The Songs That Scare

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

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

Courtesy of the artists hide caption

itoggle caption 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

  • Song: Psycho Suite
  • From: Psycho
Cover for Powerslave

Iron Maiden

  • Song: Powerslave
  • From: Powerslave
Cover for Illinoise

Sufjan Stevens

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

Tom Waits

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

The Decemberists

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

Pink Floyd

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


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


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

The Velvet Underground

  • Song: The Gift
  • From: White Light/White Heat



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