BY TIFFANY SCIACCA
Halloween is approaching fast and although I always have a list or two of scary movies I plan to watch, I rarely think about music. Of course, there is not as big a catalog for Halloween as for Christmas but you do have the standbys like Bobby Pickett’s, Monster Mash or Ministry’s, Every Day is Halloween, though I am more partial to Siouxsie and The Banshees, Peek-A-Boo myself. I decided to explore a bit and found five songs to add to your Halloween playlist.
First, we have a band recommended to me through my YouTube recommendations. Formed in 1982, Saâda Bonaire was intended as a disco/world music band fronted by Stefanie Lange and Claudia Hossfeld. They were destined to have at least one hit single, “You Could Be More As You Are” but their A&R man grossly went over budget for Tina Turner’s, Private Dancer as well Saâda Bonaire’s debut album and EMI refused to release the single, pushing the group into obscurity. My introduction to them was, Shut the Door (1983) a nice jazz fusion song you would think was almost too bouncy to tie in with Halloween but then when the vocals start it quickly sounds like a song you’d find on the soundtrack of Vamp or The Hunger .
The second tune is familiar to most of us I think. Spooky (1967) was originally an instrumental song by Mike Sharpe and only later were lyrics added. More than 30 artists from Lydia Lunch to Andy Williams have covered it and I’m going to share the two that were unfamiliar to me.
The first version is by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. It definitely has that signature sound with the Vandellas adding the appropriate backdrop making it a perfectly dark and sultry song with Martha taking lyrical liberties like, “Love is kind of crazy with a spooky old lady like me.”
The second cover of Spooky is by the interesting trio of Joan Osborne, Isaac Hayes, and Dave Sanborn. This video was produced at Studio 5, NYC in 1997 for David Sanborn & Friends, The Super Session. There is a little playful banter at the beginning, but then it sticks close to the best known version by the Classics IV with lyrics alluding to a “spooky little girl.”
Another oldie but goodie, I Put a Spell On You, was supposed to be the perfect love song. “What do you mean Tiffany?” You ask, “It is a perfect love song!” Well the versions we hear now, like Nina Simone’s are more than convincing, but the original version which was written by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins was recorded after a large meal consisting of too much alcohol and the final project was not the pristine song familiar to the 1950s and was banned for some time. Here is a later version but you will still get the picture, definitely has that Halloween vibe. You are welcome!
The last on the list is Eartha Kitt’s, I Want to Be Evil released in 1953 on the album, That Bad Eartha, and with lines like, “… whatever I've got, I'm eager to lose” and “The the closest I've been to a bar is at ballet class.” I Want to Be Evil” is just as fun as Monster Mash but with sharper lyrics. I hope you enjoy these 5 spooky songs as much as I did and if you have any to add, please let me know!
Tiffany Sciacca (senior staff) is a writer who has recently moved to Sicily from the Midwest. Tiffany’s work has appeared in the Silver Birch Press, SOFTBLOW, and DNA Magazine UK. When she is not learning a new language or trying to blend in, she is reading old poetry anthologies, binging Nordic Noir or of course, writing.