Beginning with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, Halloween has continued through the ages to be a time of celebration and superstition. It is a night to not only face your demons but to become one yourself. In the dark, transformations occur. Spirits walk the earth among us as we let our personal devils out to play. For one night a year, we are allowed to roam and wander as we would like others to see us. Beauty and grotesque collide, devils dance with angels as the smell of sulfur rises from the ancient bonfires used to ward off and welcome the children of night. We celebrate the season with music as Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale introduce the “Vampire Girl”, Jimbo Mathus says hello to “Haunted John” and Bruce Springsteen spots “The Ghost of Tom Joad” on a lonely desert highway. Joe Louis Walker warns that “As the Sun Goes Down” to watch for the “Evil” that Shovels and Rope see wrapping around the earth. Enter if you dare into 25 Songs that tell of their own experiences when the darkness that covers the earth seeps into your soul. Follow Lucinda Williams as she shows that “Something Wicked This Way Comes” in the Top 25 Roots Songs for Halloween for 2014.
01 “Something Wicked This Way Comes” - Lucinda Williams (from the album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone) - Even with the Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone title of her recent album, darker surprises wait around every corner on the recent Lucinda Williams release. “Something Wicked This Way Comes unleashes ‘fire and brimstone’ to light the way of a fallen angel.
02 Howl - JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound (from the album Howl) - The crackle of electric guitar slashes pick the tension from the lone notes in the opening to the song. JC Brooks walks the sharp edged beat with a pure soul that knows you need to “Howl” for love.
03 Haunted John - Jimbo Mathus (from the EP Blue Light) - Jimbo Mathus walks the night streets of New Orleans and spots “Haunted John” riding up and down the street cars on Chartres all night long. Drums pound as psychedelic swirling guitars and saxophone saw away at the beat.
04 “Devil In Disguise” - JJ Cale (from the album Anyway the Wind Blows – The Anthology) - JJ Cale uses his own magic from the Tulsa sound he developed. His train chugging groove keeps him ahead of demons and dares. Whether it is a young girl or the unraveling life of a rock’n’roll band, JJ tries to stay one step ahead of trouble.
05 “Vampire Girl” - Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale (from the album Buddy and Jim) - Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale shutter and shimmy like spirits called to life by the Cajun fiddle calling out on “Vampire Girl”. Like moths to the flame, Buddy and Jim know the beat of trouble when they hear it but they were hooked a long time ago and now can’t break free.
06 “Angel Dance” - Robert Plant and the Band of Joy (from the album Band of Joy) - Buddy Miller stays around to pull guitar chords that give air to wings reaching for the sky as Robert Pant calls time for “Angel Dance”. Spirits frolic on All Hollows Eve and Dios de la Muerte and heaven is not too far away to come down to earth for a little swamp boogie.
07 “Holy Unholy” - The Hello Strangers (from the album The Hello Strangers) - The Hello Strangers call out to the ghoulies and gremlins of the season asking “Holy Unholy” to help them understand the misery and deception. The band raises the white flag of surrender as the wind howls around the ground where they are slowly sinking into Hades.
08 “Til He's Dead or Rises” - Drive-By Truckers (from the album English Oceans) - Drive-By truckers carve a Southern Gothic tale into their Halloween pumpkin. As the band roars as a ride begins that will only see an end ‘’til he’s dead or rises to the occasion’. The determination of the rock’n’roll force of DBT struts like stones running into exile on main street.
09 “Haunted Heart” - Susan Cattaneo (from the album Haunted Heart) - Susan Cattaneo is caught in the dreamscape of a “Haunted Heart”. The bubble of organ notes, the sway of pedal steel and lounge guitar notes match the sleepy whisper of Susan’s vocals.
10 “The Ghost of Tom Joad” - Bruce Springsteen (from the album The Ghost of Tom Joad) - Bruce Springsteen stands at the border to welcome the surge of souls on the night time highway to the New World Order. The one-way ticket promises a free stay on a bed of rock with walls of cardboard. Freedom can be more scary than demons.
11 “Evil” - Shovels and Rope (from the album Swimmin’ Time) - From the first note until the last there is no safe place to stand as Shovels and Rope deliver “Evil”. The pound of the drums, guitar and church basement piano demand allegiance and your footsteps will fall in line as the world continues to ‘wait for the other shoe to drop’.
