Thanks to all the DJs who participated in this list. And don't hesitate to add your own favorite (and truly) scary track in the comments!
"Crime Scene Part 1" by Afghan Whigs: From their best album "Black Love" this Whigs tune is the funereal march that opens a story about life, death, resurrection, murder, betrayal and more. So it's appropriately gritty and pretty by turns. The opening is a screeching symphonic mess that finally settles into a languid guitar line that perfectly complements Greg Dulli's hoarse-voiced revelations. The long, slow crescendo ends with Dulli screaming, "Do you think I'm evil?!" To which I say, "Yes, Greg, I do." Jason Robinson, "The Mixtape"
"The Beast" by Aphrodite's Child: "666" is such a great album, any track is somewhat scary; they're good compositions, played by great musicians, and most of the album is dark and eerie. Carlos, "Latin Hemispheres"
"Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus: Tops on my list as I always associate it with Halloween and the movie "The Hunger." Curt, "Music at Work"
"Halloween Theme" by John Carpenter: It's been 30 years, and still when I hear it I'm looking around for Michael Meyers. DJ Iceman, "Deep Krate Radio"
"I Want You" by Elvis Costello: The ever-obsessive Costello has never sounded more believably obsessed than on this song from the "Blood and Chocolate" album. Taking the most familiar pop line -- how many singers have sung "I want you" with so much naivete? -- it's almost too believable, and all the more chilling for it. You want the singer, his voice wrecked from his poisoned feelings, to stop, the guitarist to put down that twisted instrument, but they never do. The song just spirals further and further into the sex and soul-killed abyss. Roy Kasten, "Feel Like Going Home"
"Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin: There's been numerous versions of this Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht classic, but it's Bobby Darin's subtle, nonchalant lyrical delivery of horrendous murders, underscored by a suspense-driving big band, that makes this the best uncomfortably-psychotic party song out there. What an amazing singer. Nick Acquisto, "The Space Parlour"
"D.O.A." by Bloodrock.: The first time I heard "D.O.A." was back in the '80s, when it was already an oldie. I was out with friends when it came over the car radio, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing:
I try to move my arm and there's no feeling
And when I look, I see there's nothing there
The face beside me stopped bleeding
The girl I knew has such a distant stare
I swear, my blood ran cold and I was totally freaked out. The Normal ("Warm Leatherette") and the Smiths ("There Is a Light That Never Goes Out") had made car crashes sound so romantic! These dudes were totally harshing my mellow. And the backing music was suitably scary too. In retrospect, it seemed like a dry run for Metallica's "One," with vehicular irresponsibility subbing for war wounds.
It made such an impression on me that whenever I hear a car-crash song now, it automatically goes into a little file in my mind -- which also contains Couch Flambeau's "We'll Go through the Windshield Together" (which is darkly funny) and Robbie Fulks' "Night Accident" (which is not).
Halloween's never held much resonance for me, because it's all about pretending to be scared by things that don't exist. It's time we got real, people. Starting now, car wrecks are the new zombies. Are you with me? Seriously, go to a Halloween party as "guy impaled on steering column" and they will be talking about you all year. Darren Snow, "Rocket 88"
"Riders on the Storm" by the Doors: An obvious choice, I know. (I can hear you saying, "Gees, Keith! Why not just pick "D.O.A. by Bloodrock?") [Editor's note: Sorry, already spoken for!] The explicitly threatening lyrical content floats on top of a sinister musical groove that says, "The world is a dangerous place. There's menace in it, and it's coming for you." Keith Dudding, "Down Yonder"
"Rosemary's Baby" (Director's Cut) by Fantomas: The original horror movie theme was spooky enough, but Mike Patton's child-like intro makes the whole thing frightening. Not just that, but menacing too. Menace that turns on lights and listens to every floorboard in the dark just in case you need to call your mommy. Go ahead and call her. She can't help you. Nick Cowan, "Train of Thought"
