When I was a kid, Halloween was my favorite holiday. It still is. This is the night for good spooky fun. I always thought you should dress up as something scary. But my friends didn’t necessarily agree. So, one year, I was a witch and my best friend was a UNICEF box. That was scary in its own way, but was not what I meant.
Danny Elfman: This Is Halloween
What then are the key elements for a great Halloween? Danny Elfman sets the mood with a catalog of scary costume ideas. This song opens The Nightmare Before Christmas, and does a great job of setting the mood. Here, it does so again.
Shivaree: Goodnight Moon
You need a properly creepy night. There should be a full moon casting strange shadows. A chill wind makes odd noises. Shivaree describes the night perfectly. The title refers back to the classic children’s book, and the song gives it a great spooky twist.
Dr John: Witchy Red
There should be scary stories. Dr John tells a dandy here. I imagine that, in Louisiana at this time of year, they talk in hushed tones of Marie LeVeau. Dr John’s character meets a modern-day disciple.
Rose and the Arrangement: The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnatti
And of course, there needs to be a party. Let’s have great live music and dancing.
What, you may ask, does that have to do with this song? Back when my wife and I were dating, xxxx-xxx years ago, we attended a Halloween contradance. We chose our costumes carefully, making sure we had a full range of motion. The band was assembled once a year for this occasion, out of the members of several local contradance bands. So there was a piano, fiddles, guitar, banjo, a flute or two, I think an accordion... It was a giant folk dance orchestra. We knew some of the musicians from other dances we had attended, but we had never heard any of them sing. So imagine our surprise when a traditional folk-dance piece suddenly medleyed into The Cockroach That Ate Cincinnatti. There was only one possible response: we kept dancing. So this song has a special place in my heart, and must be a part of any Halloween party I have anything to do with.
If you would like to know more about contradances, (like, what are they?), you can see what I wrote about them here.
Warren Zevon: Werewolves of London
Finally, you knew this one had to be in there somewhere. There may be hundreds of blogs posting this this week, but that is one way to define a classic.