Thirteen songs are enough to anchor a good Halloween party playlist. Not all of these are on your iPod, I’ll bet either. If your friends are like mine, their creativity shines brighter when they have a set theme to work on. The theme of this party could be “Ghost Town” and folks could dress up like ghosts or Wild West characters.
1) (The Obvious) Ghostbusters (From “Ghostbusters”) by Ray Parker Jr (or should I say Huey Lewis… a lawsuit alleged that the melody is highly reminiscent of “I Need a New Drug” but frankly the bass line of BOTH songs sounds like “Pop Muzik” by M) If you can get the video to “I’m in Love with the Other Woman” see if you can project that somewhere because it features a haunted house. This track is so obvious that is has to go somewhere. Succumb.
2) (Ghost) Riders In The Sky by, heck hasn’t EVERY authentic country western group recorded a version of this classic? – If I had to pick one, I think The Highwaymen did a serviceable rendition. Consider using several different versions of this track on the playlist, as a refrain. The Cowboy Cultural Society, an internet radio station, often plays a half hour of “G.R.I.T.S.” with different versions.
3) My Wife and My Dead Wife” by Robyn Hitchcock off Fegmania. This is a subtle alternative/folks ballad about domestic troubles caused when a husband is torn between his current wife and his dead ex. Told with Hitchcock’s typical irony yet with heart of genuine emotion. A nicely sing-able chorus too.
4) Ghost Of A Texas Ladies Man by Concrete Blonde. A little more raucous alternative rock tune by the band that brought you “Joey.”
5) Johnson’s Love (LP Version) – Dwight Yoakam. Straight ahead country. Mournful tale of a love that lasts longer than life.
6) Haunted House Blues— Bessie Smith. Do you really need a reason to put Bessie Smith on a playlist? She carved out a gutsy place for the female voice within blues of the early 20th century. A fun surprise from 1924.
7) The Ghost In You (Album Version) – The Psychadelic Furs. Moody, haunting love song that makes you want to mousse up your hair and wear tight 80’s style pants. Does she love you? Is she dead? Who knows, but it’s all sadness and doom. The Counting Crows do a just-as-sad acoustic cover version of The Ghost In You
8) The Ghost Of You— My Chemical Romance. A sad song to be sure, especially with the repeated line “Never coming home.” Since music and music videos have become fused in our culture and in our minds, it’s hard to hear the song without thinking of scenes of soldiers getting one last dance at the USO before they head off to the trenches of WWII.
9) Wuthering Heights— Kate Bush. Like a bit of literature mixed in with your art pop music? Kate Bush delivers a lovely concoction in this emotional song which went on to become her biggest selling single. Sung from the point of view of Catherine, who pleads outside Heathcliff’s room “I’m so cold. Let me into your window.” The lyrics take on a sinister twist if one considers the events of the novel; she may well be a ghost, inviting Heathcliff to join her in death.
10) Walking With A Ghost (Album Version)–Tegan and Sara. A good song to dance to while trying to exorcise the ghost of a ex-boyfriend or the nightmare you had last evening. Covered by the White Stripes too.
11) Spirit In The Sky — Norman Greenbaum. The tune combines psychedelic rock and gospel music with its distorted electric guitars, loud drums, tambourines and hand-clapping background singers to produce a feel-good song about meeting up with the Spirit in the afterlife.
12) My Life As A Ghost— Tanya Donelly. A sweet and sad song from the ghost’s point of view. She’s happy as she follows him around but seemingly has no impact on him.
13) Walking In Memphis (Remastered)— Marc Cohn. Anthematic 1991 hit from singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. The guy in the lyrics follows the ghost of Elvis to the gates of Graceland and later rock outs with a gospel band.
Songs about ghosts are always appropriate but are especially welcome at Halloween!