Happy Halloween

Witches, zombies, monsters, werewolves, spells, pagan rituals. These are what come to mind when we think of Halloween, right? I explained a little of the background to Halloween, which derives from the Celtic festival of Samhain, in my post last weekend: For Halloween 2021. That was my annual serious message for this day, while today is the fun side, in which I celebrate with a few tunes very loosely based around some of those themes I mentioned. For the past couple of years I have shared a collection of songs, many of which I’d like to include again, but that could become repetitive and doesn’t really leave room for new choices, unless the post becomes incredibly long. So I’m going to mix a few of those older favourites with some newer choices. In the interest of brevity, I’ll also give you links to those which have been shared in previous years, but not this time.

I’ll begin with three of the previous selections. Having used that meme at the top of the post, there is really only one place I could start, isn’t there:

Those of you who are familiar with my posts will know that I usually give some details of each of the songs I share – chart placings and the like – but today is all about enjoying the music without me getting in the way. Think of this as my attempt at not being the annoying radio DJ who talks over the intro of songs and then fades them out before they have finished, so that we can hear them waffle a bit more. Not my style! I’ve said before that I am a big fan of the late, great Warren Zevon, and this is probably one of his two best known songs – the other is Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner, which probably gives you an idea of his sense of humour and why I like him so much!

But that’s enough of me, it’s time for the next tune. This is the one that is probably most associated with Halloween, for the video as much as the actual song;

Never let it be said that I short change you. That is the full 13 min 42 secs epic cinematic version of the video. There is a shorter cut, which I don’t think really does the song and the creativity of this piece much justice. If you want to know how popular this is, check out the YouTube viewing figures: just the 798m to date!

The final one I’m putting on repeat play is this one, which was a UK hit in my teenage years and has always been a lot of fun:

The video that has been created for that is, to my mind, brilliant, and always brings a smile to my face. In case you are missing them, or think that my selection is incomplete, here are links to the other songs I shared in previous years:

Come To The Sabbat – Black Widow

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr

Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley

Monster – The Automatic and

Witch Queen Of New Orleans – Redbone

And now for some new ones.

Continuing with the witch theme, this is one from another of my favourite bands:

Ian Anderson might not be able to mime, and he needed a visit to the dentist, but he could write a great song! I hadn’t realised quite how long ago this one was, and it frightens me that it has been 51 years! That clip from the BBC’s weekly Top Of The Pops show, which was essential viewing for us in those days, is a little time capsule. It was a real privilege to be asked to be in the audience, and the kids were told to dance and look happy for every song – it looks like this one wasn’t the easiest for them! And what teenager wore a cravat, even in those days? An older relative of Jacob Rees-Mogg, perhaps.

This next one isn’t strictly about any of the Halloween themes, but it certainly represents the horror:

As you may well know, the Rocky Horror Picture Show has become something of a cult since the movie was first released in 1975, and enjoys showings where the audience dress up as cast members and lip sync to the songs. It is set in Transylvania, which gives it its horror credentials, and is a parody of old B-movie horror films. It is great fun, even if, like me, you are too shy to dress up for it! The main performers in that song are Richard O’Brien, as Riff Raff, Patricia Quinn, as Magenta, and Nell Campbell, as Columbia. The main star of the movie was Tim Curry, who played the mad scientist, Dr Frank-N-Furter, but he wasn’t in this scene. Nor was Meat Loaf, who had a small role in the movie as Eddie, an ex-delivery man, who had just the one song. But Mr Loaf does have his own song which references this time of year, doesn’t he? Bats, Hell…

I haven’t done much about ghosts so far, have I? Let’s put that right:

I imagine I’m on safe ground thinking that both that song and the band will be new to you. Merry Hell are a folk-rock band from Wigan, in north west England. They have made a series of superb albums, none of which has got remotely near the UK charts, but they have a loyal following and play to packed houses wherever they go: they are a regular feature on the UK folk festivals scene and have played in Europe too. I think they deserve a wider audience.

Moving on, witchcraft is one of the main Halloween themes, and that puts me in mind of Black Magic, which can only mean one song. Santana did a great cover of this, but I prefer the original:

Don’t get me wrong, as I love the later incarnation of Fleetwood Mac, but the original band was, and still is, one of the best blues rock bands this country has ever produced. Some of their guitar work was exceptional, and not just Peter Green: Danny Kirwan contributed a huge amount to their sound, and was clearly enthusiastic about his playing.

I’m leaving you today with a brand new video. In Tuesday Tunes 44: Cold I featured a German band that I really like. They are Faun, who describe their style as pagan folk music, and they released a new song nine days ago, which already has over 320k views on YouTube. It’s not hard to see why – this is, simply, stunning:

The previous time I featured them they were singing in German, but they have occasionally used English lyrics on their albums and this one follows that path. Their music is great, and the video is amazing: not least for what they have (so far) got away with on YouTube! The band posted a ‘making of’ video on Facebook yesterday, which is quite revealing, in more senses than one. It isn’t yet on YouTube but I’m hoping this link will work for anyone who would like to know what goes into a video like this – it looks like hard work! (You might need to click the symbol at the bottom right to get sound). I closed with this one as the first three verses of the song sum up what I think is the essence of Halloween – the Eve of All Hallows Day, on which we celebrate the departed:

“Spirits haunt these magic hours, Dwelling in the sylvan bowers; In the trees is a ghostly breeze.

Light a candle for the dead, With sprigs of fir do warm their bed; And in songs bless the ancient ones. 

Halloween – in moonlight we gather; Halloween – to join with the unseen; Halloween – calling the spirits who come forth on Halloween”

That seems a very appropriate note on which to leave you. Enjoy your day, however you celebrate it. Happy Halloween! 🧙‍♀️