Happy Holidays: A Very Melancholy Halloween Playlist!

I like sometimes to become a caricature of myself. So here’s a spooky playlist just in time for Halloween. But as you might have guessed with a decidedly melancholy twist! Exactly what you want… if you’re me.

1.) John Wayne Gacy, Jr. by Sufjan Stevens

Duh. I feel like I don’t really need to explain this one. “He dressed up like a clown for them” really does all the work of justifying this song for me. Think about this song when you’re walking around at night. Assured to bring shivers to the back of your neck.

2.) Shankill Butchers by The Decemberists

Another pretty obvious pick here. I could probably have put almost all any number of Decemberists songs here. It’s kind of their jam and why I love them so much. Combination of creepy narrative with melancholy folk music. Twanging vocals. Mmm. Can’t beat it. Shankill Butchers is the delightful warning of what might occur if you don’t mind your mother’s words. Everybody moan. Everybody shake.

3.) Carissa by Sun Kil Moon

What is Halloween about, but keeping away the dread of death one year longer? So what is more terrifying than realizing yet again that death is hiding in every corner, every bag of trash, every aerosol can? And what’s more eerie than coincidental freak accidents?

4.) Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead

We’re all slowly becoming ghosts. Dying by degrees in our little suburban houses. And what’s more, we’ve done this before. And are inevitably going to do it again. We’re destined by the karmic cycle to continue returning, fading, returning, and fading. If that’s not spooky, what is!

5.) Culling of the Fold by The Decemberists

You can never have too much Decemberists, people. Plus how often do you get to hear the phrase “Ply her heart with gold and silver”? Not enough is my guess.

6.) Watching The Planets by The Flaming Lips

Oh Flaming Lips. You do so much good things. We’ve got an amazing eerie use of chimes and distortion from the very beginning. And what I’m interpreting to be some sort of Satanic rituals. Burning the Bible, for example. Followed by watching the eagle fly. Plenty of Halloweenish things to dig out of it.

7.) Two Headed Boy by Neutral Milk Hotel

“I can hear as you tap on your jar”. Let’s be real. This song is terrifying. And sad. Very very sad. Take a moment and think about all the grotesque little creatures you’ve ever seen in science rooms or old-fashioned circus sideshows. Think about the bizarre. The pathetic. The genetic mutations too sad to survive. This is the song for all of them.

8.) Ghost Under Rocks by Ra Ra Riot

Strings. Also, this just reminds me of my freshman year at Carleton when we sang this a Capella and it was the best thing ever. And it can’t be Halloween without Ghosts!

9.) Damn These Vampires by The Mountain Goats

If you haven’t figured out my preference for weird male vocalists… you maybe should. We’re all sleeping like dead men, waking up like dead men. I don’t really feel like I need to work too hard to justify this one either.

10.) Demons by The National

Beyond the title, there’s a lot to recommend this song for the list. There’s the existential horror of combating and losing to the demons we carry around inside us. Not to mention the alligators in the sewers, the pythons and the limbs. The passing buzzards in the sky. We’re all destined to see the horror of our souls projected onto the world at large.

11.) Bonus Track: It’s Halloween by The Shaggs

I can’t not. Even Dracula will be there!

So put on a costume and head out into the streets to drown your ennui with candy and festivities! Happy early Halloween!

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