With Halloween three days away, I had to choose something to get me in the mood this week.
Of course, obvious choices like "The Monster Mash" or "Thriller" came to mind pretty quickly. But I dismissed those out of hand because they are ... well ... obvious.
Thinking a little deeper, a slightly less obvious choice like "I Put a Spell on You" came to mind. But that still seemed a little on the nose .
For me, the best songs I know to get me in that spooky (apologies to Miss Springfield) Halloween mood have less to do with lyrics about monsters and a lot more to do with a mood.
And so I give you "House of the Rising Sun."
Isn't Eric Burdon the perfect singer for this? That booming baritone gives the song quite an edge.
But even more important here is Alan Price and his Vox Continental organ. What an amazing sound.
It all sets the mood for a rather cryptic cautionary tale. What's it cautioning against? I can't quite tell, but it is New Orleans, so I'd imagine it's drinking, gambling and loose women. I love when rock 'n' roll bands warn us against the rock 'n' roll lifestyle.
It's less about the story, though, than it is the feeling. Burdon's moans, Price's wailing organ, they give me chills every time. I love listening to this song precisely because it makes me feel uncomfortable.
And that's what Halloween is all about, at least it is for me. We love the holiday precisely because it puts us on edge. Why do we keep doing things like going to haunted houses or watching John Carpenter movies? This holiday is about feeling freaked out and a little bit cold -- a contrast to the warm, together holidays of the coming months.
If you're with me on this, then make time this weekend to sit down and watch your favorite scary movie. If it's more about music for you, then may I suggest a couple of other classic '60s songs about painting doors and talking with an old friend.