Ghosts are an unknown phenomenon. Many people believe in them. Whilst they may not appear as a translucent image, specters of the past are all around us. The topic of ghosts and death is a great inspiration for songwriting. There are many tunes written about these haunting topics.

Whether you’re dressing up as a phantom, zombie, ghost or ghoul this Halloween, there’s a perfect soundtrack for you. Now, let’s take a look at the best songs about ghosts.

1. Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Ray Parker Jr. - Ghostbusters

The soundtrack to one of the most classic movies of all time, this 1984 song is about as ghostly as it gets. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a team of Ghostbusters – people who catch ghosts who have escaped and are tormenting the city.

Ghostbusters!

If there’s something strange

In your neighborhood

Who you gonna call?

Ghostbusters!”

It’s a catchy tune that’ll have you wanting to go out and bust a few ghosts. One of his most popular songs is still bouncing around in people’s brains because of Ray Parker Jr.’s superb work on the soundtrack.

The movie’s theme music is still heard today after a new version of the film was finished. In several of these remakes, some of these soundtracks are as popular now as they were when they were first released. We were glad that the new Ghostbusters film brought this timeless tune back to our attention.

2. Ghost Town – The Specials

The Specials - Ghost Town [Official HD Remastered Video]

“Ghost Community” was written in 1981 and depicts a town that has fallen on bad times and how the spirits of the people who formerly lived there continue to haunt it. It has an iconic spooky organ riff that opens the track, which has been sampled and remixed countless times.

It’s a classic reggae/ska song with a terrific message, and it’s easy to sing along to.

As a result, it has become one of the Specials’ most well-known songs. If you’re afraid of ghosts, you’ll like this frightening tune. It’s full of haunting sounds and is the perfect track for a Halloween party.

3. Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash - Ghost Riders In The Sky (Live - 1987)

It’s been a long time since this song was composed in 1948, yet it’s still one of the best songs about ghosts and evil ever written.

The song warns the cowboy that if he doesn’t change his ways, then he’ll be condemned to forever chase the devil’s herd in the sky.

As a tale and as a piece of music, it is a wonderful combination. It’s a song that’s been covered a lot over the years, but nothing beats Johnny Cash’s version.

4. Where did you sleep last night – Lead Belly

Leadbelly - Where Did you Sleep Last Night

Lead Belly’s song was composed in the 1920s and is based on a folktale. Lead Belly wrote the song which many other performers have covered afterward. It’s a haunting piece of music that will make you shiver.

You can learn the story’s central theme of haunting from the song – a murder committed by an unforgiving ex-lover.

Lead Belly was a favorite of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. Thus, the band covered it during an MTV Unplugged appearance in the 1990s. Since his death by suicide in 1994, the sound of his voice has continued to spook all who hear it.

5. Ghosts – Stevie Nicks

Her history haunts her in this song, which she wrote in 1989. Stevie Nicks’ rendition of the song is stunning and mesmerizing. It has the classic feeling of the 80s although the production still lives up today. This is a great choice for a spooky, mysterious mood, and is the perfect soundtrack for a retro Halloween party, or even just listening alone late at night.

6. The Ghost of You – My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance - The Ghost Of You [Official Music Video]

This song by emo rockers My Chemical Romance was released in 2004. It’s about a guy plagued by the ghost of his deceased fiancée. If you’ve ever been haunted by memories of the past, this is a great song to relive those emotions. At the time this was one of their most popular songs, and it still gets a lot of plays today.

7. Ghost Song – The Doors

The Doors - Ghost Song (Music Video)

In the story of this song, a guy is visited by the spirit of his deceased brother. It was composed in 1968 by frontman Jim Morrison of The Doors. It’s a haunting piece of music that will make you shiver. This is one of the Doors’ most well-known songs. Unsurprising given the catchy and deep arrangement.

Jim Morrison died, and now this song has risen from the dead.  You could say that the singer’s deceased sibling is as much of a ghost as Jim is now, whose words live on beyond his death. His live performances were always spellbinding, and you could always count on Morrison to sing with his full heart and spirit.

Jim Morrison’s grave is now a pilgrimage for Doors mega fans.

8. Give Up The Ghost – Radiohead

Radiohead - Give Up the Ghost (From the Basement)

Whilst we may never get an answer as to whether ghosts are real, this song is written from one’s perspective. It’s about how a ghost wants their loved ones back. He’s prepared to use violence to attract their attention – if it means he is not ignored anymore by his still-living relatives.

