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Heavy Halloween

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Fifteen favorites to help you bang your head while frightening trick-or-treaters:


“Bad Moon Rising”, Creedence Clearwater Revival—Stephen King used it for foreshadowing in The Shining, then ended “Silver Bullet” with it. Bands from Social Distortion and Rancid to Type O Negative and Rasputina have covered it. It’s not terribly scary, of course. But despite its seemingly chipper exterior, it’s sense of foreboding runs deep. (From Green River, 1969)


“Bark at the Moon”, Ozzy Osbourne—There’s at least a disc’s worth of Black Sabbath songs you could include, and more than a few other Ozzy solo cuts. Yet everything about this charging rocker screams Halloween, from its silence-shattering opening to its grave-digging lyrics to its howling finish. (From Bark at the Moon, 1983)


“Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”, Santana—True, as with “Evil Ways”, this one seems to be on the radio every half-hour. But how can it be denied? (From Abraxas, 1970)


“Helter Skelter”, The Beatles—“I’ve got blisters on me fingers!” The opening guitar salvo still sends chills, McCartney has never seemed so possessed, and the droning stomp toward the fadeout is still so hypnotizing, it’s not hard to see why Charles Manson thought he heard secret messages. For further hair-raising chills, add in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ version. (From The Beatles, 1968)


“Hells Bells”, AC/DC—“Highway to Hell” fits, too, but the tolling title sound of this heavy-metal staple will, as the song says, “give you black sensations up and down your spine.” Were it not for the Stones selection below, this would be Satan’s anthem. (From Back in Black, 1980)


“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”, U2—OK, so it’s not really very scary sounding, more hyper-dramatic. Still, it’s mood that matters, and Bono has rarely sounded so over-the-top—and the near-operatic music matches. (From The Best of 1990-2000, 2002)


“Lucifer Sam”, Pink Floyd—“That cat’s something I can’t explain.” A bit of Syd Barrett’s surrealism always goes down unsettlingly this time of year, and this ode to the familiar that follows witch Jennifer Gentle around is one of the late drug-damaged madman’s finest. The ghoulish, descending-into-darkness riff, like Batman on acid, will prick up ears that haven’t heard it for sure. (From The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967)


“Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”, David Bowie—The title kinda says it all. There are plenty of other Bowie selections to fill up your soundtrack, from spooky (“Warszawa”) to rockin’ (“The Jean Genie”) to downright loopy (“TVC15”). But with party tunes, sometimes it’s better to be obvious. (From Scary Monsters, 1980)


“Frankenstein”, The Edgar Winter Group—Duh-duh dunn-dunn da-dunn-dunn-dahhh. Need we say more? (From They Only Come Out at Night, 1972)


“Strange Brew”, Cream—“Kill what’s inside of you.” Another haunted rocker centered on another witchy woman. Play it before or after the Eagles track below. (From Disraeli Gears, 1967)


“Sympathy for the Devil”, The Rolling Stones—Please allow him to introduce himself. Frankly, you could put together an entire box set of songs devoted to Beelzebub. Suggestions: Van Halen’s “Runnin’ with the Devil”, INXS’ “Devil Inside”, the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”, the B-52’s “Devil in My Car” and Mitch Ryder’s “Devil in a Blue Dress”. We’d also toss in Robert Johnson’s “Hellhounds on My Trail” as a corollary, but you can’t really dance to it. For thematic thrust plus dark delight, however, nothing beats the Stones’ woo-hoo-ing classic. (From Beggars Banquet, 1968)


“Burn the Witch”, Queens of the Stone Age—Josh Homme & Co.‘s “Hangin’ Tree” and “Into the Hollow” are also worth considering, but we’ll take this fiery stomper about mob rule. “The first to speak is the first to lie/The children cross their hearts and hope to die.” Dread-filled ... yet sexy! (From Lullabies to Paralyze, 2005)


“Witch Hunt”, Rush—Part of the Canadian trio’s “Fear Trilogy”, this menacing third piece actually came first, followed by second part “The Weapon” (on 1982’s Signals) and first installment “The Enemy Within” (on 1984’s Grace Under Pressure). In 2002, Rush added a fourth part, “Freeze”, but stick to the darker original. Eerie fact: the mob noise in the opening moments was recorded the night John Lennon was killed. (From Moving Pictures, 1979)


“Witchy Woman”, Eagles—“See how high she flies,” and then take note of her other freakish characteristics: “Sparks fly from her fingertips,” “she got the moon in her eye,” “she can rock you in the nighttime till your skin turns red.” Well, OK, that last one doesn’t sound so bad. Still ... watch out. (From Eagles, 1972)


“Zombie”, The Cranberries—It’s actually about the killing of two boys in an IRA bombing in Northwest England. But when Dolores O’Riordan cries out “zombie! zombie! zombie-yuh-ah-yuh-ah!” for the umpteenth time, your party guests probably won’t be thinking about that. (From “No Need to Argue,” 1994)


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