Translation: Berlin Philharmonic. Listening CD. Published by Teldec Classics. Release date.
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As this murder ballad became a folk standard, recorded most famously by the Stanley Brothers in , the events it relates became the stuff of hazy legend.
But when this struggling three-man string band first sang these lyrics in , their story of Charlie Lawson was ripped from the headlines. Just a year earlier, on Christmas Day, Lawson murdered his wife and six of his seven children, rested their heads on pillows of stone and then killed himself. The seventh child was out on an errand at the time. The Buddies sing with a cool Appalachian resignation, acknowledging but not sensationalizing the violent terror lurking in everyday life.
The idea that a man might one day snap without explanation and destroy his family and himself feels all the more tragic set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, suggesting as it does that not even family life could offer refuge from the economic despair of the age.
Maybe the best-known Appalachian murder ballad is the first-person account of an apparently otherwise ordinary Tennessee fellow who inexplicably takes time out from a stroll with his sweetheart to beat her to death with a stick despite her heartbreaking protests. On the recording they made for their debut LP Tragic Songs of Life later a country hit , Ira and Charlie Louvin harmonize with grim rectitude over a brisk, easy waltz rhythm that adds to the fatalism of its crisply moralistic ending, with the violent creep wasting away in prison.
Though really, the murderer doesn't sound any more repentant in jail then he had when he was dumping his slain gal in the river then heading home to bed. First recorded in its recognizable modern form in the s, "Knoxville Girl" in fact drew from material that had been floating around for centuries, maybe traceable back to a real-life 17th Century killing in Wittam, England.
Over the years, the titular victim hailed from a variety of towns — from Oxford, England to Wexford, Ireland — which suggests, terrifyingly enough, that just about every locale had at least one bloodthirsty woman-slayer to be sung about. These things are unusual, even after 50 years. With so-called normal symphony orchestras, sometimes I refuse to have this piece in the program, because it takes too much rehearsal. Though the piece is more about "colors" than notes, "Volumina" is made remarkably anxious thanks to its long passages of dissonance and a duration that hovers somewhere north or south of the minute mark.
Clocking in at nearly 12 minutes, Jim Morrison's epic "The End" is a bad trip that builds up to an insane, surprising end. The psychedelic rock epic has widely been interpreted as a goodbye to childhood innocence, and Morrison has said as much in interviews. It begins calmly, with the singer bidding adieu to his only friend, the end, before taking a lyrical tailspin into wilder verses, begging the listener to "ride the snake" and "ride the highway west.
They were fired the next day. The psychedelia of the Sixties translated its share of horrific fantasies into swirls of ominous sound, echoes of bad trips that spelunked into the listener's wormy subconscious. At the start, Richard Wright's organ diddles and Nick Mason's cymbals flutter, with soft, distant moans foreshadowing doom. Then the title is whispered and before the danger it suggests has a chance to register, Roger Waters screams repeatedly with horrific derangement.
David Gilmour's guitar whips up a frenzy in response, but soon the music returns to the hushed, eerie lull that proceeded the violent interlude. Something dreadful has happened, and we're left to imagine it.
One-hit wonders Bloodrock improbably scored a Top 40 hit with a gruesome, eight-and-a-half minute, first-person account of dying. The hard rockers' music resembles a British ambulance siren and the lyrics describe the gory aftermath of a plane crash as a man is tended to by an EMT.
He feels "something warm flowing down [his] fingers," he tries to move his arm but when he looks he sees "there's nothing there. No wonder gloom-rock poet laureate Nick Cave has been covering the song for more than 30 years.
Shock rock's greatest act could add any number of songs to a list of truly frightening songs — "Dead Babies" about child neglect , "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" an insider's view of going mad , "Sick Things" sick things — but it's one of Alice Cooper's at least three! In a Rolling Stone interview , Alice Cooper shrugged off the tune's shock value.
If I cut my arm off and ate it, OK, that would be shocking. But you can only do it twice. The lyrics were directly sourced and spliced from a written testament by artist Blaster Al Ackerman — who served as a medic in Vietnam, and later in a burn victim unit at a hospital, where he cared for a woman who was scorched from her waist to her face. The song was cowritten by Cave and his then-girlfriend Anita Lane, interpolating tonal elements of American Southern Gothic into roiling, cartoonish art-rock.
Although the band fell apart just a year later, the Birthday Party influenced gothic rock by incorporating disparate strands of blues and rockabilly to eerie effect. Just another Springsteen song about a boy and a car and a girl. Bruce had given a voice to desperate souls before, but those were usually good people fallen on hard times. Although Metallica were underground trendsetters for the early half of the Eighties, they broke into mainstream consciousness in with "One," a single about a quadriplegic solider asking to die.
