Songs That Are Also Ghost Stories

Has this been mentioned yet?

[Payton Oswald Voice] “Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy is kind of a ghost story? [/POV]

There’s also something to be said for Gordon Lightfoot, with If You Could Read My Mind.

This is either a love story or a ghost story…or maybe both?

I mentioned Kate Bush and Wuthering Heights earlier and that is definitely a ghost story.

I’m now going to offer the more ambiguous The Man With The Child In His Eyes which was Kate’s follow up single.

Kate herself has said it’s a song about a young girl in a relationship with a much older man. Years later Kate (who according to varying accounts was 13, 14 or perhaps about 16 when she wrote the song) confirmed she was herself always attracted to older men although part of the appeal is that men always seem to maintain a juvenile quality: Hence the song title.

However the general lyrics and music have a haunting quality. Kate’s man arrives at night, no one else knows about him which could just be suggesting an illicit relationship.

Until more specifically the lyrics include the man is

Telling me about the sea,
All his love, 'til eternity.

Point being this, for some, ties the song to the (book and film) The Ghost And Mrs Muir where a woman moves into a house haunted by the ghost of a sailer and a romance ensues between them. Eventually the woman dies (of old age) and the ghost carries her away - presumably for eternity.

It is of course possible the song is exploring both concepts. The dreamy soft focus ‘Yoga’ video doesn’t really provide any additional clues.


In the same spirit (pun intended this time 'round) - how about Tangled Up In Blue? OK, it’s not a conventional ghost story, but I have long held the view that one of the ways to interpret it is as a story of lovers trapped in a succession of reincarnations, cursed to play out the same story in each lifetime, with the song ending as the cycle starts again.


Steeleye Span? Saw them live a couple of times, collected most of their recordings. Lots of ghost stories there.

The British folklore tradition has plenty. The Child ballads collection is chock-full of them. And probably more than one song about the unquiet grave.

Scotland has Annan Water, Ireland The well below the valley and She moved through the fair (the usual version, an alternative version has a playful explanation). In a nautical vein, The Bay of Biscay-o. Not so much ghostly as morbid, but the Welsh song The ash grove.

How about Neil Young’s “Powderfinger”? I’ve always assumed the narrator died at the end.

Molly Malone, for the last verse at least.

Ghost Trains

In the folk ballad category, how about “Unfortunate Miss Bailey”?

For sure-- “then I saw black, and my face splashed in the sky”. “Remember me to my love, I know I’ll miss her”. Similar to ‘The Long Black Veil’, it is definitely a dead narrator song.

I’m surprised I didn’t think of that one. When I was 15 or so I wore out my LP of ‘Rust Never Sleeps’, and ‘Powderfinger’ was one of my favorite songs on the album.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned yet…

is it a ghost story or not? Love Vigilantes

Waltzing Matilda.

Kind of a giveaway from the title, but “Ghost Radio” by Brian Setzer and Joe Strummer

Concrete Blonde’s Ghost of a Texas Lady’s Man gets some points for the line

You don’t scare me you don’t scare me I cried
To my ectoplasmic lover from the other side

And in the ever-popular Children’s Round category, “Have You Seen the Ghost of John?”

I had it on 8 track. I also have it on CD now.

Riding With Private Malone, David Ball, 2001. Singer is pulled from fiery car crash by ghost of previous owner, a solder who died in Viet Nam. (Video includes lyrics full of spelling errors, and consistently mis-spells “riding” as “ridding”.)

Just google for “ghost songs” and you’ll find many lists of them. Here’s one, for example:

Includes a few already mentioned in this thread.

List of 102 songs with the word “Ghost” in the title. Although I didn’t listen to them, I would assume that at least some of them are actually about ghosts. In fact, the lede here says that most of them are about ghosts: