Turn up the mu­sic, turn up the chill

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - INSIDE - Con­tact Shawn Ryan at mshawn­ryan@gmail.com.

It’s early in the month, but with Hal­loween head­ing our way, it may be time to start some plan­ning. Sure, you need to get your mini Snick­ers and Milk Duds and Twiz­zlers in hand. And, if you’re one of those peo­ple, set up the fake grave­stones and spi­der­webs in your yards.

If you’re an adult, though, and aren’t plan­ning to put on a cos­tume and trick-or­treat, there are other ways to cel­e­brate Hal­loween.

Lots of folks sit down in the days be­fore Hal­loween to binge on hor­ror movies, a fine, time-hon­ored tra­di­tion. It’s a safe bet, how­ever, that not as many pick out scary, un­set­tling mu­sic to wel­come Hal­loween. And we’re not talk­ing about “Mon­ster Mash” or the theme to “The Ad­dams Fam­ily.” These are songs recorded by well­known artists and bands that might give you a chill up your spine or goose­bumps on your fore­arms.

The Doors’ “Rid­ers on the Storm” is an ob­vi­ous one. Its dark melody and bleak arrangement are creepy in and of them­selves. But add the lyric: “There’s a killer on the road / His brain is squirm­ing like a toad,” and the trep­i­da­tion au­to­mat­i­cally in­creases.

“En­ter Sand­man” by Me­tal­lica is a re­li­able fright­ener, es­pe­cially when it tells chil­dren to be quiet and ig­nore the noises be­cause: “It’s just the beasts un­der your bed / In your closet, in your head.” Par­ents’ worst night­mares come true in Alice Cooper’s “Dead Ba­bies,” where lit­tle Betty OD’s on as­pirin she took Shawn Ryan off a shelf. But Alice of­fers sage wis­dom when he ex­plains that: “Dead ba­bies can’t take things off the shelf.” So true.

Not many may re­mem­ber “D.O.A.” by Blood­rock, a lit­tle slice of hor­ror from 1971 about a pilot and his girl­friend who crash in a plane. He re­mem­bers ev­ery­thing about the ride to the hos­pi­tal. Un­for­tu­nately, he’s pro­nounced “dead on ar­rival” at the hos­pi­tal, even though he still knows “the sheets are red and moist where I’m lyin’.”

You know there had to be a song by Black Sab­bath in this list, and what bet­ter than the ti­tle track of their self-ti­tled de­but in 1970. It’s got Satan and a “big black shape with eyes of fire” and a child scream­ing for its mother. Plus the open­ing gui­tar chord by Tony Iommi sounds like he’s slam­ming the gui­tar into a huge iron bell.

Lis­ten to Bil­lie Hol­i­day’s “Strange Fruit” and tell me the icy pi­ano and her mes­mer­iz­ing vo­cals don’t paint a haunt­ing pic­ture. The song is even more alarm­ing be­cause the “strange fruit” in South­ern trees are black men who’ve been lynched.

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