Songs That Are Also Ghost Stories

There’s the Charlie Daniels Band’s The Legend of Wooley Swamp.The Charlie Daniels Band - The Legend Of Wooley Swamp.wmv - YouTube

Marc Cohn does see and relate the story of the ghost of Elvis but it’s only for one verse of the song Walking In Memphis


Casper’s brother has a song, too (sorta). [NSFW]

Hello - this is Joannie (telephone answering machine song)

From the country music genre:

Riding with Private Malone by David Ball is a pretty straight forward ghost story.

The lyrics for Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band are more ambiguous, but the music video interprets it as a ghost story.

The Ride (here’s David Allan Coe’s version)

David Allan Coe

Thanks @Einsteinshund, that is a great version. And yeah, I had assumed that the song was a traditional standard, old as the hills folk tune.

I always thought about the woman in the veil, jeez what a beeyotch. Cheats on her husband with his best friend, and then doesn’t say a word to exonerate him when he’s being hanged. Also, the evidence seemed awful flimsy and circumstantial to hang a guy on. A resemblance to a someone running away in the dark? Guy had bad luck in women AND lawyers.

I mean, if we’re doing versions of Long Black Veil, I gotta mention Nick Cave’s:

Where the Wild Roses Grow, of course, is also told from the perspective of the murder victim (and yeah, I’m linking to the version where Blixa Bargeld does the part of Eliza Day on purpose…)

Did not know that version existed. The first time I listened i thought wtf- it starts out as like this traditional arrangement of what sounds like a barbershop quartet on Valium, then Nick Cave comes in being all Nick Cavey, with an occasional sound effect that sounds like banshee howls in the background. On my second listen it started growing on me though.

“Dawson’s Christian” by Duane Elms. Carmen Miranda's Ghost 02 - Dawson's Christian - YouTube

“Carmen Miranda’s Ghost” by Leslie Fish. Carmen Miranda's Ghost 01 - Carmen Miranda's Ghost - YouTube

The whole album (Kicking Against the Pricks) is a bit like that. Great take on All Tomorrow’s Parties, somewhat of an unexpected version of Hey Joe.

As for the OP, here’s The Decemberists’ Hazards of Love part III, where the murdered children come to haunt the father who killed them. Great use of the inherent creepiness of children’s choirs.

The definitive version of the song (and the one that was a crossover, reaching #1 in 1949) was by Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra. It was the only song I ever heard my stepfather say he liked.

I was going to post this one.

Nick Cave must have some ghost stories, though they tend to be more about people dying rather than anything afterwards.

How could I forget this?

That’s a good call, and similarly I instantly thought of Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan when I read the OP and scanned my inner Cash and Dylan song databases for ghost songs. They both have done so many classic folk songs and wrote dark tales on their own that they seemed the best sources. I soon thought of “Long Black Veil”, but still draw a blank for Dylan, though “The Man In The Long Black Coat” has a very supernatural air about him and may be a ghost, but maybe also the devil or death itself. I’ll throw it in for consideration anyway. Then, there’s the great famous line from “Visions Of Johanna”, “the ghost of electricity howls in the bones of her face”, and though it’d be stretch to call it a ghost song, it has a spooky and otherworldly atmosphere. Then maybe it was only the drugs back then…

If we take the official video as canon then Stay by Shakespear’s Sister has the lover of a comatose and dying man fighting a personification of Death to claim him back. Which is either a Ghostly story or a ‘narrowly averted’ to coin a phrase.


The Thing That Should Not Be!

Garden Party, by Rickie Nelson.