A playlist to listen to by autumnal candlelight.
For whatever reason, this season always makes me want to go back a few decades in terms of my listening habits. This desire to look backwards for my autumnal soundtrack is probably because the production of ‘60s through ‘80s music wasn’t quite as slick as it is now. Of course, there was some progression in production quality in those 30 years: Michael Jackson will sound clearer than The Monkees, but tracks predating 1990 or so generally sound a bit warmer (read: shittier) than a lot of contemporary stuff.
This self-imposed musical regression may also be because autumn is an inherently nostalgic season, full of child-centric holidays like Christmas and Halloween. This may bring up complications of how I’d possibly have nostalgia for tracks that were produced before I was born, but I’m not actually here to pontificate about nostalgia culture, so let’s not think about it too hard.
Knowing my inclination for older tracks this time of year, I put together an autumn playlist mostly following this preference. You can try out some tracks or you can scoff at me. (Either works, really. I’m just here to engage an audience.) This particular playlist is mainly featuring classics, but it purposefully excludes “Thriller,” “The Monster Mash,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” soundtrack or that one “Nightmare on Elm Street”-esque song that Will Smith did. Though I will admit that “A Nightmare on My Street” is a very good song — especially the part when Will calls his friend Jeff, who is then promptly murdered, as signified by a layered-in stock scream. It’s really a shame that DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince broke off collaboration in 1993. God only knows of what Smithian symphonies we’ve since been robbed.
Will Smith aside, I didn’t exclude these tracks because they aren’t fun as hell (because they definitely are), but because I think they always become a little over-saturated this time of year. I tried to include instead some non-obvious tracks (along with some more admittedly mainstream selections like Hall & Oates’ “Maneater”) because what good is a playlist that can’t surprise its listener while still staying on theme?
Playing off the nostalgia culture that I said I was going to drop earlier, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash kicks off the playlist. Is this a blatant reference to one of the more memorable scenes of “Stranger Things”? Absolutely. Do I feel bad about peddling cheap referential content? Only around the edges.
“Should I Stay” is one of two tracks whose content itself isn’t somehow related to Spooky Autumnal Happenings™; the other is “Lovesong” by The Cure. I’ll be honest, “Lovesong” was included simply because of how goth-sounding it is. Even if it’s not about witches running around doing magical hijinks, the track still sounds like it belongs on a Halloween playlist with those slow, melancholy synths and borderline-obsessive lyrics.
Dusty Springfield’s “Spooky” has some really, really smooth vocals and instrumentation and is just generally a great song for slinking around to. Also, it’s apparently featured in the “Antman” sequel, judging from its YouTube comments.
I sprung for the Hollies version of the Eagles’ “Witchy Woman” over the original because I like it better. The Hollies’ layered vocaling and raw guitar work fit the mood of the song more appropriately than the more subdued Eagles version, in my eyes. It’s a good thing all opinions on music are inherently subjective!
“Dracula’s Daughter” by Lord Sutch & The Savages is a track from 2015 that seems like it was produced in 1965. The song features one of those sticky guitar riffs that sounds like it came straight off the soundtrack of original “Scooby-Doo” series. The entire album that the track is off of, “Til the Following Night,” has this same incredibly fun aesthetic, and if you were to look up just one track off this listing, I’d hope it’d be this one.
Otherwise, I think this short and sweet playlist features some of the best of the best of those classic autumn tracks, and I hope it will help expand your set soundtrack for the season.
Autumn 2k18 Baby:
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” – The Clash
“Season of the Witch” – Donovan
“Spooky” – Dusty Springfield
“Maneater” – Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Pet Sematary” – Ramones
“I Put a Spell On You” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon
“Lovesong” – The Cure
“Magic Man” – Heart
“Dracula’s Daughter” – Screaming Lord Sutch & The Savages
“Devil Woman” – Cliff Richard
“Witchy Woman” – the Hollies
“The Killing Moon” – Echo & the Bunnymen
“Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” – David Bowie
“Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads
Listen to the Spotify playlist here!