Boy, how times have changed. The television commercial build-up to Halloween almost rivals that of Christmas in it’s excess. In between almost constant commercials for candy, which frankly, like bourbon I’m highly susceptible to, you’ll see commercials for all manner of Halloween costumes. This year, for reasons unclear to me, there seems to be a SuperHero theme to all the kiddy costumes. I see Spiderman, Superman and in a nice gesture to the girls, Wonder Woman. That’s not how it was when I was a kid. Every year, I’d ask if we were going to get a costume and every year my dad made me go as the same thing. He’d get out an old suit coat. He’d dress me in old jeans and a dirty t-shirt, wipe black shoe polish on my chin to make it look like I was unshaven and voila, I was what he called, a hobo. Every fucking year I went out to trick or treat as a hobo, which was an old time-y word for a homeless person. My father wouldn’t even spend the 50 cents to get me a fake beard, and believe me, shoe polish doesn’t come off easy… It was the cheapest costume available and took literally no planning for my parents to put together. Not that I’m bitter… It wasn’t like that when I met the Rock chick. The first year we did Halloween, she dressed her daughter up in the most elaborate Padme costume, in the full make-up and headgear from The Phantom Menace. It was impressive, although slightly embarrassing when prior to seeing her elaborate costume I asked, “Do you want to borrow one of my old suit coats for the hobo costume?” only to receive blank stares.
I was watching the news the other day and they had a pre-Halloween trick-or-treating event at Arrowhead Stadium, home of my beloved if not star-crossed Chiefs. That’s another thing that’s changed since I was a kid, the manner of how kids trick or treat these days. Everybody goes to the mall or work or some other controlled environment to do their trick-or-treating. Again, not so when I was a kid. After outfitting me as a hobo, basically unrecognizable, my parents would send me and my friends out alone. We roamed all over the neighborhood and beyond. And this wasn’t just me and my friends, there were mobs of kids running wild in the streets, every where you went. God knows what sort of predators we managed to slip past… If you were to do that today, the State Child Care folks would show up with a van and take us all to foster care.
I haven’t even mentioned the hooligan-ism we were out there promoting. Everybody I trick-or-treated with had lifted a few eggs from the fridge for throwing at houses (I couldn’t steal eggs, my mother was so frugal she counted ours) and a roll of toilet paper or two for unsuspecting trees. We were like a roving gang of homeless hobo’s hell bent for destruction. Nowadays, every kid who used to come by the house, when I lived in a house, had their parents with them, standing out on the sidewalk, typically rolling a wagon with a cooler of beer perched on it. Where’s the danger, people?
I’d begun to reach the stage in life where I would treat all holidays like Thanksgiving… I show up, eat, drink, watch football and try to nap. That gets awkward if we’re in a bar or at a party… But then, something happened to change my opinion of this new Halloween. A number of years ago, the Rock Chick and I went to a Rocktober concert featuring none other than the Cult. These were all adults, the 21-and-over crowd, and as it was a few days prior to Halloween, all these young adults were dressed in costumes. Half the women were dressed as slutty nurses and the other half were dressed as slutty vampires. Stop the press, I thought, perhaps the danger and fun had returned to Halloween… This might be something worth investigating…
Nowadays, I live downtown. I can see the Halloween partier’s comings and goings from my local taverns and restaurants from the safety of my rooftop… No little kids come by, they can’t get past the moat. The Rock Chick misses seeing the children in their costumes, but that doesn’t bother me. But I realized after last year, that I needed some music to go with my bourbon and over-sized Reese’s peanut butter cups. My father was always a fan of that awful tune, “Monster’s Mash.” He’d laugh like a kid when that came on. This year I decided to put together a little play list of my own. I looked for ghosts, witches, goblins, warlocks, devils, demons and the like. I was looking for something that would provide me with that old school, dangerous, evil vibe. Turn it up loud, and whatever you do, don’t let anybody give you an apple when you’re trick-or-treating… I learned that the hard way when I was a kid…
- AC/DC, “Hell’s Bells” – You’ve got to start the Halloween playlist with a tune that sets the atmosphere…. that tolling bell!
