IN TUNE WITH DEATH: 10 deathly serenades

1. Buried in Water – Dead Mans Bones

Most of the Dead Mans Bones album would suffice but there is something about the composition between Gosling’s lullaby croon, whistling and the Blakean children’s chorus that sends uncanny shivers down my spine. It’s the moment when innocence meets experience. Where the child dreamer meets the grim reaper. It instantly bestows one with a death fetish, mainly because it’s a sexy man crooning about death. It reminds me of this scene from the offbeat creepy 1950s film Night of the Hunter. It is achingly morbid and induces those pleasurable spine tingles.
Have a listen here:

2. There is a Light that Never Goes Out – The Smiths

Love is inseparable from death, they are entwined lovers. Think about it … the greatest love stories involve death: Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Orpheus and Eurydice; of course these deaths involve romanticized death/fetish objects such as the knife, poison and water. Yet, The Smiths somehow make being hit by a “ten-ton truck” sexy.

Have a listen here: 

3. Seven Devils – Florence + The Machine

This is a song to go insane to. The lyrics:
“See I was dead when I woke up this morning 
I’ll be dead before the day is done,”  
give me the jeepers creepers. The repetitive melody is claustrophobic, gothic and brooding. I imagine myself as Alice on acid in a straight jacket, in a white room chocking with candles, getting smaller and smaller and smaller, while I’m screammmmmmmmmmmmmmming.

Have a listen:

4. O Death – Ralph Stanley

A quintessential lament to death. I think of a gnarled sun beaten figure almost inseparable from the landscape, waiting in the deep South, imploring death on his horse to spare him. The figure would be a bit like one of the tragic characters from Waiting for Godot.

Have a listen: 

5. The Lady of Shallot – Loreena McKennitt 

The Lady of Shallot – the ballad, the myth, the painting have always fascinated me and Loreena McKennitt’s version of the song based on the ballad by Lord Alfred Tennyson has always been my favourite. It reminds me of the dear childhood pastime of storytelling. I won’t ruin the story incase one hasn’t heard it before but I will say the song includes: Arthurian romanticism, female sexuality and death.

Have a listen:

6. Gallows – Cocorosie

The masters of creep folk, sisters Bianca and Sierra spin poesque tales to whimsical lullabies and create one hell of the creepy song. I won’t keep you hanging, listen now:

7. Death Rides a Horse –
Ennio Morricone 

From the spaghetti western Da Uomo A Uomo but made infamous in Quentin Tarintino’s Kill Bill: Volume I. If I ever were chased by the 4 horses of the apocalypse this would be my soundtrack.


8. Untitled 1 –
Sigur Ros

This song evokes death to me for the following reasons:
I have always associated the letter s with death, because of its slow, perishing whistle of a sound. The song conjures an image of a tired cowboy by the fire, belonging to a mythological world which has to perish. A long sigh before death.

9. Carmen –
Lana Del Rey

Named after Bizet’s opera Carmen, about a wild-spirited gypsy murdered by her lover. Lana’s Carmen differs however, she is dying by the hands of another lover – Meth. A deathly droning voice accompanied by a video – a montage of Americana, super 8 home videos and meth warnings, crowns Lana the pop princess of Americana Unease.

10. Ghost of Love –
David Lynch

The distorted phantom echoes of Lynch’s voice projecting the uncanny ghosts of once upon a time.  Be sure to watch Inland Empire.

Death Ballads and folk songs

Here is a list + links for my favourite death ballads and folk songs from around the world.

1. Omie Wise – Doc Watson

2. Lady Margaret – Cassie Franklin

3. She Moved Through The Fair – Anne Briggs

4. Matty Groves – Alela Diane & Alina Hardin

5. Barbara Allen – Joan Baez

6. El Jinete – Jose Alfredo Jimenez

Yours Invisibly,
Anyones Ghost


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