 creepy ones

[caption id="attachment_1734" align="alignleft" width="228" caption="click to listen"]click to listen[/caption]This week, we decided to take the conventional route and celebrate the spirit of All Hallows Eve. We do love us some Halloween, and we’ll take any chance we get to draw attention to the creepy but brilliant songs of Warren Zevon, Danny Elfman, The Cramps, and our beloved Vandaveer. WARNING - these songs are not for the faint of heart:

1. "This Is Halloween" - Danny Elfman The opening track from Tim Burton’s amazing The Nightmare before Christmas. Elfman may be best known for writing the theme song to The Simpsons, but he’s been a master of gleeful macabre music since his early successes with (The Mystic Knights of the) Oingo Boingo, which brought us several Halloween soundtrack staples like “Dead Man’s Party” and “Nothing Bad Ever Happens.”

2. "Werewolves of London" - Warren Zevon The biggest hit from Zevon’s breakout album, 1978’s Excitable Boy, on which the title track is a song about a sociopath’s horrifying prom night. We were hard pressed to pass up that track, as well as "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" and "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead," but a hit song about a debonair Lycan which casually mentions that a “little old lady got mutilated late last night” and warns that “he’ll rip your lungs out” but only draws a response of “I’d like to meet his tailor” just sealed the deal.

3. "The Streets is Full of Creeps" – Vandaveer The title alone makes this track Halloween-worthy, but the slow twang of the acoustic guitar sets the mood for the haunting lyrics about a jaded beat cop who opens fire on the citizens of his town, saving the last bullet for himself.

4. "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" - The Cramps This humorous surf-rock tune hears Lux Interior and pals revisit Michael Landon's 1957 horror film of the same name on their 1980 debut album, Songs the Lord Taught Us. We passed over classic Cramps Halloween tunes like "Surfin' Dead," "Eyeball in My Martini," and "Big Black Witchcraft Rock," even though it opens with the line “Satan, baby, Satan!”

5. "Me and the Devil Blues" - Robert Johnson Legendary soul-seller gives a brave, matter-of-fact portrayal of paying the devil his due in this immortal blues classic. While we understand the crossroads bargain that made Johnson one of the greatest guitarists of all time, we can’t figure out why the Delta-bluesman didn’t hold out for a clause in his contract that let him live past the age of 27.

6. "Little Ghost" - The White Stripes A charming song from the garage-rock superstars’ eclectic fifth album, Get Behind Me Satan, Jack and Meg sing sweetly about a disappointing longing for an apparition, bemoaning “I'm the only one that sees you, and I can't do much to please you, and it's not yet time to meet the lord above.”

7. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" – Bauhaus The first release from the goth rock pioneers, this is probably one of rock’s creepiest songs about one film’s creepiest guys, replete with lyrics like “the bats have left the bell tower, the victims have been bled.” Peter Murphy’s melancholy vocals, which don’t join the music until several minutes in, give morose, minimalist imagery to the funeral proceedings for the original film Dracula, who was actually buried in his Dracula costume.

8. "Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads With a driving baseline and lyrics alternating between French and English, David Byrne delves into the mind of the serial killer, once explaining that he wrote the lyrics imagining “Alice Cooper doing a Randy Newman-type ballad.”

9. “Up Jumped the Devil" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Dark lyrics from the gravel voiced Aussie, opening with “Oh my, Oh my, what a wretched life! I was born on the day that my poor mother died. I was cut from her belly with a Stanley knife. My daddy did a jig with the drunk midwife.” The song actually gets darker from there.

10. "Devil Town" - Bright Eyes Only Daniel Johnston could report on waking up in a Devil Town and discover that “All my friends were vampires, didn’t know they were vampires, turns out I was a vampire myself” but Conor Oberst adds a nice touch in his cover from Johnston’s 2004 project The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered.

11. "Don't Fear the Reaper" - Blue Oyster Cult According to writer and lead guitarist Buck Dharma, this is actually a song about eternal love, not death. Dharma once said he was “actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something... It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners.”

12. "Halloween" - Siouxsie and the Banshees A fitting homage to the duality of the holiday, Siouxsie and her spectral mates rattle out a rocking reminder, singing “Trick or treat, trick or treat, the bitter and the sweet.”

13. "The End" - The Doors A surreal song that starts as a simple goodbye but drifts into an Oedipal bloodbath, with Morrison’s vocals starting wistful and gentle but rising to a frightening crescendo while repeating a mantra of “Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill…”

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