In our candy bowl of Live365 Halloween content, we've already served you some sweet 80s and 90s tunes to blast on Halloween. Now its time to throw it back to the 70s! This decade is known for having lots of funk, soul, and classic rock hits. Appropriately, the Halloween bops this decade is known for have the same vibe.
We've got a lot of great artists included on this particular list. From AC/DC to the Eagles, an early Kate Bush track, a beloved country classic, and even some movie tunes, you'll definitely find a track on here that appeals to your monstrous side. Let's travel back half a century ago and listen to the spookiest songs of the 70s!
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" - Blue Öyster Cult
Whether you laugh at this song due to that cowbell SNL sketch or picture that bloody scene from X whenever this track plays, you've got to admit "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult is a far-from-grim-sounding song that'll take your breath away. (See those death puns we just made there?) This 1976 hit’s meaning led to great discussions by fans when it was first released. The song is seemingly written with thoughts of the inevitability of death on the lyricist’s mind, but he insisted the theme was actually eternal love. Rolling Stone named it “the song of the year” in 1976, although it only reached #12 on the charts.
"Highway to Hell" - AC/DC
One of the best Halloween rock songs! "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC is nothing short of badass. In this companion piece to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven," Bon Scott sings about how his life is a wild ride comparable to a highway to Hell (in a bit of tragic irony, he died by drinking himself to death a year after the album’s release). Released as the first single off the similarly-titled album, it is one of AC/DC’s most beloved and famous tracks. It has been played at almost all of their live shows since its release.
"The Time Warp" - Rocky Horror Picture Show
We've been putting lots of Rocky Horror Picture Show on our lists this year, and once again we're promoting "The Time Warp." Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in 1975 and this frightening-yet-fun dance track is the most beloved song to come out of it. Give yourself over to absolute pleasure: dance the time warp with Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia and do it over and over again!
"Werewolves of London" - Warren Zevon
A staple of most Halloween playlists, "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon is a howling good time. The 1977 song was a fitting representation of Zevon’s macabre outlook on life, as expressed in many of his other songs. Although some say it's really a metaphor for gigolos, cougar ladies, and their interactions. The song was done as a joke, written in 15 minutes as they were watching B Horror Movies. Warren was never a fan of the pop song, and didn’t want it on the album – so it's fitting that this is Warren’s only Top 40 hit!
"Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads
You may have heard this track on the latest season of Stranger Things! "Psycho Killer" by the Talking Heads is a Halloween classic. From the 1977 album Talking Heads: 77, it's possibly the most well-known Talking Heads song besides "Once In a Lifetime." Despite being hailed as a killer track (another pun, we're sorry), it only reached #99 on the Billboard singles chart when it was first dropped. The song was inspired by the character Norman Bates in the movie Psycho, and puts the listener into the singer's twisted mind. It's anxiety-inducing, intense, and "fa-fa-fa-fa" fantastic.
"Black Magic Woman" - Santana
Get ready for one of many 70s songs on this list about women, witches, and magic! "Black Magic Woman" by Santana was released in 1970. The song was actually written by Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac in 1968, and it was made famous by Santana in 1971, combined as a medley with “Gypsy Queen.” He included it on his album Abraxas. With smooth guitar riffs and a steady bongo beat, you'll be enchanted by this masterpiece.
"The Witch Queen of New Orleans" - Redbone
Have you ever heard a song about a witch as groovy as this one? A spellbinding sensation, "The Witch Queen of New Orleans" was written by the two Native American brothers of Redbone, Lolly and Pat Vegas, about 19th-century voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau. She staged ceremonies in which participants became possessed by loas (Voodoo spirits) and was considered the “Voodoo Queen” of New Orleans. Appropriately, the song combines influences of News Orleans R&B and swamp pop. The single was included on the band's record Message from a Drum and peaked at #2 on the UK Single chart and #21 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
"Superstition" - Stevie Wonder
No 1970s list is complete without some Stevie Wonder! Arguably his biggest commercial success, "Superstition" is a funky track about the eerie coincidences and curses of life. The track's release was a pivotal shift not only in Wonder’s career, but also in popular Black music. The song in some ways represents the end of the Civil Rights Movement and the “sound of integration” Motown provided. As the Black Power Movement gained steam, soul and funk music became the predominate form of Black musical expression, and “Superstition” represents the beginning of that shift. “Superstition” is Stevie Wonder’s lead single from his fifteenth album Talking Book and topped the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard’s Hot Soul Singles chart in January of 1973.
