Songs That Scared Me As a Kid


-"The Ghost Of John" - you've probably heard this. "Have you seen the ghost of John / long white bones with the skin all gone." We sang it in first grade music class.

-"The Old Woman All Skin and Bones" Raffi's arrangement of this old folk song about the woman who lives down by the old graveyard ("oooh ooh ooh ooooh") scared me a bit, and scared the crap out of one of my friends. I remember we made up a parody of it called "The Old Woman Who Drank Old Milk" that went on for several verses, each more disgusting than the last. I wish I remembered more than a few verses. Playground Jungle entry

-"Little Lies" by Fleetwood Mac. The organ part was a bit spooky, but Stevie Nicks' backing vocals made me think she was a witch a long time before I knew who she was or heard any such rumors about her.

-"Scarborough Fair" - this was playing on the radio one morning when I woke up at about the age of 9. It spooked me good. Sounded very ghostly to me.

-"some song" - another song that I heard in the middle of the night was some song about a ghost ship. One line, I think rhymed "the captain felt a chill" with "the tomb grew closer still." I might have misheard. I've never found out what song that was, and googling the lyrics doesn't help. People I ask about it tend to suggest "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." That wasn't it. (update - turns out it was a religious song called I Am the Lighthouse - the line was "the two grew closer still," not "the tomb." Whattaya know?)

-"Karma Chameleon" by Boy George (though I just knew the Kids Inc version) - I misheard some lyrics in this one and thought it was about death (listening to it now, I suppose it's as good a guess as any). It disturbed me in the same way that scene in A Boy Named Charlie Brown where Schoeder plays the second movement of the Pathetique Sonata and the screen is filled with images of gravestones, cathedrals, and Warholesque Popes disturbed me (and if there's a stranger scene in all of mainstream animation, I haven't seen it).

- "The Age of Not Believing" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks - I can't remember, exactly, whether this actually scared me or just depressed me. Maybe a little of both. After all, it's a song about puberty, so it should have done both. Edit to add: a couple of days after this was posted, my mother called me up from a Toys R Us that was blasting the song over the loudspeaker. Why in the world would they play this in a toy store? Isn't it all about being too old for toys?

I can find a lot of songs in my playlist now that would have scared me then if I'd heard them - I can imagine that Long Black Veil would have scared me out of my wits if I'd ever heard it as a kid.

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Adam's New Book: Sept 2013