St. Vincent’s DeJamz


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The Civil Wars performing in 2012.

Spooky season is in full swing, so it makes sense that my playlist is skewing slightly more morose. In my experience, Halloween tends to be more fun in theory than in practice, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some spooky jams! My definition of “spooky” tends to be a bit more open-ended, so don’t count on seeing the Monster Mash here.


Halloween- Phoebe Bridgers

Most of Phoebe Bridgers’ discography could be described as “spooky,” but this track seemed like the most fitting choice. While not explicitly about anything scary, the concept of a toxic relationship is certainly enough to unsettle me. Featuring personal lyrics and a guest appearance from Conor Oberst (suspicious), this song is as beautiful as it is upsetting.


Barton Hollow- The Civil Wars

I often find myself upset that The Civil Wars disbanded, since they were such an electric duo. The titular track off their 2011 album, this song spins the tale of a couple on the run for an unspecified crime; my guess is murder. This track boasts excellent vocals, great country-rock instrumentation and an overall vibe that trouble awaits. Perfect for Halloween. 


Season of the Witch- Donovan

This is something of an obvious choice, but this song has endured for decades for a reason. While I considered listing Lana Del Rey’s recent cover, the vocals and overall feeling of the song sound more immersive. The song gradually becomes more chaotic as it proceeds, creating a supremely unsettling feel.


Where Did You Sleep Last Night- Nirvana

If you haven’t watched the 1994 performance of this song, stop what you’re doing and right that wrong. A highlight off of Nirvana’s unplugged album, this cover is truly timeless. While starting off in a subdued, understated setting, the song jumps to an 11 with Kurt Cobain wailing out the last chorus. Even if you’re not a fan of Appalachian murder ballads, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.


In the Evening- Led Zeppelin

I often associate this song with Sharp Objects, the excellent 2018 murder-mystery miniseries. If you know, you know. While ostensibly about an alluring, troublesome woman — typical Zeppelin fare — I’ve always read this song as being slightly more sinister. The unintelligible vocals and driving production create a sense of heightened urgency and always leaves me wondering what the hell they’re talking about. Nothing is scarier than the unknown.