"Witchy Woman" - Eagles
A classic rock song that is nothing short of magic. "Witchy Woman" was written by Don Henly and Bernie Leadon and released on August 1, 1972 as the Eagles' second single from their debut album. Don Henly wrote most of the lyrics to this song while he had the flu and was allegedly semi-delirious. "Every time the fever subsided, I would continue to read a new book I’d gotten on the life of Zelda Fitzgerald, and I think that figured into the mix somehow – along with amorphous images of girls I had met at the Whisky and the Troubadour," Henly once said about the song. "An important song for me, because it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career. It went to #9 in the charts."
"Runnin' with the Devil" - Van Halen
Like "Highway to Hell," this is another demonic Halloween rock jam from Van Halen. It is the opening track from the band's self-titled debut album. It was also their second single. Fun fact: the car-horn opening is actually a sample comprised of each band member’s own vehicle connected to a footswitch. Ted Templeman slowed the audio down, and faded it in at the beginning. The intro would also be used on the demo version of the song “House of Pain.”
"Devil Woman" - Cliff Richard
Okay, so we have yet another track about the devil. (And still more to go!) 70s Halloween songs all seemed to have similar themes, huh? Anyway, from the 1976 album I'm Nearly Famous, "Devil Woman" is Cliff Richard's most well-known track. Grand and rockin', it tells the story of Cliff being seduced by a psychic woman. There are black cats, crystal balls, palm reading, and potions involved.
"Hammer Horror" - Kate Bush
Kate Bush is all the rage these days. Our personal favorite Halloween-esque track from her would probably be "Waking the Witch," but since this is a 70s list, we have to travel a bit farther back in her discography. Thankfully, she also has the theatrical and poppy "Hammer Horror" to her name. It was released as the lead single of her second album Lionheart in 1978. Like all Kate Bush songs, this tune has a unique narrative. It tells the story of an actor who gets thrust into the lead role of The Hunchback of Notre Dame after the original actor dies in an accident on the film set. He is guilt-ridden and ends up being haunted by the ghost of the jealous original actor, who was a former friend.
"Dark Lady" - Cher
The title track to Cher’s 11th album, "Dark Lady" was written by Johnny Durrill, keyboard player for instrumental rock band The Ventures, and produced by Snuff Garrett. In the song, a fortune teller tells the narrator that her lover’s been unfaithful to her. The narrator ends up catching her lover with the fortune teller (scandalous!) and kills both of them in a fit of rage. We're not sure if this song did so well because of the story, the fabulous music production, or because of Cher's vocal chops, but “Dark Lady” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a week in March 1974 and peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. It was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA.
"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - Charlie Daniels
This one's for the country folks! Maybe the most fun song about the devil ever written, "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is the biggest hit by Charlie Daniels. The song’s verses are closer to being spoken rather than sung, and they tell the story of a boy named Johnny, in a variant on the classic deal with the Devil. The performances of Satan and Johnny are played as instrumental bridges. Johnny's playing is pristine and neat while the devil's is wild and accompanied by a funky band of demons. The song was the band’s biggest pop hit, reaching #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Evil Woman" - Electric Light Orchestra
Our last 70s song about a suspicious woman, we swear! This Electric Light Orchestra song may just be about – well, an evil woman. But the lyrics do fit the haunted tone of Halloween, and let's admit it: this bop is just too cool to exclude from our list! There's a crazy origin story to this track. After the band finished Face The Music, Jeff Lynne concluded there was no good single on the album. According to an interview with Rolling Stone, "Evil Woman" was consequentially written because of his opinion and was the quickest song he ever penned (it took him about 30 minutes) with the first three chords coming to him instantly. He included a tribute to the Beatles with the line “There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in,” which references the song “Fixing A Hole.”
"Halloween" - John Carpenter
Last but not least, the best horror movie song ever! Scary but earwormy, this theme is written in the rare 5/4 time signature. Director John Carpenter composed the simple, chilling music as it was the first thing his father had taught him how to play on a piano. But the "Halloween" theme wasn't played on a piano: it was actually performed on a synthesizer organ! This instrumental choice it what makes the Halloween score sound so deep and dark.
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