Derik Wayne here. I just recently began thinking about songs that “fit” the Halloween Holiday. Here is my top ten list of country songs that could be a little spooky. This list is just for fun.
10. “Phantom 309” – Red Sovine
The song tells of a hitchhiker (the singer, in first person) trying to return home from the West Coast. On the third day of his trip, while at a crossroads in a driving rain, the hitchhiker is picked up by “Big Joe” driving his tractor-trailer named “Phantom 309.” After driving through the night, Big Joe drops the hitchhiker off at a truck stop, gives him a dime for a cup of coffee, then disappears out of sight. Once inside, the hitchhiker tells of Big Joe’s generosity and the waiter tells him he had been the beneficiary of a “ghost driver.” Ten years earlier, at the same intersection where he was picked up, Big Joe had swerved to avoid hitting a school bus full of children because he could not stop due to his truck’s momentum. But in doing so, he had lost control of his truck and crashed; he had died in the wreck.
9. “Highwayman” – Highwaymen
In The Highwaymen version of the song, each of the four verses was sung by a different performer: first Nelson as the highwayman, then Kristofferson as the sailor, then Jennings as the dam builder, and finally Cash as the starship captain. The song is about reincarnation.
8. “Marie Laveau” – Bobby Bare
The song is about a fictitious witch who lived in a Louisiana bayou swamp, having the same name as the famous New Orleans voodoo priestess who is approached by a scoundrel, “Handsome Jack”. Jack asks Marie to conjure up $1,000,000; in exchange, Jack will then marry Marie. Marie conjures up the money, but Jack backs out on his end of the deal, resulting in Marie casting a spell on Jack in revenge.
7. “Sittin’ Up With The Dead” – Ray Stevens
The song tells a story of how it used to be customary to lay your deceased kin at home in the casket. But when the nighttime comes you’d have to sit up with the dead.
6. “Midnight In Montgomery” – Alan Jackson
This song was written about Hank Williams, who was from Montgomery, Alabama. The singer, while heading to Mobile for a New Year’s Eve show, makes a visit to a Montgomery grave (Williams died on New Year’s Day 1953, and is buried in Montgomery), and encounters the ghost of Williams who thanks him for paying tribute before disappearing.
5. “Ghost Riders In The Sky” – Johnny Cash
The song tells a folk tale of a cowboy who has a vision of red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle thundering across the sky, being chased by the spirits of damned cowboys. One warns him that if he does not change his ways, he will be doomed to join them, forever “trying to catch the Devil’s herd across these endless skies”.
4. “The Haunted House” – Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline shared a close relationship when Lynn first got her start in country music. Lynn says that Cline was her role model, and that she often stepped in to help her. So when Cline died in a plane crash in 1963, Lynn was devastated by the news. Lynn says that she went over to Cline’s house right after her death so that she could check in on her husband, Charlie. While Lynn’s husband talked to Charlie, Lynn sat down on the stairs in Cline’s recreation room, and she found herself inspired to write a song. The song’s lyrics are absolutely heartbreaking, as the narrator mourns over the loss of someone they deeply cared about.
3. “The Ride” – David Allen Coe
The ballad tells the story of a hitchhiker’s encounter with the ghost of Hank Williams, Sr in a ride from Alabama to Tennessee.
2. “Monster’s Holiday” – Buck Owens
‘(It’s A) Monster’s Holiday’ has it all. Not only is it flat out plain fun to crank up, it names virtually every monster in the book! You can literally see Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney. Heck, it’s so much fun, you can see Herman Munster, Lilly, Grandpa and Eddie, too!
Honorable Mention: “Gravedigger” – Willie Nelson
Dave Matthews, song’s writer, says, “It’s kind of these different stories that are brought together by walking through a graveyard with their names and the dates of their births and their deaths, and the stories that came out of their lives. It’s sort of just telling those stories and some others as you wander through a graveyard and what you might think if you could walk into the graves and find out what people went through to get there.”
Honorable Mention: “Beaches Of Cheyenne” – Garth Brooks
The lyrics describe a woman who “just went crazy” after her husband decides to participate in a rodeo against her wishes and is killed in the bull riding event. The grieving woman, distraught that her last words to her husband were “I don’t give a damn if you never come back from Cheyenne”, ran out into the ocean. Although her body was never found, the narrator explains that “If you go down by the water / You’ll see her footprints in the sand / ‘Cause every night she walks the beaches of Cheyenne.”
1. “Legend Of Wooley Swamp” – Charlie Daniels Band
The song tells the story of a man who, after hearing a fable about a place called Wooley Swamp, stubbornly decided to confirm the story on his own, only to come away with the knowledge that “there’s some things in this world you just can’t explain.”
How’d I do? Did I forget any? Let me know!