The Songs That Scare

Clockwise from top: Sufjan Stevens, Iron Maiden's "Eddie" mascot, Psycho's Bates Motel, Tom Waits.

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Clockwise from top: Sufjan Stevens, Iron Maiden's "Eddie" mascot, Psycho's Bates Motel, Tom Waits.

Courtesy of the artists

If you're going out this weekend, there's a good chance you'll hear "Monster Mash," Purple People Eater" or the Addams Family theme at some point — and you won't be scared at all. On this edition of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and Jacob Ganz, editor of NPR's music news blog The Record, put those Halloween staples aside to focus on the music they and our listeners find truly, deeply terrifying.

Included are suburban horror stories from Tom Waits, Liars and Hayden, fantastical tales from Iron Maiden and The Decemberists, Bernard Herrmann's legendary score for a fictional killer and Sufjan Stevens' creepily empathetic ode to a real one.

The Songs That Scare

Cover for Psycho

Bernard Herrmann

  • Album: Psycho
  • Song: Psycho Suite
YouTube
 
Cover for Powerslave

Iron Maiden

  • Album: Powerslave
  • Song: Powerslave
YouTube
 
Cover for Illinoise

Sufjan Stevens

  • Album: Illinoise
  • Song: John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
YouTube
 
Cover for Mule Variations

Tom Waits

  • Album: Mule Variations
  • Song: What's He Building in There
YouTube
 
Cover for Hazards of Love

The Decemberists

  • Album: Hazards of Love
  • Song: The Rake's Song
YouTube
 
Cover for Ummagumma

Pink Floyd

  • Album: Ummagumma
  • Song: Careful With That Axe, Eugene
YouTube
 
Cover for It Fit When I Was a Kid

Liars

  • Album: It Fit When I Was a Kid
  • Song: It Fit When I Was a Kid
YouTube
 
Cover for Everything I Long For

Hayden

  • Album: Everything I Long For
  • Song: When This Is Over
YouTube
 
Cover for White Light/White Heat

The Velvet Underground

  • Album: White Light/White Heat
  • Song: The Gift
YouTube
 

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