While some people dread this holiday, others (like myself) love it. It’s the chance to dress up in a fun costume and maybe spook some people if you are into that, but one of the reasons I love it is deep diving into the sinister lyrics hidden throughout country music.
We all know the genre is known for having some killer murder ballads (lousy pun…oops), but there are also just some downright creepy lyrics in the genre that are often overshadowed by putting a cheating husband in the ground. But don’t get me wrong, I love those too: Ashley McBryde’s “Martha Divine” will go down in my book as one of the best murder ballads around.
So sit back, relax, and discover ten of my favorite bone-chilling songs sung over the years.
“The Legend Of Wooley Swamp” by The Charlie Daniels Band
The track was written and recorded in 1980 by Daniels, playing off of the hit “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Daniels recalled a swamp in North Carolina that he used to hunt as a child. He was inspired to write the lyrics, remembering how different the marsh looked at night than it did during the day.
The tall tale of what lives in Wooley Swamp is reminiscent of a childhood sea monster, but no one but the narrator will ever know what lived in Wooley Swamp.
“That’d make a strong man die from fright There’s things that crawl and things that fly And things that creep around on the ground And they say the ghost of Lucius Clay gets up and it walks around.”
“The Ride” by David Allan Coe
David Allen Coe was an icon throughout the ’80s country movement. From “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” to “If This Is Just A Game,” he is known for his heartbreak twangers. But on his track “The Ride,” he tells a story of a ghost in the car with him one day.
The story recalls meeting the ghost of Hank Williams Sr., and while it was based on fiction, there are tales of weird things happening from the song, like the Opry house lights going out when Coe sang “Hank” while performing “The Ride.” Some mysterious magic surrounds this track.
“Then I noticed the stranger was ghost-white pale When he asked me for a light And I knew there was something strange about this ride.”
“The Dead Don’t Die” by Sturgill Simpson
Written for the motion picture The Dead Don’t Die, Sturgill did a number creating this track. Highlighting what the afterlife might look like, Sturgill sings that ghosts surround us.
“Never paying any mind To the silly lives we lead Or the reaping we’ve all sown There’s a cup of coffee waiting on every corner Someday we’re gonna wake up and find the corner’s gone.”
“Long Black Veil” by Johnny Cash
Initially recorded by Lefty Frizzell, “Long Black Veil” tells the chilling story of a man falsely accused of murder. The man took his secrets to the grave, literally, when he could have come clean about an affair he was having with his friend’s wife that would have proved he was not at the scene of the crime.
The woman often visited his grave wearing a long black veil after his death, and the song talks about those chilling visits.
“She walks these hills in a long black veil She visits my grave when the night winds wail Nobody knows, nobody sees Nobody knows but me.”
“The Devil In Us All” By Kat Hasty
Kat Hasty is one of the most poetic songwriters of this day. She is well throughout with her ideas and eloquently wraps them up in a melody that is addicting to your ears or haunting in this track’s case.
Hasty details how the Devil tries to infiltrate your life through day-to-day activities rather than through monumentally traumatizing events. If you listen to the words carefully, it’s very chilling.
“The Devil comes in the form of a friend He’ll pick you up just to kick you down again You won’t see it coming, you’ll swear it’s not true And your Mama will be the only one to warn you The Devil comes in the form of a friend.”
“Knoxville Girl” by The Louvin Brothers
This bluegrass ditty is such an underrated, spooky track. The Louvin Brothers detail meeting a girl while visiting the East Tennessee city and how things take a dark turn. I’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves on this one.
“I took her by her golden curls, and I drug her round and around Throwing her into the river that flows through Knoxville town Go down, go down, you Knoxville girl with the dark and rolling eyes Go down, go down, you Knoxville girl, you can never be my bride.”
“Kate McCannon” by Colter Wall
A murder ballad we all know and love. The theme discusses infidelity that led to a murder. The deep vocals of Wall make the haunting lyrics even more bone-chilling.
As a true classic, of course, it made this list.
“And he sings to me real low It’s hell to where you go For you did murder Kate McCannon.”
“Creepin'” by Eric Church
The Chief coming in hot on this list with his 2011 track “Creepin’.” The track highlights the creepy feeling of having someone watch you, and in this case, a lover who he can’t get off his mind, and now the narrator has to live with that haunting feeling.
The lyrics graphically describe the loneliness and the feelings of the ghost of her memory now being around. It’s spooky, for sure.
“You shot outta hell like a bullet from a gun, A flip of a switch, a thief on the run, And since the day you left me baby, I can feel the lonely, I can hear the crazy. Just a Creepin’ Creepin’ Just a Creepin’ Creepin'”
“This Haunted House” by Loretta Lynn
A fun fact about Loretta Lynn is that she was open about her ties to the paranormal. Her Tennessee mansion was the site of many strange instances that would make people believe it was haunted.
There were so many ties to the mansion that the Travel Channeleven detailed the spooky events that happened on the property. This house inspired this track, talking about just a few creepy and crawly things that occurred within the haunted house.
“This haunted house I’m living in is killing me And the ghost of your love won’t set me free Each morning finds me crying and alone In this haunted house, we used to call our home.”
“The Gravedigger” by Willie Nelson
We are rounding out this list with a classic from The Redheaded Stranger. The creepy track is told from the point of view of a gravedigger and how he has seen people pass over the years. The chilling repetitiveness from the chorus of the souls asking the gravedigger to keep the burial site shallow so they can feel the rain is spooky.
Even with the chilling undertone, this track is beautifully done, and the calming vocals from Willie Nelson make the track sound more comforting than it truly is.
“Muriel Stonewall 1903 to 1954 She lost both of her babies in the second great war Now, you should never have to watch your only children lowered in the ground that means you should never have to bury your own babies.”