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My sister and I have been working on this for years, gradually adding songs to the list as we hear them. The general rule: they have to seem normal (even romantic) until you listen to the lyrics because it’s always creepier when the creepiness sneaks up on you. Like deranged toddlers. It’s delicious. And the work isn’t done yet — like Pokémon fans, we want to catch ’em all. But since it’s that special time of year where we celebrate all things creepy, and because I haven’t posted anything in a while, I figured I’d share what we have so far. Enjoy! And if you can think of any additions, please list them below. (Also, these are in no particular order, and the links go to Youtube videos as official as achievable.)

1. “Private Eyes” by Hall & Oates
H&O are a guilty pleasure of mine, and this song seems really upbeat when you don’t pay attention to the lyrics (which my mom, for one, never does). The first verse even seems pretty run-of-the-mill until you get to the last line before the chorus that says, “You can’t escape my private eyes…” And suddenly it becomes a stalker theme song.

2. “Every Breath You Take” by The Police
This is probably the most famous stalker theme song, but it still counts because if you’re not really paying attention to the lyrics, it sounds like a normal, you-broke-my-heart-but-I’m-still-in-love song. But it’s really, really not.

3. “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” by Henry Hall and the BBC Dance Orchestra, featuring vocalist Val Rosing
This is a little different from the others on the list because it sounds super-creepy but is actually — when considering the lyrics alone — just a sweet children’s song from the ’30s. Which makes the song as a whole even creepier.

4. “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart
My sister and I used to laugh about this song — the bad synths, the cheesy, wailing guitar, the fact that Hart seems to think that wearing sunglasses at night makes him cool — until we heard it on the radio on the way to the airport one fateful day. And we realized two things: a) it’s actually pretty awesome (in a cheesy, ’80s pop music way), and b) it’s a classic stalker song filled with veiled threats alluding to switchblades and at the same time trying to be reassuring by telling the beloved, “Don’t be afraid.” Which makes me afraid.

5. “Living Room” by Tegan and Sara
My sister gets the credit for this one. Another stalker song, this time with a banjo. But, admittedly, if Tegan Quin confessed to spending every morning obsessively watching me go about my daily business, I’d invite her in for a glass of wine instead of calling the cops.

6. “One Way or Another” by Blondie
If we were to compare songs to real stalkers, this one would be Stalker Sarah, a little bit older, in heels.

7. “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews Band
It really does sound like a regular love song throughout most of it, until you get to 3:17. I won’t spoil the surprise in case you don’t already know what I’m talking about.

8. “One of These Nights” by The Eagles
It took me forever to realize that this was actually a threat veiled in sweet nothings. Don Henley, a love song is no longer romantic if you threaten to come up behind and “get” me.

9. “Don’t You Want Me” by The Human League
Like the Police song above, this one is pretty obviously stalker-creepy, but I didn’t realize it until the Swiffer commercials. I’m going to assume that other people lived the majority of their lives thinking this was just a New Wave dance song, too, and I’m blowing your minds right now.

10. “Aqualung” by Jethro Tull
The line “Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent” and the later, connected line, “Sitting in the cold sun, watching the frilly panties run” is really all that needs to be mentioned about this song. Also, ick.

11. “I Will Possess Your Heart” by Death Cab for Cutie
Another seemingly normal love song, assuming that the title isn’t a literal vow. But the line at 5:38 changes everything. As casual as he tries to make it sound, it is not okay to look into someone’s window as you “slowly pass.” Maybe it’s not at the stalker level, but it’s still creepy.

12. “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)” by Coheed and Cambria
While the parenthetical subtitle of the song is pretty metal, most of the lyrics are fairly tame on a surface level. It’s just a guy debating with himself about leaving his girlfriend, right? Nope. In the spoken part in the middle of the song, it’s revealed that the protagonist is having a conversation with his bicycle about killing her off. Which takes this song (and the rest of the album) to a Son of Sam level of creepiness.

13. “Come Sail Away” by Styx
No, it isn’t a love song. It’s about an alien abduction. That may not surprise you, but it took some people I know (see #1) around 20 years to realize it. Which makes it perfect for the list.

Happy Halloween!


It’s been around a year since I first heard Fleet Foxes’ “The Shrine/An Argument,” and I’m still in love with it. So is my husband, who said this morning, “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that [this] is one of the best songs ever… It’s everything amazing all rolled into one.” And that’s coming from a sometimes agonizingly picky musician.

If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s definitely folk, reminiscent of ’60s groups like Simon and Garfunkel, but refreshed by non-folk elements like the free jazz bit at the end. It’s mysterious and ambient, unexpected and austere, progressive without being off-putting. It’s deeply, tenderly spiritual in a personal, unsentimental, non-evangelistic way. It’s flakes of sunlight, dark caverns, green apples, hidden pools, gray ghosts of fog drifting along the chill northwestern coastline. It physically hurts — like lovesickness — to hear it. Robin Pecknold singing, “Sunlight over me no matter what I do,” stretching out his pretty-folk-singer voice to release a brief, hoarse cry, gives me chills. The lovesickness is for those wafts of simplicity and purity and the kind of primal spirituality that escapes language and ritual, that’s only observation and feeling, that come in certain pensive moments I wish I could gather up and cling to, but that inevitably slip away the moment I recognize them for what they are.