- Van Halen, “Running With the Devil” – Who else to run with on Halloween?
- Bad Company, “Evil Wind” – “Evil wind, pay me no mind…”
- The Cure, “Lullaby” – A song where creepy Robert Smith imagines being eaten by an even creepier spider.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Sisters of the Moon” – Stevie Nicks gets her funky witch on.
- Paul Simon, “The Werewolf” – We’ve got witches, we need a werewolf.
- The Faces, “Wicked Messenger” – The Faces doing a dark Dylan tune… spooky, baby.
- Slash (featuring Ian Astbury), “Ghost” – Ironically, ghost was another easy costume my parents dressed me in by merely throwing an old sheet over my head.
- Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer” – Real life monsters are scarier than any folk tale…
- Queens of the Stone Age, “Head Like a Haunted House” – There was a place in my neighborhood that they said was haunted… we didn’t trick-or-treat there… not sure I’d go there even today.
- Dave Matthews Band, “Halloween” – An especially tortured vocal for the holiday.
- Alice Cooper, “Welcome To My Nightmare” – You gotta invite the King of Scary to the party.
- Derek and the Dominos, “Evil” – Clapton covering a Willie Dixon song originally done by Howlin Wolf…
- The Who, “Boris the Spider” – Yeah, cheesy but I love the bass line.
- AC/DC, “Evil Walks” – Yes, I could have put the whole AC/DC catalog on here… This one feels like trick-or-treating music.
- Bruce Springsteen, “A Night With the New Jersey Devil” – A rare blues tune from the Boss… tortured vocal and harmonica…
- Rob Zombie, “Living Dead Girl” – I just love Rob Zombie and all his scary music.
- The White Stripes, “Little Ghost” – “Little ghost, little ghost, one I’m scared of the most.”
- The Jeff Beck Group, “Ain’t Superstitious” – “… but a black cat just crossed my path.”
- White Zombie, “American Witch” – A quick return to the list for Rob Zombie, scary bastard.
- Credence Clearwater Revival, “Bad Moon Rising” – Another great mood setter for Halloween.
- The Cult, “The Witch” – I was surprised at the large number of witch songs out there… this is a great one.
- Motley Crue, “Shout At the Devil” – I’m not sure what good the shouting will do, but yes, please do shout!
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Warlocks” – We have plenty of witches, nice to see the male side of the equation covered. Scary and funky!
- Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark At the Moon” – I can’t get the video image from my head… Ozzy running around as a werewolf. Howl, Ozzy, howl.
- INXS, “The Devil Inside” – There’s a little bit of good and a little bit of evil in all of us… except of course, my Sainted Mother, she’s all good.
- The Rolling Stones, “Midnight Rambler” – What’s scarier than a serial killer?
- David Bowie, “Scary Monsters & Super Creeps” – Cold, spooky, synthesizer and howling guitar.
- Ryan Adams, “Halloweenhead” – “Head full of tricks and treats…”
- Black Sabbath, “The Wizard” – One of two Sabbath tracks here.
- John Lennon, “Scared” – How else are you supposed to feel on Halloween?
- Metallica, “Enter Sandman” – Only Metallica can take the fable of the Sandman and make it this menacing.
- Black Sabbath, “Lady Evil” – Yes, it’s another Sabbath tune, but this one is sung by Dio. “There’s a place just south of Witch’s Valley…”
- Alice In Chains, “Man In The Box” – All of that “Jesus Christ, deny you maker” stuff sounds like the Exorcist to me. Scary track and yet I’m still not sure what it’s about.
- The Rolling Stones, “Sympathy For the Devil” – Isn’t this the crux of Halloween? “Pleased to meet you…. won’t you guess my name?”
As usual, I probably missed a few choice tunes, so season this playlist to taste, as they say. If you feel like it, please add your ideas for other Halloween songs in the Comments section.
Trick or Treat?