The lyrics of this song were partially inspired by an interview with Jeremy Dyson, the creator of The League of Gentlemen.  In the lyrics of this song at least two characters express hearing sounds and seeing ethereal bloodstains on the floor.

When they return to check the strange sounds, they find that the furniture has been crushed to pieces. When they return to the outer world, everything has been restored to its previous state. Thom Yorke was so inspired by this story he turned it into a song.

9. American Ghost Dance – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Red Hot Chili Peppers - American Ghost Dance (Vienna 2011) MULTICAM

It’s a spooky tune even if there is no genuine ghost in it. It’s about the spirit of Native Americans who were forced out of their lands by European settlers and became extinct as a result.

Even though most people believe they’re gone for good, the lyrics suggest that they will rise again. Because lead singer Anthony Kiedis had never been to any Native American reservations before creating this song, he is included in this group. He had only known what he had read, rather than experiencing it himself.

10. Thriller – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Thriller (Official Video)

On his album “Thriller,” Michael Jackson released this Halloween-themed tune.

A cult favorite, the music video was the first to use a horror theme. It’s a dark and foreboding night in the song, and you know something bad is about to happen. It plays heavily on spooky horror tropes of the era.

The rain, thunder, and footfall are used to create an ominous atmosphere in the song. This makes it a perfectly creepy but lighthearted soundtrack.

11. Ghosts – Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Ghosts (Official Video - Shortened Version)

Another haunting track by the king of pop. There is a ghost in the song who has been linked to someone they once loved. These folks, on the other hand, don’t pass on after death, but rather stay around to touch or breathe but don’t speak a word.

Religious imagery, such as flaming pentagrams and churches, is prevalent in the video. Jackson wrote this song based on his own experiences and supernatural encounters with ghosts.

He says he had a glimpse of his future self when he was only four or five years old. He was singing this song to himself from the future. What a crazy story!

12. I Put A Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Screaming Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You (Audio)

This is another classic song from 1956. It’s about a guy who loves a lady and wants to keep her all to himself. To ensure that she would never leave him, he casts a spell on her. The music is catchy, however, the tale is a little dark and depressing. Not surprising, given the singer’s wild lifestyle.

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ rendition is one of the most popular renditions of this song throughout the years. Singing along to this might inspire you to attempt some kind of love spell yourself. It’s a hypnotizing beat for sure. While it isn’t strictly about ghosts it has all the occult and mysterious imagery you need.

13. O Death – Jen Titus

Jen Titus - O' Death Full song - supernatural

This song shot to fame after being played on the TV Show ‘Supernatural’. It has lyrics and a vibe that will send shivers down your spine.

It’s a dark story, it’s the narrative of a dying lady who makes a last-ditch effort to avoid becoming a ghost by negotiating her way out of this fatal pact.

It’s a haunting tune, and Death is a ghoulish presence. The writing and voice by Jen Titus were superb and conveyed the dark story perfectly. A wide range of musicians have covered this song but few come close to the level of grandeur presented in Jen Titus’s version.

14. Pet Sematary – Ramones

Ramones - Pet Sematary (Official Music Video)

The Stephen King novel called “Pet Sematary”  was the inspiration for this film. Although it was equally inspired by a film of the same name which was based on the book. The plot revolves around a cemetery where deceased animals are laid to rest and then resurrected by a supernatural force.

Punk band Ramones did a fantastic job of crystallizing this tune into a haunting story. The vibe of the track acts as the perfect vehicle for the disturbing narrative.

Naturally, this song is a favorite among Stephen King fans, and it’s a fitting choice for Halloween. When specters of animals frighten the living daylights out of humans, this is a great macabre accompaniment.

15. Misguided Ghosts – Paramore

Paramore - "Misguided Ghosts" (Live in San Diego 5-22-15)

Misguided Ghosts tells the story of a person’s struggle with remorse and suffering after committing a heinous crime. The lyrics are inspired by the band’s own depressing experiences from the past.

In 2009, Paramore released their self-titled album. Hayley Williams’ closest friend committed suicide when she was only 13 years old, and this song is a tribute to her.

She wrote this song because she felt sorry for his death since they hadn’t spoken at the time of his demise. The music video for the song has a ghostly feel. You can interpret a message that whilst everyone might have their heads down and ignore you, there are always people out there who feel the same things as you.

