Halloween is just around the corner, and whether you’re just handing out candy at home or you’re headed to a spooky party of your own, it’s nice to have a soundtrack to the evening.
Country music has a long tradition of creepy tunes, so the genre lends itself easily to All Hallow’s Eve. Ghosts, ghouls and redneck urban legends abound.
If the supernatural isn’t your thing and you prefer a more human scare, there’s myriad songs about lovers killing cheaters, men killing children and songs with thinly veiled threats of murder. If you thought some rap music was bad, you clearly haven’t heard “Delia’s Gone.”
On that note, I’ve put together a playlist of 13 creepy country music songs, just in time for Halloween. The following list goes in order from harmless to straight-up sinister. Read the descriptions, and then check out the playlist at the bottom.
1. Midnight in Montgomery — Alan Jackson
It’s become country tradition to write about the ghost of Hank Williams. Here, Jackson sings about feeling the cold presence of the father of modern country while on a stop in Montgomery, Ala., where Williams was buried after his death. Another song that isn’t as creepy, due to the instrumentation, is David Allan Coe’s “The Ride,” about a hitchhiker who gets picked up by Williams’ ghost while traveling through Montgomery.
2. Phantom 309 — Red Sovine
Another ghost story, this time about a man who has a run-in with the selfless ghost of a truck driver out on the West Coast. When he gets out of the car and stops for coffee, the ghost drives off, and the man relates his story to the townspeople, who have seen the ghost before.
3. “(It’s A) Monster’s Holiday” — Buck Owens
The country version of “Monster Mash,” from one of the genre’s best humorists. Maybe the only country song to mention Frankenstein and the Wolf Man.
4. “Better Dig Two” — The Band Perry
Sticking with their early-career motif of songs about death, this song finds The Band Perry frontwoman Kimberly Perry promising her lover that the grave digger “better dig two” if said lover ever leaves her. It’s catchy, but it’s creepy.
5. “You Are My Sunshine” — Morgane Stapleton with Chris Stapleton
Most people only know the first verse to this rhyme. The full song gets morbid, and Morgane’s vocals highlight the gravity in each line. It’s also amazing to hear live, too.
6. “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” — Charlie Daniels Band
Everyone knows “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” but this guitar-driven fright fest about a hillbilly Ebeneezer Scrooge who kills three “white trash” kids who tried to steal his money, is the CDB’s scariest song.
7. “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” — Johnny Cash
Cash could have had a lot more entries on this list. “Delia’s Gone,” “25 Minutes to Go,” “When the Man Comes Around” and “Ain’t No Grave” are plenty haunting in their own right. But “Riders” is the most outlandish, complete with cows from Hell.
8. “Dig, Gravedigger, Dig” — Corb Lund
Canada’s favorite Hurtin’ Albertan examines the spooky side of the gravedigger life. Watch out for the full moon.
9. “Marie Laveau” — Bobby Bare
Another urban legend a la “Wooley Swamp,” this voodoo-themed Louisiana romp was co-written by Shel Silverstein.
10. “Far From Any Road” — The Handsome Family
This one is most famous for being the theme song for the first (and best) season of “True Detective.” It’s easy to see why HBO picked this for the show’s Southern Gothic-by-way-of-Lovecraft mood: “When the last light warms the rocks and the rattlesnakes unfold/Mountain cats will come to drag away your bones/And rise with me forever across the silent sand/And the stars will be your eyes and the wind will be my hands” just gives you the creeps, right?
11. “Knoxville Girl” — The Louvin Brothers
Gather ’round, everyone, and listen to this playful ditty about killing your girlfriend and throwing her into the Tennessee River. Not appealing? Well, with how happy this song sounds, it almost disguises the fact that it’s about a sinister murder.
12. “Psycho” — Eddie Noack
In the same vein as “Knoxville Girl,” except this one’s got mass murder, plus a puppy death. It would win the award for most sinister, if it weren’t for…
13. “Dueling Banjos”
Anyone who’s seen “Deliverance” knows why this is the epitome of country fright.
Check out the playlist below, and let me know if I missed anything in the comments.
Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’s Country Music Roundup.
Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.