Dead Man's Bones: Halloween Arrives Early

Halloween may or may not be suitable for adults — Spencer Gifts and Party City vote "yes" — but the members of Dead Man's Bones celebrate the holiday every day of the year regardless. They don't dress up, but members Zach Shields and Ryan Gosling founded their project based on their mutual love of ghosts, werewolves and zombies; it's a love they thought worth celebrating as often as possible.

Wednesday's Pick

  • Song: "My Body's a Zombie for You"
  • Artist: Dead Man's Bones
  • CD: Dead Man's Bones
  • Genre: Rock
Dead Man's Bones i i

hide caption"My Body's a Zombie for You" betrays just how much fun is it to sing about stuff that scares us, zombies and love included.

Hama Sanders
Dead Man's Bones

"My Body's a Zombie for You" betrays just how much fun is it to sing about stuff that scares us, zombies and love included.

Hama Sanders

Every track on their self-titled debut focuses on death and scary creatures, but "My Body's a Zombie for You" hints at other themes, as well. The song rocks and wobbles, not as a tribute to its protagonist, but as a result of Shields and Gosling's willful amateurism. Neither really knew how to play their instruments before they began playing, and each made it a point to record songs in as few takes as possible, mistakes and all. The band's primitive doo-wop piano and lurching beat provide suitable companions for the song's real star: the Silverlake Conservatory Children's Choir, which provides most of the album's vocals. The kids clap and shout the chorus here, turning every word into an exclamation. Gosling moans the song's creepier verses, and with lines like "I hold my soul from the lands unknown / to play the strings of your death," the song's other theme (obsessive love) seems worse than the walking dead.

All together, they subvert some of indie rock's most beloved tropes, with feigned amateurism and naivete replaced by real amateurs and real children. It even subverts Gosling's own childhood singing career, when he was a trained and polished heartthrob in the '90s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club. The song ends on the children's zealous playground chant — "I'm a Z-O-M-B-I-E, zombie!" — which betrays just how much fun is it to sing about stuff that scares us, zombies and love included.

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Dead Man's Bones

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  • Album: Dead Man's Bones
  • Artist: Dead Man's Bones
  • Label: Anti
  • Released: 2009
 

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