Thursday, October 21, 2004

Halloween S'Carols

How To Make The Ultimate Halloween Mix, Part I

Every year I make a Christmas music CD, and last year I made the first of what I hoped to be an annual Halloween S'Carols mix. Alas, while there's an insane amount of Christmas tunes to choose from, good Halloween songs are hard to find. And by good, I mean not the overplayed "Monster Mash" and "Werewolves of London" crap, or songs with Halloween titles without substance, like the Edgar Winters Groups "Frankenstein" or Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious". By good, I mean stuff with a scary feel, or about Halloween or the supernatural in some substantial way.

So, for your trick-or-treating pleasure, I offer you some advice on how to put together a creepy, moody, and cool as pumpkin guts mix for Halloween.

1. As with any themed mix, listen to as many songs that fit your theme as possible. Make lists of songs you already know, and start hitting the internet for other lists. Search terms like "halloween music mix" or "scary music" work well. I found an overly exhaustive list at the Nightmare City page that archives all the tracks they've played on their annual Halloween radio show for the past 25 years, for starters. Below I also offer a dozen ideas.

2. Now its time to start finding the songs. I use those illicit music sharing services like Kazaa... actually, less because its free than most of the songs I want aren't available on iTunes, MusicMatch, or any other online service. The other advantage to Kazaa (or Morpheus, or Limewire), is that you can also enter in vague search terms such as "scary" or "haunted" or "Halloween", and then download the songs that sound interesting. You can also search for the songs on eBay, or at your local music store (in L.A. Amoeba is an awesome local source). Never worry about downloading too many options... just go as far as your time and money will take you.

3. Now, listen to your collection, over and over. If a song becomes annoying, discard it immediately - you want a mix that will last through multiple listenings, and one bad song can kill it no matter how cute or clever it is. If you're able, listen to the songs on "shuffle" play, take note of any songs that play well against one another. Eventually, you'll need to whittle this down to a 60 minute mix, or some reasonably lengthed CD, so be prepared to discard a lot of stuff based on the fact that it just doesn't blend in right.

Part two in a couple days... for now I'll leave you with tunes that appeared on last year's Halloween mix...

Trick Or Treat, Nekromantix... from the awesome Rob Zombie produced compilation "Halloween Hootenanny".
Witch Doctor, David Seville... an underplayed classic that, for better or worse, encouraged Seville's creation of the Chipmunks.
Halloween Spooks , Lambert Hendricks And Ross... almost annoying, but surprsingly catchy.
The Headless Horseman, Bing Crosby... from the hard to find big band/jazz CD "Haunted House".
Til The Following Night Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages... the king of Halloween music.
Haunted House, Gene Simmons... an oft covered tune, this one is best, but no, this isn't the guy from Kiss.
Halloween Is, Tom T Hall... even a country singer can turn out a good s'carol.
Haunted House Blues, Bessie Smith... very, very hard to find, but the bad quality of the scratched record dub I finally found made it all the spookier...
Boris The Spider, The Who... the coolest song ever from Daltrey and company.
Jack The Ripper Screamin' Lord Sutch... I usually avoid using the same artist twice on the same mix, but Sutch had too much good stuff to resist.
Grim Grinning Ghosts Barenaked Ladies... yeah, my most unfavorite group of Canadians actually do an awesome cover of this song from the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland.
Gingerbread Coffin, Rasputina... perhaps my favorite unexpected find for this mix, these chick rockers/violinists sing a song that would give Wednesday Addams the chills.
The Halloween Dance, Reverend Horton Heat... another track from "Halloween Hootenanny".
Graveyard Rock, Tarantula Goul... a Monster Mash-like rarity that can be found on the CD "Horror Hop".

...since being bitten by a wolf-like-animal, new Blogger and video store clerk Kirk has been experiencing some changes... vintage Tony Pierce: Halloween web-cam girl photo essay... an on a seperate note, Kenna likes "How To Vote"...