8 Songs that are Pretty Damn Creepy
Sup my grue-lings, Your old pal Ani here!
So recently I heard a song that kinda freaked me out when I was a kid and it got me thinking about all the creepy-ass songs that exist. I’m not talking about shit that’s intentionally meant to be spooky or conjure up horror-themed images. Ya know, stuff like “Thriller” or “Werewolf of London”. No, I’m talking about songs that at first glance sounds like regular melodies about life, love, and other shit, but upon further inspection reveal something more…unsettling.
Gather round my little Demento’s and follow me down the musical rabbit hole of messed up melodies. Listed below are eight songs that vary from kinda creepy to seriously fucked up.
8.) Gordon Lightfoot – “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald”
On November 10th, 1965, the S. S. Edmond Fitzgerald sank into Lake Superior taking all 29 of its crew to a watery grave. No bodies were ever recovered and the cause of the sinking is unknown to this day. The mystery surrounding the ship and its tragic sinking are eerie to begin with, but a year later Singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot released and gained a hit with his song “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald”, which tells the tale of the doomed ship and its crew. Now I know, a story of a boat sinking isn’t really that creepy, however, the way Lightfoot chose to sing it turns the song into a sad and chilling affair. Sung like an old sea shanty, there’s a feeling of listening to the tale being told on a dark and rainy night, carried to us on the wind by the lost souls of the sunken vessel. Need I say more?
7.) Bobbi Gentry – “Ode to Billie Joe”
When this one first comes on it sounds like a simple old country tune, but listen closely and you’ll discover something darker going on. The song centers around a girl and her family having supper and discussing the events of the day. It’s revealed that a local boy, Billie Joe committed suicide by jumping off the Tallahatchie Bridge. The girl seems deeply bothered by the news but doesn’t say anything. It’s then revealed that the town preacher saw her and Billie Joe a few days prior throwing something into the Tallahatchie. The song ends by telling us what happened a year after the tragic event. The father got sick and died and the mother sank into a deep depression of which she hasn’t recovered. Singer, Songwriter, Bobbi Gentry has stated that the song is about indifference and unshared grief. The family speaks of Billie Joe’s death as lightly as they do regarding other mundane events, never considering the impact it may have on others, particularly their daughter. In the end, the mother is feeling the same grief her daughter felt a year prior but her kids now seem to be as indifferent as she had been.
This is dark enough, but it’s not what’s most famous and unsettling about this song. What people find most troublesome is the question that to date, still has no answer: What did the daughter and Billie Joe throw into the Tallahatchie and why did Billie Joe kill himself? Some have speculated it was an aborted fetus. Others have speculated that it was perhaps the body of someone the couple killed. In either case, the guilt leads Billie to off himself.
One other theory, though not as dark as the first two, but still messed up, is that it was a wedding ring. Billie proposed and was turned down by the daughter. In anger, he tossed the ring. A few days later, rejected he kills himself.
Gentry says there is a definitive answer, but she ain’t telling. So the mystery endures, and thanks to Gentry’s soft vocals and simple musical arrangement, the song retains a quiet unnerving quality. What do you think they threw off the Tallahatchie bridge?
6.) Vicki Lawerence – “The Night the Lights went out in Georgia”
This one started its life as a song meant for a young Cher to sing. However, her then hubbie, Sonny Bono, turned it down as he felt the lyrics didn’t paint a good picture of the south and didn’t want his wife getting southern hate. The song may have gone forgotten but thankfully Songwriter Bobby Russel’s then-wife, Vicki Lawerence who you may remember from “The Carol Burnett Show” and as Mama in “Mama’s Family” decided she’d sing it. It’s a good thing because her vocals make this one.
The song starts with a man named Andy, stopping at a bar after work for a drink before going home to his new wife. While there his best friend informs him his wife isn’t home, she’s out of town sleeping with another man. If that wasn’t bad enough, the friend admits he himself had slept with her. Andy goes home and gets his gun intent on killing his former best bud, however, when he arrives at the friend’s house he finds him lying dead in a pool of blood. He flags the sheriff down but is arrested for his trouble and after a bullshit trial is falsely convicted of the murder and hung. But wait…theeeere’s more!
The song ends with the singer revealing she’s the little sister of Andy and that it was she who killed the friend and that cheating wife wasn’t out of town, she was dead and that “That’s one body that’ll never be found.”
The lyrics are dark enough, but Lawerence’s vocals are what makes this one so chilling, she really sells it. Reba McIntyre redid the song years later, but as much as I love me some Reba, her vocals just don’t deliver that same tense eerie vibe. The gleeful tone Vicki strikes when revealing who really committed the crime is goosebump-inducing.
If there’s something to learn here it’s this: Don’t fuck around on someone with a crazy little sister. Nuff said!
5.) Helen Reddy – “Angie, Baby”
I hate to admit this, but when I was a wee lad, still hanging with my homies on Sesame Street, this song freaked me the fuck out! I was glad to learn years later that I wasn’t the only one and that many still find it unsettling.
The song concerns a girl named Angie who is, well, nuts. She’s taken out of school by her parents and has no friends. She spends all her time in her room listening to her radio and dancing with all her imaginary lovers who come out of it. Except the friends may not be imaginary.
Well, one day a neighbor boy comes calling when her folks aren’t home, intent on having his way with her. However, when he enters Angie’s room, the loud radio causes him to become confused. As Angie turns down the volume the boy shrinks until he is absorbed by the radio.
The song ends by telling us the town declares the boy missing and eventually dead while Angie continues to listen to her radio and dance with her “Imaginary lovers”.