12 “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” - The Ramrods (from the album Axes and Saxes: Guitar Instrumentals) - The hot hooves of a devils herd of cattle pound the ground as a heavenly choir is slowly trampled by the ghost riders. Saxophone wails chase a thousand steers breathing fire smoke from their nostrils and shooting sparks from the thundering stampede.
13 “Out of Control” - Dave Alvin (from the album Ashgrove) - Costumes and masks help us become someone else. Another body to blame and a night to offer excuses to the daylight. Dave Alvin is not a wild man by nature but he knows that there are moments in life that force you a little ‘”Out of Control”.
14 “Ghost” - Angela Perley and the Howlin' Moons (from the album Hey Kid) - The dark of night sees things that are not visible in the light of day. Angela Perley can see the “Ghost” she is chasing much clearer than the flesh and blood creatures calling her name.
15 “As the Sun Goes Down” - Joe Louis Walker (from the album Hornet’s Nest) - The west side of Chicago is calling to Joe Louis Walker. “As the Sun Goes Down” his tears start to flow to draw in the creepies and crawlies are starting to appear.
16 “Medicine Man” - The Band of Heathens (from the album Top Hat Crown and the Clap Master’s Son) - The Band of Heathens walk proudly across the land, shedding their sheepskin to reveal the “Medicine Man” wearing the wolf fur. From slave to king, the guys are here to provide night time relief from a bag of gris gris.
17 “Hellfire Raiser” - Anne McCue (from the album Koala Motel) - Anne McCue is not trying to get rid of her personal “Hellfire Raiser”. She is trying her best to walk in line, using her guitar to pick up the pace.
18 “Scarecrow Man” - David Olney (from the album When the Deal Goes Down) - Wild wolves, lightning strikes and cold winds are the least of David Olney’s worries as he becomes the fool that ventures out with the “Scarecrow Man” to weather the forces of nature to try and reach the farmhouse door.
9 “Devil Woman” - John Cowan (from the album Sixty) - John Cowan re-visits the Marty Robbins hit to spot a “Devil Woman” walking down the beach in his direction. He is trying to get away and safely back home to his shack, and love, by the sea.
20 “Bad Moon Rising” - John Fogerty and Zac Brown Band (from the album Wrote a Song for Everyone) - John Fogerty joins in with the Zac Brown Band to stay out of the evil light of the “Bad Moon Rising”. The shuffle beat, guitar bounce and high flying fiddle make sure that if the demons appear, they will be dancing.
21 “Me And Your Ghost” - Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles (from the album The Stars Are Out) - Sarah Borges is selecting a dress to take her out for the night. Her memories are taking her downtown, hoping that the ‘pretty, pretty faces’ will take her mind off the past enough so that she can no longer her the voices of her ghost.
22 “Devil's Dance Floor” - Flogging Molly (from the album Swagger) - Flogging Molly are swinging and spinning on the “Devil’s Dance Floor” as they spot a partner. As the music starts to stoke the fires of hell, the band take the hand of the girl with ‘legs that ran all the way up to heaven and past Avalon’.
23 “This Man, This Monster” - The Duke Robillard Band (from the album Independently Blue) - The Duke Robillard Band sooth the savage beast hidden inside “This Man. This Monster” with the sweet sounds of Blues music. The dual guitar work of Duke and Monster Mike Welch will get a purr quicker than a growl from the ball of fur curled up in the corner.
24 “Drag Queens In Limousines” - Mary Gauthier (from the album Live at Blue Rock) - The night is dark but the dangers on the street are a lot safer than the high school halls that Mary Gauthier walked in her youth. The “Drag Queens in Limousines” and nuns in blue jeans cast more light than the stars above.
25 “Return of the Grievous Angel” - Lucinda Williams and David Crosby (from the album Return of the Grievous Angel; A Tribute to Gram Parsons) - Lucinda Williams comes back in for a song with David Crosby as they wait on the “Return of the Grievous Angel”. They search the skies and the prairies to find a pair of wandering wings in the Gram Parsons tune only to see the devil reflected in the deep blue sea.