Songs That Go Bump In The Night

‘Tis the season to be frightened, and the Performing Arts Encyclopedia is full of ghastly tunes for the musical goblins in your life. We start with Jean Schwartz and William Jerome’s “The Ghost that Never Walked.” The team, best-known for the song “Chinatown my Chinatown,” put this 1904 number into the show “Piff! Paff! Pouf!” to tell the tale not of a haunting, but the sad failure of a “troupe from Peoria.” Listen to Billy Murray perform the song here.

Maybe the Irish tell better ghost stories: “Dooligan’s Ghost” (by Karst and Gibson, 1892) tells the cautionary tale of a man who emerged from the death-slab at his own wake, simply because he couldn’t stand to see his friends get drunk without him.  In another fin-de-siecle Irish ghost story, “The Haunted Spring” is visited by the specter of  “an enchanted lady [who] assumes the shape of a White Doe and lures hunters to Fairy Land.” Similarly, “The Haunted Stream,” in an unspecified far-away forest, is where a woman lures a “witless knight” to her underwater lair, “lined with gold.” Naturally.

Another spectral visitor was visited upon us in 1888 by the song-writing team of Arno Bley and the aptly named Edmund Mortimer. “The Dead Actress” “came’st in thy loveliness before us at night!” There is unlikely to be a 3-D movie in the works, but you never know.

Rounding out your dance card are piano arrangements for “Ghost’s Gallop” and “Goblin Galop.”  In a less scary vein, those kids who go out trick-or-treating as firefighters might vary the theme and dress up as “My Ragtime Fireman.”

(Thanks to Patricio Padua of the Library’s Collections and Services Division for this post!)


  1. Jennifer Harbster
    October 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you Pat and LC for uncovering these gems for the Halloween Season!!!

  2. Carolyn
    October 29, 2009 at 8:53 am

    What about Tam Pierce – sung by Burl Ives.

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