Every now and then you may hear a crazy little song on the radio with songs about ghosts. These songs are catchy and some hold you spellbound till the end with a haunting voice and spooky music.
Here are 21 ghost songs that we thought were cool with their stories:
1. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” – Gordon Lightfoot
On November 10, 1975, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank to the bottom of Lake Superior during a horrific storm. The story is told that it is a ghost ship and when it was found, there was no one operating the boat. It was just sailing along. It is said the ship was not supposed to run, but the companies and the captain said otherwise, bringing it to its demise.
Many tales derived from the freighter, and Gordon Lightfoot took the story and tales about the boat and wrote a song about it that did pretty well in the charts. The story and the music are quite eerie. To this day, people still claim to see the spirit of a captainless boat sailing on the waters of The Great Lakes, but is it only speculation, or are the apparitions real? Who knows?
2. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” – Johnny Cash
This hit song has been around for a while and was written in 1948. It was written by Stan Jones and is about a group of cowboys who are being chased by the Devil. The song talks about how the riders are trying to outrun Satan and get to heaven.
It is a great story with fantastic music, and Johnny Cash did an excellent job performing it. It was a song that was covered over several decades, but Johnny Cash had the voice to leave you in chills.
3. “Pet Sematary” – Ramones
“Pet Sematary” was written in 1989 and is based on the Stephen King book of the same name. The story is about a cemetery where animals are buried, and they come back to life.
It is a scary story, and the Ramones did an excellent job at making it into a creepy song. Fans of Stephen King love the song and it is a perfect song to play around Halloween with the ghosts of animals haunting people.
4. “Midnight in Montgomery” – Alan Jackson
“Midnight in Montgomery” is a bit different from the others as it was written as a tribute song but tells of how the spirit of Hank Williams has haunted others, including the songwriter who senses and feels Hank’s presence and sees his spirit. The song is about Hank Williams Sr. and how he died in the back of his car on New Year’s Day in 1953.
The story goes that Hank’s ghost visited Alan Jackson at a midnight show in Montgomery, Alabama. The story and the song are both beautiful, and Alan Jackson did an excellent job attributing it to Hank Williams Sr. Between Alan Jackson’s haunting vocals and the sound of the steel guitar, you can almost feel yourself standing at Hank’s grave. If you close your eyes, you can even see him standing there.
5. “O Death” – Jen Titus
“O Death” was featured on the television show Supernatural and became a hit. It is a hauntingly beautiful song with lyrics that will send chills down your spine. The story behind the song is about a woman who is facing death and is trying to bargain her way out of it and not become a ghost herself.
It is a powerful song and Death is a ghost. Jen Titus did an excellent job with the lyrics and vocals. The song has been covered by many artists, but Jen Titus’s version is the best.
6. “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” – Lead Belly
Lead Belly’s song was written in the 1920s and was based on a folktale called “The House Carpenter.” The tale is about a murder by a scorned lover and being haunted by a ghost can be interpreted from the song.
Lead Belly did an excellent job at writing the song, and it has been covered by many artists over the years. The song is eerie and will send chills down your spine.
Nirvana did a remake of it on their MTV Unplugged performance in the 90s, as Lead Belly was noted as one of Kurt Cobain’s favorite artists. Since his suicide in 1994, his voice still leaves a chill for all who listen.
7. “I Put a Spell on You” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
This song was written in 1956 and is about a man who is in love with a woman and wants to keep her for himself. He puts a spell on her so she will never leave him, even beyond death. The song is catchy, but the story is a bit dark.
It has been covered by many artists over the years, but Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’s version is the best. The song is spooky and it may make you want to put a spell on someone you love.
8. “Ghost Town” – The Specials
“Ghost Town” was written in 1981 and is about how hard times have fallen on a town and how the ghosts of the people who used to live there still haunt it. The song is catchy and has a great message.
The Specials did an excellent job with the song, and it is one of their most popular songs. The song is spooky and will make you think about the ghosts of the past.
9. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
This song was written in 1985 and is about a man who throws a party for his dead friends. The party is a bit macabre, but the song is upbeat and fun. It is a popular song by Oingo Boingo and is perfect for Halloween parties.
The story behind the song is a bit morbid when you think about it, but the song is a lot of fun.
10. “Long Black Veil” – John Anderson
The original “Long Black Veil” was written in 1959 and is about a man who is on death row for a crime he did not commit. He is visited by the ghost of his former lover who he left at the altar. The woman is pregnant with his child, and she tells him that she has forgiven him and wants him to know that she will always love him. It is said her ghost still walks the shoreline with a long black veil covering her face.
The song is haunting and beautiful. John Anderson did an excellent job with the song, and it is one of his most popular songs.
11. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” – Bruce Springsteen
This freaky song was written in 1995 and is about the ghosts of the people who died during the Great Depression. The song is based on the novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
The song is haunting and beautiful, and Bruce Springsteen did an excellent job with it. The song is perfect for Halloween parties or anytime you want to listen to a spooky song.
12. “Don’t Fear The Reaper” – Blue Oyster Cult
This hit was written in 1976 and is about death. It is said that the band members were all fans of horror movies, and that is where they got the idea for the song.
The music is catchy and has a great message. Blue Oyster Cult did an excellent job with the song, and it is one of their most popular songs. It makes a great Halloween party song or any get-together where ghosts and goblins exist.
13. “Ghosts” – Stevie Nicks
This song was written in 1989 and is about the ghosts of her past. The song is beautiful and haunting, and Stevie Nicks did an excellent job with it. The song is perfect for Halloween parties or anytime you feel the need to be spooked.
14. “Steven” – Alice Cooper
This ghost story turned into a song was written in 1983 and is about a man who is haunted by the ghost of his brother. The song is eerie and will send chills down your spine. Alice Cooper did an excellent job, since he is a bit creepy himself. Many people still remember the song and still play it at a good classic rock party.
15. “Ghost” – Halsey
This song was written in 2017 and is about a woman who is haunted by the ghost of her former lover. The song is haunting and beautiful, and Halsey did an excellent job with it. The song is perfect for scary background parties or underground parties when you want to keep the crowd in scary mode.
16. “The Ghost of You” – My Chemical Romance
“The Ghost of You” was written in 2004 and is about a man who is haunted by the ghost of his dead girlfriend. The song is catchy and will make you think about the ghosts of your past. My Chemical Romance did a perfect job with the song, and it is one of their biggest hits.
17. “The Ghost Song” – The Doors
This song was written in 1968 and is about a man who is visited by the ghost of his dead brother. The song is eerie and will send chills down your spine. The Doors did an excellent job with the song, and it is one of their most popular songs.
Since Jim Morrison’s death, this song really seems to have come out of the grave. Perhaps the singer is as much of a ghost as the dead brother haunting the music scene. Morrison was always a mesmerizing performer and could claim the right to any song and drag you into his dark spirit.
19. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
This popular song was written in 1984 and is about the Ghostbusters movie where four guys team up to zap and capture the ghosts that were let loose in the city. The song is catchy and will make you want to bust some ghosts. Ray Parker Jr. did an excellent job with the song for the famous soundtrack, and it is one of his most popular songs still dancing around in people’s heads. We still sing it today when older movies come on television.
More recently, a remake of the movie was completed and the tune is still heard today. Many of the older movies are finding their way back to the screens in remakes and some of these soundtracks are as famous now as they were back then. We appreciated this classic track being brought back to the forefront of our minds with the newer Ghostbusters movie.
20. “The Ghost in You” – The Psychedelic Furs
“The Ghost in You” was written in 1984 and is about a man who is haunted by the ghost of his dead girlfriend. The song is catchy and will make you think about the ghosts of your past. The Psychedelic Furs recorded this song and it was noted as one of the greatest songs about ghosts.
21. “Old Ghosts” – Jethro Tull
“Old Ghosts” was written in 1980 and is about the ghosts of Jethro Tull’s past. The song is beautiful and haunting, and Jethro Tull did an excellent job with it. Sometimes the spirits of the past are those most difficult to let go. When an artist writes about their past, they refer back to the ghost as a transparent vision or dream they once lived.
No one else can live or feel the lyrics like those who endure someone or something like that in the moment. If you have experienced these songs, then you felt them somewhere before, making it more valuable to find out who you are. That is where the real haunting takes place in our mind’s eye.
Ghost stories are always popular around Halloween time, but these songs offer a great way to get into the spirit all year long. Whether you are looking for a catchy tune or something a little more haunting, there is sure to be a song on this list that will suit your needs.
So put on your favorite ghost story and enjoy these 21 songs about ghosts and the stories behind them. Fans of these artists love a good story and feel a little freaked out every now and then. Let the words, vocals, and music take you into another dimension while you slip away into the supernatural.
As the Head Editor at Music Grotto, Liam edits content produced from over 30 professional music/media journalists and contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.