So what is it about? That’s the rub, no one knows except Heddy and she refuses to spill the beans. many have speculated Angie had special powers, powers that allowed her to trap boys she fancied in the radio.
The song’s writer Alan O’Day while also refusing to explain just what the hell was going on has admitted that Angie does have powers but that’s all he’ll say.
Whatever the case, the song has creeped out its fair share of folk’s thanks to it’s strange twilight zone like story and Reddy’s unique voice. there’s even a creepy cartoon to go with the song that was aired in the 70’s. Check it out above and stay away from crazy chicks named Angie!
4.) Judy Collins – “Pretty Polly”
This one is just plained fucked up. Originally it was sung by Dock Bogg’s in 1927 as an Appalachian country song. Pretty much all Appalachian country of the early 20th century is creepy as fuck but it’s Judy Collins 1968 version that really turns up the creepy factor on this ditty.
The song is about a young man named Willie, who after courting her, goes on a date with a girl named Polly. The two enjoy a lovely stroll as Willie guides her to a place he’d like her to see, but at some point, Polly begins to suspect Willie has dark plans for her. When she finally confronts him about it he doesn’t hesitate to confirm her worst fears by explaining that he spent the night digging her grave of which they have arrived. She begs for her life but Willie simply declines her pleas and stabs her in the heart. He then turns himself into the police. No reason is given as to why Willie murdered poor Polly.
The nonchalant way Willie act’s throughout the song, so calm and relaxed as he tells Polly how he plans to kill her and then does it as she pleads for her life, as if he was simply putting out the trash is horrific in of itself, especially considering that there doesn’t seem to be a motive, but Collins haunting vocals add a dark chilling air to it.
3.) Bruce Springsteen – “Nebraska”
The Boss is best known for writing and singing songs dealing with the daily struggles of the working class American. Some are catchy, others are downright fucking depressing, but in 1982 he took a break from chronicling working-class life and wrote and sang a little tune that was downright scary.
At first “Nebraska” sounds like another Springsteen song about a boy and a girl in a car making the getaway from their town full of losers. However, once we realize that the boy is infamous serial killer Charlie Starkweather, the real-life spree killer who rampaged through the American west for two months in the late Fifties and the girl, his “pretty baby” was 14-year-old Caril Ann Fugate who accompanied him on said spree, shit changes.
Springsteen may not be the best vocalist in the world, but the man can sure as hell depress the fuck out you with his melancholy voice. Here, he dials it up to eleven as he tells us about the two and their fate. He comes off as a tired man who is deeply depressed at the senseless depravity that exists in the world. No struggles are recorded, no light is waiting at the end of the tunnel. There isn’t even any rhyme or reason for the horrific murder spree. It’s just the boss relaying a sad fact of life: Bad shit happens and there isn’t always a reason. This is perfectly encompassed in the final verse where Charlie’s is asked the reasons for his cruelty. He simply shrugs and answers: “There’s just a meanness in this world.”
2.) Sarah McLachlan – “Possession”
Here we have a case of a song being creepy not just for its lyrics, which concerns a stalker/rapist, but because of the fucked up story behind it. Ok, here we go:
In the early ’90s Ms. Mclachlan was being stalked and sent tons of letters by a dude who wasn’t shy about all the sexual thing’s he’d do to her if they got a moment alone. Dude believed Sarah was his by right. Rather than curl up in a ball and die, Sarah took lines from the letters and made this song cause Sarah is a make lemonade kind of girl.
It doesn’t end there. The stalker, after recognizing his words in the song sued Sarah for “breach of confidence and breach of moral rights.” Basically, he admitted — in legal documents — to writing two years’ worth of unsolicited letters to someone he didn’t know, then accused McLachlan of betraying his trust by writing about them…
However, when he discovered Sarah wouldn’t be attending court for the hearing, he killed himself.
So remember when you listen to this song about a stalker rapist, that the words are from an ACTUAL stalker who killed himself. Cheers!
1.) Billie Holiday – “Gloomy Sunday aka The Hungarian Suicide song”
This list would not be complete without a cursed song. Yeah, you heard me, a cursed song.
Most know Gloomy Sunday as legendary singer Billie Holidays signature song. A deeply depressing tune about a person wanting to commit suicide after his lover dies. The song was originally composed by Hungarian pianist and composer Rezső Seress and published in 1933. The original lyrics were a bit different as was the title which was “Vége a világnak” (The world is ending). The song was initially about despair caused by war, ending in a quiet prayer about people’s sins. Poet László Jávor, however, wrote his own lyrics to the song, titled Szomorú vasárnap (Sad Sunday), in which the protagonist wants to commit suicide following his lover’s death, which became the de facto version. The song was first recorded in Hungarian by Pál Kalmár in 1935 but became very popular after being covered by legendary singer Billie Holiday.
The lyrics are depressing as shit, but the fact that this song has lead to hundreds of suicides is even more depressing and creepy. It caused so many in hungry that it was dubbed the Hungarian suicide song, but its influence went beyond Hungaria. People all over the world have committed suicide after hearing the song. radio stations actually banned it for a time out of fear of causing listeners to off themselves. What’s worse, Holiday is said to have succumbed to the curse herself, after dying due to drug addiction. As for the original composure of the song Rezső Seress? You guessed it, he committed suicide.
From time to time word of someone else killing themselves after listening to the song pops up, thus convincing people the curse is very real and still in effect. For those with a death wish, you can listen to the song above but first, you gotta ask yourself something. You feeling lucky?
Well, do ya, punk?