Sunday, October 22, 2006

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #135: Songs for a Spooky Evening

Weekend Assignment: We're making a Halloween Music Mix! Suggest a song. The song can be scary, spooky or silly, but it should fit into Halloween somehow. All genres are acceptable; indeed, I'd be very interested to know of a country or samba song that would work.

Extra Credit: Are you spooked easily?

Dear John,

Almost a dirge, the Pearls Before Swine song There Was A Man has always struck me as a sad, sour song that fits well with Halloween, despite the fact that it speaks of the “suit of red” worn by the man in question. Just the sound of it raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

But the piece of music that is indelibly linked to Halloween in my mind is Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, a “tone poem” -- mostly because a music appreciation teacher took the time to introduce to me in class some fifty years ago. It's had a varied history, as the Wikipedia article points out. It actually is a tonal depiction of the celebration of the Russian witches sabbath on St. John's Night (June 23-24).

But, we can blame Uncle Walt for the mental connection – he included a version in his “Fantasia” in the 1930's and it's been stuck in the Yank's psyche ever since... and in mine since the late 1950's.

As to whether I spook easy, the answer is no. But once spooked, I take a while to come down from the adrenaline rush.


"There Was A Man"
By Tom Rapp

There was a man came to our town
He wore a suit of red
He memorized with secret eyes
That he hid away in his head

    He had a scar upon his head
    Where there used to be a crown
    But he sold his robes at the five and ten
    And lived on the edge of town

That fall he showed us a magic leaf
That he could change to snow
He bought it partly with his grief
And partly with his soul

    He scattered seeds in the alley way
    He never seemed to rest
    And when you went to ask him why
    All he ever said was yes

He made a swan from waving grass
Beside a crystal shore
And a sunrise spun from broken glass
And many things wondrous more

    But then his hands began to burn
    When he heard the news from the war
    When we cannot find each other he said
    Then we can't run away any more

Next day with tears along his face
He passed us on the hill
No one thought to ask him to stay
And he knows that we never will

There was a man came to our town
He wore a suit of red
He memorized with secret eyes
That he hid away in his head.

No comments: