Every Friday night we smooth our way into the weekend with music, the universal language. These selections demonstrate that despite what is being passed off as art today, there is plenty of really good music available. Come along and enjoy.
There’s lots of great Halloween music. And I’m not just talking “Purple People Eater.” Turn down your lights. Sit back. Relax. This is Halloween.
Let’s get started with music from a longer collection of pieces telling a tale of the life of a young man called Peer Gynt. The music was composed to accompany a scene where Peer is out in the forest and encounters a woman in green. They ride together on the back of a huge pig into a dark cave, which is the home of the troll king. Once inside, Peter is tormented and taunted by trolls who are trying to kill him. Peer manages to escape. The music tells the story.
Music Director Thomas Dausgaard and the Seattle Symphony perform “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 by Edvard Grieg at Benaroya Hall.
I think you’ll recognize.
Suites from the play Peer Gynt are among the most played orchestral pieces in our time. Composer Grieg got bad grades in school because all he cared about was music. He would later marry his cousin Nina.
During a stay in Leipzig, Germany, Grieg, not even 20 years old, developed pleuritt, a kind of tuberculosis, that troubled him for the rest of his life. His left lung collapsed, which made his back bend, and greatly reduced his lung-capacity. He died at the age of 67.
If the Beatles were the clean-cut boys then the Rolling Stones were the bad boys. Cementing the Stones’ image was their recording of “Sympathy for the Devil.” Lead singer Mick Jagger swears the song was about the dark side of man and not an homage to Satan.
On one of their first albums jazz rock band “Blood, Sweat and Tears” did a cover version. Here’s a clip of the ending.
Now, take away the horns and the rock instruments, replace with strings and you get…
Keith Richards of the Stones said “‘Sympathy’ is quite an uplifting song. It’s just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He’s there all the time.”
On December 6, 1969, as the Stones played their song at their Altamont Speedway concert, the crowd started to get disorderly. During the very next song, “Under My Thumb,” a fan was stabbed to death by members of the Hells Angels who had been hired to work as security. In the audience was rock guitarist Carlos Santana.
“I don’t have no sympathy for the devil,” Santana said. “I like the beat of the song but I never identify with the lyric. Jagger and Richards don’t really know the full extent of what they’re talking about. If they knew what they were getting into when they sing that song they would not be doing it. The devil is not Santa Claus. He’s for real.”
After 1970 the Stones stopped performing “Sympathy for the Devil” in concert.
Who does the very best Halloween music? That’s easy. Midnight Syndicate.
For two decades, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been known as Midnight Syndicate, creating symphonic soundtracks to imaginary films that facilitate a transcendental and adventurous escape into the secret dimensions of the mind’s eye. To many of their fans, they are Gothic music pioneers brewing a signature blend of orchestral horror music and movie-style sound effects. To others, they remain the first “haunted house band” that forever changed the Halloween music genre and became a staple of the October holiday season. And some know them as the duo that created the first official soundtrack to the legendary Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game.
The truth is the classic Monsters featured above and their popularity with moviegoers saved the studio, struggling at the time, enabling Universal to explode in growth.
Some sad news this Halloween. For the first time in nearly six decades, the Charlie Brown holiday specials will not be broadcast on television. Instead, the Peanuts are heading to Apple TV+ that made with Peanuts Worldwide and Lee Mendelson Film Productions to stream the specials, including “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966). The Halloween special will be available for free from October 30 until November 1.
Shall we dance?
Bonnie Stiernberg, a senior editor at InsideHook writes:
“There’s no warm-and-fuzzy resolution about the true meaning of the holiday, no feel-good moments where the gang all wave their tiny hands around a dopey-looking tree to magically adorn it with beauty. It’s a mediation on faith, but no matter how long he waits or how deeply he believes, Linus’s unwavering devotion goes unrewarded; the Great Pumpkin never shows up. Charlie Brown gets that football yanked out from under him from Lucy for the umpteenth time, and when he goes trick-or-treating, all he gets is a bunch of rocks. The Great Pumpkin soundtrack reminds us that all we can do is press on and hope for the best.”
That’s it for this week.
Have a great weekend.
And remember the final line read by Orson Welles in the famous radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”
“That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian. . .it’s Halloween.”
“Mannheim Steamroller” is the #1 Christmas music artist of all times, selling over 31 million albums. They also did some Halloween music many years ago.