He eventually headbangs Morse code on his pillow, asking his doctors to kill him. For Metallica, that story — set against machine-gun thrash riffs for nearly eight minutes — made for an unlikely Top 40 hit, an unforgettable music video using footage from the movie and a Grammy win. A tale told by a bog witch of the highest order. In the lead single from her album, To Bring You My Love , Polly Jean Harvey transforms into a beguiling, filicidal mother from a swampy underworld, beckoning her daughter back from the river she drowned in.
The music video sees Harvey undulating to a sinister cha-cha rhythm and thrashing underwater in a red satin dress: She genuinely struggled to come up to the surface, she told Spin , thanks to the weight of her hefty black wig. The low drone that opens Scott Walker's track "Farmer In The City" only hints at the plainly laid out horror that's going to come. The pop idol turned experimental miserablist has the sort of voice that can't be described using simple terms like "haunting" or "funereal" — he has a precisely calibrated moan with a vibrato, and the pitch-black music he's released in the past two decades has used his voice, and his bleak outlook, to arresting effect.
Over a tense, spare arrangement by the Sinfonia of London, Walker wails his abstract interpretation of the Italian film director and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini's final thoughts he was murdered in Nearly every Nick Cave song is scary; few artists have dedicated themselves to the grim and macabre like the Australian Bad Seeds leader.
In the mid Nineties he tasked himself with writing and recording the self-explanatory album Murder Ballads , whose songs claimed the lives of dozens upon dozens of hapless fictional victims. This dramatic monologue from a nosy neighbor is set to a palette of eerie sound effects — subdued metallic clangs, low-rent electronic flutters — that would be the envy of any haunted house designer. Always a creepy dude not for nothing did Francis Ford Coppola cast him as the bug-gobbling Renfield in his take on Dracula , Tom Waits wheezes here like he's shining a flashlight underneath his chin to spook an edgy campfire scout troop.
In fact, they way he repeatedly intones, "What's he building in there? At least until the unsettling coda, where we hear the whistling from the home of the eccentric builder for ourselves. Eminem's revenge fantasia "'97 Bonnie And Clyde" was an upbeat yet horrifying track where the bleached-blonde MC detailed a father-daughter trip to the beach, with some hints that "Mama," in the trunk, wasn't exactly along for the ride willingly.
Tori Amos's reinvention for her covers album Strange Little Girls ups the American-gothic quotient with horror-movie strings, dimestore-synth beats, and a flip of the song's perspective — her strangled delivery and parental tenderness make the monologue sound as if it's coming from the victim as the life is being bled right out of her.
There was one person who definitely wasn't dancing to this thing, and that's the woman in the trunk. And she spoke to me. One of rap's most chilling songs comes in the form of Eminem's rhyme-for-rhyme recreation of the moment an abusive relationship turns deadly. Written and released when his relationship with now-ex-wife Kim Scott was at its most toxic, the rapper murders Kim's husband and stepson while verbally abusing her from her home to a car to the site where he finally ends her life.
He screams the entire song and even imitates Kim's voice for moments where she refutes his statements. Dre told Rolling Stone in It's good, though. Kim gives him a concept. But the sounds now-defunct NYC quartet Khanate made in the first decade of the s actually lived up to that description, achieving rare levels of forbidding bleakness.
What that means in practice is the sound of metal stretched and abstracted into agonizingly tense epics like this minute behemoth. Stevens' ambitious Illinois tackled several moments from the state's history, including the haunting tale of Seventies serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
Stevens' subdued style of musical delivery — softly singing over the muted pluck of a guitar — makes his almost tender empathy for Gacy all the more chilling. As Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic has gained critical praise for music that pulsates like underground techno, but has tense, nail-biting, stomach-churning textures that seem straight from the drippy-dense sound world of slasher movie foley work. Though breakthrough album Excavation is full of ominous slurps, rumbles and throbs, "Miste" is the scariest of all thanks to spoiler alert!
Actually, I find it quite uplifting and cathartic," Krlic told the Quietus. And that doesn't come down to me being a dark person; it's like a kind of adrenaline rush. Detroit scuzz-wallopers Wolf Eyes spent the better part of the last two decades laying down scorched distortion, throat-shredding screams and shovel-dragging slasher noise over plus releases. They've peeled back the yowl for a more dead-eyed, haunting, deserted feeling full of errant scuzz and whining woodwinds.
We didn't feel the need to annihilate everything in our path as much. You say more with less, you know? You get older and you observe more and attack less. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter. Load Previous. View Complete List. Newswire Powered by. Close the menu. Rolling Stone. To help keep your account secure, please log-in again. Arrow Created with Sketch.
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25 Songs That Are Truly Terrifying
Volumina - Works for Organ