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Haunted Songs: Murder Ballads, Ghost Solos & The Devil's Chord

Tag(s): Show host blog

It's time to take the skeletons out of the closet, and put them in the yard! We might decorate ourselves and join in the ghost parade. We may take a peek into the mouth of horror, a dark cave of unknown things.

What lurks in the dark? What will we find when we stand at death's door?

That most primal of emotions, fear, must be taken out and exercised, or exorcised.

So here is a night gallery, a collection of spooky songs. Like funhouse rides and mirror mazes at the Parish Fair.

A soundscape for the lengthening shadows of late October.

Here are a few of my favorites that have been heard on The Blues Breakdown. After all, Blues Music has long been called "The Devil's Music".

In no particular order.

The Raven

(performed by Dave Alexander aka Omar Sharriff, Omar Hakim Khayam (born March 10, 1938,

Shreveport, Louisiana)

From the first tinkling of minor chords on the piano keys this haunting tune conjures a dark carnival of images.

In folklore and "superstitions" crows may be a messenger of the devil, they may portend a death. They are also a spirit totem, or witch's familiar on consort. This song also mentions a rare fortean event: rains of blood. "Where were you... when blood fell in the streets just like rain".

Brujo

(performed by Screamin' Jay Hawkins)

It is hard to choose just one spooky song by Screamin' Jay, since that was his forte'. This is the one we played last Friday.

"Brujo" is Spanish for sorcerer, or male witch. This was recorded late in the long life of Jalacy Hawkins.

This is a creepy ballad, as told by a mysterious barstool philosopher, who may well be the devil himself.

Goo Goo Muck (performed by Ronnie & the Gaylords, released on a Norton 45 RPM record)

This is the original version, later covered by The Cramps. A tale of the horror of the monster that lurks inside all of us: our animal nature. Especially notable in the Teenage Boy Humans among us. "When the sun goes down, and the moon comes up, I turn into a teenage goo goo muck".

Loup Garou

(there are at least two, maybe more songs titled thus. Gatemouth Brown and Dr. John recorded the same titled, but totally different tunes.)

The loup Garou is the French name for Werewolf. I have heard it usually pronounced Roux Garou. The Loup Garou is more than just a wolf/man combo, it is a shapeshifter. A supernatural being that can change it's shape at will. The most famous image of a Loup Garou is the Blue Dog, as painted by George Rodrigue.

Dr. John.

Of course I cannot list just one spooky song recorded by Mac Rebennack AKA Dr. John. I Walk on Gilded Splinters is a favorite. But, more spooky and less heard are songs such as "Black Widow Spider" (Babylon).

I Hear Satin (performed by Dax Riggs).

Dax riggs' repertoire of Southern Gothic masterpieces is not short on spooky and haunted songs, but this is one of my favorites. Also notable is "Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain".

Creature with the Atom Brain

(performed by Roky Erickson & The Aliens).

Roky Erickson virtually invented psychedelic rock, back in the Sixties. But after a series of unfortunate events, and maybe too much L.S.D, he spent some years in a mental institution for the criminally insane. In the notorious, and now shut down Rusk Institution he got some shock treatments and formed a band with a bunch of serial killers and child killers.

When he got out, his songs took a turn to the dark side (and who could blame him). I am not exactly sure what "Creature with the Atom Brain" is about, so you must listen and tell me...

Crow Jane

(performed by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds). Crow Jane is a traditional murder ballad. Although this version is completely original and rumor has it, based on a true story. The story concerns one rather odd woman, who is raped by a gang of outback minors. She then visits "Mr. Smith & Mr. Wesson"...Nick Cave tells the whole lurid story in his most cryptic and picturesque dark poetry.

These are just a few of my favorite spooky and haunted tunes. Happy Halloween!

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