I once watched a programme about the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Actually, it was either a programme about Thriller or American Werewolf in London, though it doesn’t matter. Apparently, immediately after seeing American Werewolf In London, Michael Jackson picked up his phone and called his management with the request that he wanted become a monster in his next video, thus Thriller was born. He even used the same special effects guys and everything. Jackson had no obession with the occult however, the disclaimer at the start of the video stresses “Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”
Of course he didn’t believe any of it, but this kind of imagery has always had an incredible power in art; zombies, vampires, werewolves and demons are merely a mirror up to reflect the darker sides of human nature, a satire on consumerism (Dawn of the Dead) or a comment on sexuality (Dracula). Monsters are only ever the worst that humanity has to offer, and that makes for some powerful songwriting. Here are 7 blinders and a plug, I’ve split them up into handy sections for your viewing/listening pleasure…
If You Shoot The Head You Kill The Ghoul by Jeffrey Lewis
This is THE zombie song, not only is it catchy but it also includes lyrics like these “When the groundskeeper came to check out the place / They knocked him down and they ate his face”
Zombie Holocaust by Eyes & No Eyes
This guy used to play as Tristram, and I remember seeing him play this song years ago. It feels like he’s trying to battle a huge army of nightmarish monsters with a soft melody, it’s awesome.
Little Ghost by The White Stripes
I don’t listen to The White Stripes much anymore, but I really loved this song and thought of it as soon as I started doing this playlist. It’s from Get Behind Me Satan, and have vivid memories of listening to it with a guy I used to be in a band with, but I can’t remember his name.
Hazards of Love 3 (Revenge!) by The Decemberists
The Hazards of Love was an epic album by The Decemberists, it had a narrative running through the entire thing, but all you need to know for this song is that three children who had been murdered by their father are back from the grave for revenge…
Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon
This is a great performance by the great Warren Zevon on Later With Jools Holland, I especially like the “little old lady got mutilated late last night” bit.
Bright Paper Werewolves by Guided By Voices
It’s a very short one, but a very good one from the best band of all time – Guided By Voices. This is one of over 1,500 songs songwriter Robert Pollard has to his name!
Damn These Vampires – Mountain Goats
“Here’s John Darnielle singing a song I had on repeat for about a week when it was released. It’s from the album All Eternals Deck… Which is ace.”
The Frighteners by Joe Innes & The Cavalcade
Tying it all right back round to the beginning is this, the title track from my debut album. It’s got vampires and all sorts, so enjoy! We’re launching the album this Saturday the 28th April at none other than The Slaughtered Lamb, the pub where An American Werewolf In London begins, and you’re very welcome to come join us! You can find details here.