"Mr. Ghost Goes to Town" by the Five Jones Boys: Here's a song that's haunting in its own non-threatening way. The song deals with the supernatural, to be sure, but the ghoul in question has his soul set on hearing some hot jazz. This 1937 recording by the Five Jones Boys sends chills via on-point harmonies and vocal sound effects. The tune has been covered by everyone from Louis Prima to the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, but the John Buzon Trio's organ and baritone sax version may be the funkiest. Christian Schaeffer, "Collector's Edition"
"The Long Black Veil" by Lefty Frizzell: The song, written by Marijohn Wilkin and Danny Dill, paints a spooky image of the main character's lover mourning him at his grave on a cold and windy night. Fred Gumaer, "Mid-Day Jamboree"
"Pretty Polly" by David Grisman and the Nashville Bluegrass Band: Ralph Stanley owns this traditional song, but there is a dark urgency to the version by David Grisman and the Nashville Bluegrass Band on Grisman's "Home Is Where the Heart Is." Boy-Kills-Girl songs are a staple of American folksong. "Pretty Polly" is a notch above the others in its almost cinematic telling of the story. The point of view shifts between Polly, the victim, and Little Willie, her killer. We witness her realization that he intends to kill her. Keith Dudding, "Down Yonder"
"Knoxville Girl" by the Louvin Brothers: Musically it sounds like a cheery little country tune, and then as you listen it is about some kid murdering his sweetheart. Hits her with a stick, knocks her down, she cries for mercy but he beats her more, lots of blood and then he flings her into the river…Alas…. Andrea, "Radio Rio"
"Don't Do Anything Illegal" by Charles Manson: His stab at a PSA? A seemingly innocent song from a psychopath. Creeeeeeeepy. Bobby Analog, "Smokestack Lightning"
"The Girl From Ipanema" by Mrs. Miller: Self-evident. Dr. Jeff, "The Big Bang"
"Shorty's Lament" by the Residents: This track from the mysterious San Francisco band of sorts, the Residents, has everything it takes to make a song truly unsettling. As a teenager, I'd listen to headphones in the dark while going to bed. This song -- with its the southern drawl, chorus, breaking glass and unusual sounds and arrangements -- would successfully pull the imagination into a hellacious, creepy place. Or at least put me on edge every time by the end of the six minutes. ("Simple Song" would be my second Residents pick.) Nick Acquisto, "The Space Parlour"
"Deal With the Devil" by Peter Rowan: This song is about a guy who gets an offer from the devil in trade for his soul. Walter and Willa, "Bluegrass Breakdown"
"Is It You" by Vic Ruggiero featuring Lisa Müller: There are seances, stalker-like time-travel and chain-dragging ghosts. But the scariest thing of all is falling out of love: "I'll visit you at the end of the season/Watch your eyes as you're breathing your last." JJ Loy, "Ska's the Limit"
"Die Eier von Satan" by Tool: A cookie recipe recited in German never sounded so evil. Curt, "Music at Work"
"Blood Makes Noise" by Suzanne Vega: I think the song is about trauma, fear and the inability to deal with it. Sara Finke, "Earthsongs"
"What's He Building in There?" by Tom Waits: Master of the character-driven song and chronicler of boozy heartbreak, Tom Waits knows how to serve up horror both subtle and loudly profane. "What's He Building in There" has the ambience of a horror film trailer, with timpani drums and squalls of electric noise, while the lyrics paint a picture of a murderous loner who forsakes everything to build something in his shed. Jason Robinson, "The Mixtape"
"Hell Broke Luce" by Tom Waits: This song is the opposite side of the coin with big, blustery, thudding instrumentation, heavy guitars and a chant-along verse. He tells the story here of a soldier, returning from the horrors of war, trying to make sense of life. Jason Robinson, "The Mixtape"
"The Raven" by Christopher Walken: This should be self-explanatory, right? It's Edgar Allan Poe read by Christopher Freaking Walken! This comes from a long out-of-print double disc called "Closed on Account of Rabies: Tales of Edgar Allan" where various musicians and actors take a turn with a different story. "The Raven" creeps out just a bit more than Iggy Pop reading "The Tell-Tale Heart." Nick Cowan, "Train of Thought"
"A Tale They Won't Believe" by Weddings Parties Anything: Front man Mick Thomas wrote this harrowing tail of a maniacal killer in our midst. WPA is no longer together, but the Melbourne-based celtic rockers are still wildly popular in their native Australia. Ed Becker, "Songwriters Showcase"
"Excitable Boy" by Warren Zevon: As if the subject matter of rape, murder and disinterment weren't enough, I learned in his ex-wife's biography of the late genius that he had indeed once "rubbed a pot roast all over his chest." Made me wonder: What else was autobiographical? Creepy. Chris Lawyer, "Hip City"