“The Shrine/An Argument” also has an incredible music video directed by Sean Pecknold (Robin’s older brother and the man behind The video, like the song, is eerily mythic, at once surreal and earth-bound. Listen to the song with your eyes closed first, then watch the video below.

“WU LYF” is an acronym for World Unite/Lucifer Youth Federation — “Lucifer” in this case adhering to the title’s original meaning, “bringer of light” (initially used to refer to the morning star), with a tongue-in-cheek, rebellious nod to its modern connotations. They’re from Manchester, England, and say they play “heavy pop.”

In a world that’s often more politicized and “moral” than compassionate and free, this is an important, necessary song. It calls us back to our roots as animals, as creatures existing without all the nonsense of ideologies and campaigns and the pointless back-biting that’s caused by those things. It’s about being connected and realizing that connection, not to the suits we wear (what religion we follow, how much money we have, what we do for a living, which political party we support, how we look, who we love, and so on), but to each other just because we are. It’s about getting back to that primordial sensitivity we seem to have forgotten — a sensitivity both to the people around us and to ourselves, our own innocent impulses. The song (the entire album, Go Tell Fire to the Mountain, in fact) is one of those rare gestures that gives us permission to really be ourselves, to fully feel out our humanity without shame. And that’s important, at least to me.


This ship’s set sail,
set sail on you and me.
This ship’s set sail;
I just wanted to be free.

So maybe we will fail,
fail to not see;
maybe we will fail,
but at least we will be free.

You stand so holy;
Nah, don’t sit down.
Join the feet all marching
across the ground.

This place so lonely,
but, nah, don’t settle down;
just hear the beat drown over
all this lonesome sound.

It’s a sad song that makes a man put
money before life,
a sad song that puts a man up for sale,
a sad song that make a man put
money before life.
How many asses are you gonna have to sell?

We were born as animals.
We were born as animals and we bros,
but you put suits on animals;
you try to put suits on animals, but we bros.

We bros, you lost man.
We bros so long.
Put away your guns, man,
and sing this song.

And I said the mountain won’t go falling
if your still willing to climb,
but when the mountain goes falling,
true riches you will find.

Nah, we were born as animals,
born as animals and we bros,
but you put suits on animals;
you try to put suits on animals, but we bros.

We bros, you lost man.
We bros so long.
Put away your guns, man,
and sing this song.

For more from WU LYF, check out their site here. I also recommend this really great article from Spinner.

This is The Radar Cinema’s new video for my favorite song of theirs, “Super Gouls ‘n’ Ghosts.” It was recorded by Jonathan Cook at their last show at Sky City in Augusta, GA. Check it out!

I highly recommend checking out the new music video from The Radar Cinema (below), filmed in recording at Morgan Parham’s studio in Evans, GA. “Consignment” is a great song and the video has a very cool, intimate feel.

For more about The Radar Cinema and their music, click the last link on the left.

I’ve been moving further away from popular music lately, listening more to low-key songs with deep roots. It’s been part of a general move, I think, toward simplicity and quietness — things unadorned, that hint rather than shout, that tenderly lay all bare and still embody mystery. So I’ve been listening to musicians like the Great Lake Swimmers, Old Man Luedecke, Joanna Newsom (thanks to my brother) and Joni Mitchell’s early music.

And then, for my birthday last month, my mother-in-law gave me a great CD, Old-Time Smoky Mountain Music. It’s a compilation of 34 songs, ballads and instrumentals endemic to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. All of the music on the CD was recorded in 1939 by “Song Catcher” Joseph S. Hall on assignment from the National Park Service, who displaced the people of the area to make way for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A lot of the music was considered lost until recently, when the recordings were rediscovered and released by the Great Smoky Mountains Association. My husband’s family is from Tennessee and I have ancestors from North Carolina, so it’s a little like listening to the ghosts of our ancestors. But what my husband and I love most about the music on the CD is its sweet homeliness. The voices are unpolished and often off-key; the fiddle and guitar strings squeak as fingers slide along the fretboards; and the recordings have that scratchy, muffled overtone that accompanies old sounds. It’s this ruggedness that makes the sound so pure. So often we think of purity as sanitized reality, but it isn’t. True purity is gritty, unpolished, flawed. Nothing is perfect and art rooted in truth accepts this, values it. To deny the soil, the warps and flaws of nature is to deny the whole, to make it less-than. I find myself needing that wholeness more and more as I go on.

If one were to ascribe a tone to my stories, I hope it would be similar to the sound of the following two songs.

“Your Rocky Spine” by Great Lake Swimmers

This is my favorite song in the world. Delicate, haunted, absolutely sincere and lovely. It’s a perfect song without a single expected or awkward moment. I never get tired of hearing it. Of course, I keep my listening at a minimum to protect it from falling into the “overplayed” category. I don’t want to ruin it for myself.

“Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons

More haunting banjo music. I love this song’s dark edge, a little rock ‘n’ roll twist without merging into the cross-over category.  It has an icy, austere quality, like being in the mountains at night during the winter, and an aching, yearning regret that tears me in two.

I also like the Prohibition-era aesthetic of both videos. Really charming, I think.