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Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

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Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

Music

Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

Your Halloween Soundtrack, From A Candy Frenzy To The Dance Of Death

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/358527195/359065387" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns' piece Danse Macabre draws on the late-medieval allegory of "the Dance of Death" — pictured here in a painting of the same name by Frans Francken II. Getty Images / The Bridgeman Art Library hide caption

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Getty Images / The Bridgeman Art Library

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns' piece Danse Macabre draws on the late-medieval allegory of "the Dance of Death" — pictured here in a painting of the same name by Frans Francken II.

Getty Images / The Bridgeman Art Library

'Tis the season for some holiday music. Don't worry, we're not cueing up Christmas carols quite yet — but Halloween is approaching and it got us to thinking about the soundtrack to this particular holiday. Sure, there's Michael Jackson's "Thriller," with that eerie Vincent Price voice-over, and if you want something kitschy, you've got the "Monster Mash." But after that, you're left in a musical abyss.

Music writer Colin Fleming joins NPR's Rachel Martin to introduce some Halloween music you might not have thought of, including a jazz clarinet piece that's truly scary and an R&B groove to get a mummy dancing. Hear their conversation at the audio link, and check out the music and Fleming's commentary below.

Halloween Music

  • Artie Shaw, "Nightmare"

    Halloween is a big ambulatory holiday, if you think about it. Along those lines, you have Artie Shaw's "Nightmare" from 1938. His clarinet just sort of beckons you out into the night's revels. It's like this benign necromancer that you follow outside.

    YouTube
  • The Naturals, "The Mummy"

    We got a lot of songs like this after the second run of Universal horror films came out with stuff like Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman; it was all trashy and kitschy. "The Mummy is" this empty-calorie, candy type of song, but it gets a pretty good R&B groove going.

    YouTube
  • Boots Walker, "They're Here"

    This is a mega-oddity, by a guy named Boots Walker, that you'll want to save for later. You've had your Reese's Pieces and all that, and it's just a mind-blower at the end of the night.

    YouTube
  • Camille Saint-Saëns, "Danse Macabre"

    Camille Saint-Saëns' "Danse Macabre" is from 1874, so it's 140 years old, and basically the gist of it is: The reaper comes out at midnight on Halloween, starts dancing, calls up all the skeletons and they revel and dance throughout the night. The strings get going and it has the rhythm of a ghost story.

    YouTube
Correction Oct. 26, 2014

In the audio of this story, as in a previous Web version, our guest incorrectly refers to Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman as a movie from the 1950s. It was released in 1943.