16. Watching You Without Me – Kate Bush

Watching You Without Me

The song tells the narrative of a shipwrecked lady who hasn’t yet realized she’s gone to the other side. It’s written in a historical style, following traditional poems and storytelling.

The ghost of a loved one returns to her house, but she is unable to converse with them. Since the words are left open-ended, everybody who hears the music may feel anything they want. The song can be interpreted to mean a whole load of different things. The ghostly narrative has several layers and is another example of why Kate Bush is known to be such a skilled songwriter.

Listeners can also interpret a narrative about a relationship that is on the verge of ending.

17. Ghost Behind My Eyes – Ozzy Osborne

Ghost Behind My Eyes

This is a creepy haunted house-themed song by Ozzy Osbourne. In the lyrics, he describes the ghost of a woman who visits him at night and enters his head when he goes to bed.

Osbourne depicts the haunted mansion he lives in with spiders and flames within a dungeon in dramatic detail with suggestions that the ghost is a long-lost lover.

The video and lyrics fall under Osborne’s classic goth styling.

18. Ghost of the Navigator – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden - Ghost of the Navigator (Rock in Rio)

This song was featured on the 2000 album “Brave New World” by Iron Maiden. The album is a reference to Aldous Huxley’s dystopian book of the same name. Endings are important to this song’s narrative. A ship at sea and a setting sun are used as metaphors for the band’s ideas on death. It follows the path souls take from life to the other side.

19. Ghosts of Cape Horn – Gordon Lightfoot

Gordon Lightfoot - Ghost of cape of horn

This song is about a haunting and mysterious story. The SS Edmund Fitzgerald ship sank in Lake Superior on November 10, 1975, following a devastating storm. It’s said to be a ghost ship since no one was aboard when it was discovered.

It was as though nothing had happened, it simply sank like a ghost. Companies and the ship’s captain reportedly said that the ship was not intended to operate, resulting in its demise.

There were many stories about the ship, and Gordon Lightfoot created a song based on the myths. The song fared well in the charts. There is a spooky vibe to the plot and music. A captainless boat’s ghostly apparition has been reported on the Great Lakes for years, but are these sightings just stories, or are they real? OoOOoOOo!

20. Ghosttown – Madonna

Madonna - Ghosttown

In homage to The Special’s song of the same name, this is about life after the apocalypse. Who would you want at your side if you were stranded in a post-apocalyptic world? In this 2015 electro-pop ballad, Madonna professes her undying love and devotion to her romantic partner. They have only each other to rely on.

Whilst the main theme of the song is around an end-of-world scenario, it can be interpreted as a metaphor for everyday life.

21. Ghost – Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber - Ghost

This 2021 pop song’s narrator is about mourning, loss, and regret. Bereaved after the loss of a loved one, Bieber reflects on their short time together. He wishes they had spent more time together before passing.

Because their relationship was short-lived he relies on the numerous beautiful memories they had together in this ballad. In the absence of his deceased loved one, the presence of their ghost serves as the next best thing to their real company.

Beiber and his co-writers wrote this song during the pandemic, which was a time of great loss for many people. This is a great song to listen to when you miss somebody. It also inspires you to make the most of the time you have as you never know when it will end.

22. Phantom of the Opera – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman, Steve Harley - The Phantom Of The Opera

The Phantom of the Opera is a classic musical that will haunt you with its ghoulish story. A mysterious, masked musician who lives in the labyrinth under the Paris Opéra House gets obsessed with a beautiful singer, Christine Daaé, in this film adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 book of the same name.

This is perfect if you´re looking for a longer ghost story in musical form.

23. Don’t Fear The Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

Don't Fear the Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult

Written in 1976 this recognizable rock song deals with the subject of death. It’s also full of cowbells and is one of Blue Oyster Cult’s most popular songs. The band members were all huge horror movie lovers, which is partially how they came up with the song’s concept.

There is a fantastic message in the song. If you’re going to a party where there will be ghosts and goblins, this is a nice tune to play. It has deeper meanings about not fearing death and living life to the fullest while you can. Don’t fear the reaper!

ooOOooO… Stay Spooky!

Thanks for reading. That concludes my list of the best songs about ghosts. Now you have the perfect playlist for your next Halloween party or satanic ritual. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any ghoulish suggestions of your own.

Share.

Comments are closed.

Know Your Instrument