Halloween songs, retro and vintage
THE MONSTER MASH
Whether it’s the 1962 version by Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and the Crypt Kickers or the 1969 one by The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band, I love this song. Pickett’s is more rock and roll, the Bonzos’ more anarchic, as you’d expect.
I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
It has to be the original Screamin’ Jay Hawkins version from 1956. HAS to be. Steamy, dirty, raucous. If you must get a different version, make it Nina Simone’s one from 1956. Or spoil yourself, get both.
Deeply silly in a way only 1950s songs could be, the ‘Ooh-ee-ooh-ah-ah’ chorus will get stuck in your head and you’ll find yourself singing this for days. Ross Bagdasarian aka David Seville did the original version.
Save this Jimi Hendrix classic for late in the party – I reckon Hendrix is always best heard when you’re a bit squiffy.
WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE
Actually, while this 1975 album wasn’t written specifically for Halloween, I could include the whole of Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare LP in my favourite Halloween songs list. You know how I say I’m not keen on the 1970s? Alice is one of the exceptions. I love the cartoony-creepy quality to his music, and the title track to Welcome… (by far my favourite Alice Cooper album) has it in spades. I do indeed ‘feel right at home’ with it.
If you get the chance to see the episode of The Muppet Show with Alice in, where he’s trying to get the Muppets to sell their souls, I’d definitely recommend it, although it scared the pants off me as a kid. (On the subjects of Muppets and Halloween, over at Art of Darkness Cobwebs has a clip of the Swedish Chef carving pumpkins.)
BELA LUGOSI’S DEAD
One of the classic old goth songs, from 1979. Possibly the classic old goth song (heh, that statement would’ve started an argument on Usenet in the late 1990s…). Anyway, from the spine ruffling, scratchy intro to the wonderful lyrics (‘The bats have left the belltower, the victims have been bled, red velvet lines the black box, Bela Lugosi’s dead’) this is a song eminently suitable for Halloween. It was used in the opening scenes of iconic early-80s vampire film The Hunger too.