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Night Owl - A Scottish Halloween Playlist

Twenty spooky songs made by Scottish artists

By Wilkie StewartPublished 3 years ago Updated 3 years ago 3 min read
Don't let them in!

Did you know the word halloween or more correctly hallowe'en is of Scottish origin? Contracted in Scots from All Hallows Eve, the name signifies the evening before All Saints Day. Trick or Treating may be a recent import from the US, but the tradition in Scotland is to go Guising or to dress up and go around the neighbourhood and collect coins or cakes in return for singing a song or doing a party trick.

As a kid I loved this time of year but it could sometimes be very wet or cold. Still, we would have a go - there was money and sweets to be had! I dressed one year as a Chinese mandarin (yes, I know, it was the 60's), our costumes were never elaborate, that one consisted of a crepe paper hat and a ruby red dressing gown. Cowboys, ghosts, and Bedouins were likewise popular. We usually went out in small groups and were never accompanied by adults! Innocent times.

Possibly remembering their own childhoods, Scottish singers and bands seem to have a taste for the dark and macabre in their tracks, even if they are tongue -in-cheek some of the time. Here are twenty of the best to build that Hallowe'en atmosphere. Please note that some of these tracks are not appropriate for a younger audience.

That tree has an evil eye!

We lead with Gerry Rafferty and Night Owl, a great sing-a-long track from the late 1970s. KT Tunstall is the first to give us the Evil Eye from her KIN collection. Eddi Reader slows things down with the romantic and Charmed-like Bell Book and Candle, and then Twin Atlantic quicken our blood again with the rocking You Are The Devil.

Travis have a perfect 'get me out of lockdown' song with A Ghost (you should check out the great cartoon video for that). Pilot are next with old 70s lovesong Magic. (Don't worry I avoided that other tartan-trousered gang - aren't I evil?) The Fratellis have many spooky songs on their We Need Medicine album but for this list I've chosen This Old Ghost Town. Annie Lennox may be an obvious choice with her Love Song For A Vampire but I almost plumped for her Walking on Broken Glass for its imagery.

The rousing Late March Death March by Frightened Rabbit sonically fits the theme even if the lyrics are about a personal crisis. The enigmatic Mr X by Ultravox suggests to me a ghost story or at least a haunting of some sort. (PS I love that Vienna album.) Another round of Evil Eye is delivered by Franz Ferdinand. This also has a fun video. Bad Bad Boy by Nazareth has an wicked narrator and is a great rock dance number. Go wild, kids!

Relatively unknown Sons and Daughters continue with the theme in Rebel With The Ghost. Here the singer hears someone rattling down a corridor. Is it a ghoul? Meanwhile Sukie in the Graveyard might seem a strange choice but then again, Belle and Sebastian have weird characters aplenty in their catalogue. Chvrches are also obsessed with death in many of their songs. We stay in the boneyard with Graves.

Deacon Blue are Haunted by memories in their atmospheric track. I love it when the leads duet like this. We briefly visit the days of sixties psychedelia in Donovan's Season of The Witch. If you are dancing, just remember not to leave anything personal behind on the dance-floor. Your party witches only need a dropped stitch or a loose hair to cast their spells with!

Simple Minds mention ghosts in several of their songs but I've chosen the stomping Ghostrider. We turn things romantic again with Sharleen Spiteri of Texas singing of a Black Eyed Boy. What kind of creature is he we wonder? And finally, The Sweet, who suddenly changed their image in the mid-70s from sweet to glam, the ultimate guising trick, round things off in this Scottish Halloween playlist with Hell Raiser. Enjoy, but be careful with that spell casting. You never know what you might raise from the dead!


About the Creator

Wilkie Stewart

Writer of strange little tales living in Glasgow, Scotland. A former IT professional who loves literary fiction, poetry, Eurovision, art-house film, post-crossing, and comics. Walks daily with his camera when he can. @werewegian1 on Twitter

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    Wilkie StewartWritten by Wilkie Stewart

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