“From ghoulies and ghosties, long leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, good Lord deliver us.” So goes a prayer that I encountered while touring colonial Virginia many years ago.
Fast-forward to the late 1950s and early '60s, and it might read “From Blobs and mashing monsters, Purple People Eaters and haunted houses . . .” Well, you get my drift.
These songs, and others like them, inundated the airwaves, and from what I can tell, we loved them. Maybe it was just a much more innocent era.
I assume what we liked was their silliness. And of course, we could dance to them. Always the final test of a hit record.
I have two CDs of this music, which I play only in October. My grandsons think it is hilarious that they were teenagers' hits. The only one they know first-hand is “Ghostbusters”, but of course that came much later, in their parents' generation.
When I look at the artists on these albums, they compete with the song titles—Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Bobby “Boris” Pickett, Jumpin' Gene Simmons, Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs . . .
Probably my favorites are “Monster Mash” and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The first was a Billboard #1 hit in October of 1962. Always included at our teen dances. I guess we all wanted to be at that party. After all, who could resist spending the evening with Wolfman, Dracula, and Igor?
The second song came much later, and again, wasn't “my generation.” I haven't found a lot on it, except it evidently goes with a 1978 movie of the same name. I can't quite envision spending almost and hour and a half watching tomatoes “beat you, bash you, squish you, mash you,” but I guess enough people could, because it spawned a “Return . . .” movie in 1988.
Of course, you can also find “serious” seasonal music. I have “Spooky Symphonies” on my Pandora station. They're not all symphonies, of course. They include a lot of movie themes, like “Jaws”, but they present a pleasant mix of ominous tones.
Then I have my set of Macabre Masterpieces, which my daughter gave me for Christmas (well, we don't give Halloween gifts, do we? Unless you count the candy . . .).
This set includes 2 ½ hours of old and new favorites. Grieg's “Hall of the Mountain King”; “The Sorcerer's Apprentice and ” “Night on Bald Mountain,” both made famous by Disney's original Fantasia. Mickey was funny, but that mountain was pretty scary.
Most of the titles reflect that: “Isle of the Dead,” "Danse Macabre,” "Mephisto Waltz.” And who was he? You may know him better as Mephistopheles, a Germanic demon. Sort of like dancing with the devil.
Maybe it's fitting that Halloween has its own genre of music. After all, it is the most celebrated—and spent-on—holiday next to Christmas. My son-in-law says trick or treat has even spread to Germany.
I have several books of ghost stories—everything from Irish to Appalachian to Victorian. My CDs provide a suitable background for my macabre reading.
So, as Halloween approaches, I am enjoying this mood—or moody—music.
But I feel obligated to warn you: If you see a little ghoulie dressed as a tomato skipping up your front walk on Halloween, I'd advise you to run. Very fast. They've already eaten Sacramento, and your block may be next!