Before we get started, an admission: I don’t get into Hallowe’en. Really never did. I never got into anything that required I knock on strangers’ doors and asked them for anything. That includes Hallowe’en and anytime I had to sell anything for school, and thank God there was only once that I had to do that. And costumes? Forget it.
But that’s just me. If it’s the highlight of your year, by all means, have a happy one.
Anyway, I had a little trouble putting this list together until I thought about that which really, really scared me, and it was this…
Not the symbol itself, although when it would pop up on TV when a station was running its EBS test, it would freak me out. But what it stood for in the mid-20th century USA: nuclear disaster. Granted, Civil Defense did a lot more than coordinate evacuations while ICBM’s from Russia were in the air, but that was the thing I associated with it.
Anyway, my playlist this week includes a few songs I generally associate with Hallowe’en, as well as a few spoken-word goodies that were recorded during the Cold War. The list of songs follows the video.
- Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett: I had to throw this in, although the one I really wanted was the one done by Boris Karloff himself. I know it’s out there somewhere…
- Experiment in Terror – Henry Mancini: Ominous-sounding music that once was the theme song for WGN’s Creature Features, their Saturday night screamfest.
- Civil Defense PSA – Boris Karloff: Not especially scary (he almost sounds like he’s reading a bedtime story), but the idea that your house might not survive a nuclear war made you sit up and take notice.
- I Put A Spell On You – Creedence Clearwater Revival: This song was a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ hit song, but I like this version better than the original.
- Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Öyster Cult: A somewhat ominous-sounding song that was popular in the mid-1970’s. It could really use more cowbell…
- Superstition – Beck, Bogert, and Appice: Evidently Stevie Wonder wrote the song for them, and they were going to release it as a single, but Stevie beat them to it. Too bad, because I like their vesion better.
- Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix: From his 1968 Electric Ladyland album, some fine blues playing. Here’s Buddy Guy’s impression of Jimi, in case you’re interested.
- Civil Defense Radio Recordings – WCCO, Minneapolis: Back in 1961, WCCO radio (830 kHz AM) had staff announcers Howard Viken and Dick Chapman record these announcements to be used in the event of a possible or actual nuclear attack. Probably a good idea to do them before they needed them, because I don’t know how calm things would be if they were trying to make these announcements live. At the end, there’s an announcement from Minnesota Governor Elmer L. Andersen (no one names their kid Elmer anymore, have you noticed?).
- CONELRAD Radio Alert – WBEN, Buffalo: An announcement that lets listeners know that WBEN (930 kHz AM) is leaving the air and to tune their radio receivers to 640 kc if they live in Erie County, and to 1240 kc if they live in Niagara County, for news and official information or instructions. The announcement is preceded by a 15-second 960 Hz tone, the standard for CONELRAD.
- Watching Joey Glow – Steve Goodman: The late Chicago-based folksinger included this on his last album, 1984’s Affordable Art. He died of leukemia in September of that year at the age of 36.
That’s the Hallowe’en edition of Monday’s Music Moves Me. Next week, movie theme songs! Join us then!