Songs About Ghosts

Songs About Ghosts: Music’s Ghostly Ballads

Music and storytelling have been intertwined since time immemorial, serving not just as a form of entertainment but also as a conduit for preserving narratives and emotions that span the gamut of human experience. Among these, songs about ghosts have carved out a niche, mesmerizing listeners with their haunting melodies and eerie lyrics. Let’s dive into this ghostly world and uncover the stories behind some of the most chilling tracks.

“Ghost Riders in the Sky” by Johnny Cash

Perhaps no song captures the essence of spectral cowboys better than “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” Originally penned by Stan Jones and famously covered by Johnny Cash, this track paints a vivid picture of damned souls chasing the devil’s herd across the sky. Cash’s deep, resonant voice adds a bone-chilling layer to the song, making it a timeless piece in the realm of ghost songs. The imagery of riders cursed to chase forever captures our imagination and echoes the wild west’s harsh, untamed spirit.

“Ballad of Hollis Brown” by Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” is a stark, powerful song that, while not explicitly about ghosts, evokes a ghostly atmosphere through its narrative of despair and tragedy. The song tells the story of a South Dakota farmer, struggling to survive against relentless poverty, driving him to a dark and fatal resolution. Dylan’s hauntingly sparse acoustic arrangement and somber tone turn the song into a ghost story of lost hopes and haunting despair.

“Laura” by Bat for Lashes

Natasha Khan, performing as Bat for Lashes, brings a ghostly resonance to the theme of loss in her song “Laura.” The track serves as an elegy to a fading star whose glory days are whispered about among the shadows of present struggles. The piano-driven ballad is both beautiful and melancholic, with Khan’s voice gracefully conveying deep emotional layers, as if reaching out from beyond to comfort a friend stuck between two worlds.

“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr.

Switching gears to a lighter, more pop-cultural side of ghost songs, Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” is instantly recognizable and perennially linked to the iconic film of the same name. It’s a funky, upbeat anthem that has become a staple at every Halloween party, inviting listeners to feel less scared of the supernatural with its catchy hook and playful lyrics. Despite its commercial vibe, the song has secured its place in the pantheon of ghostly music.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” needs little introduction as one of the most famous tracks in the history of music. With Vincent Price’s terrifying voice-over and a groundbreaking music video featuring dancing zombies, “Thriller” is a masterpiece of pop culture that brilliantly uses the theme of the supernatural. Although it’s more about zombies than ghosts, the spooky ambiance it creates is unmatched.

“Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” with its unforgettable chorus featuring Michael Jackson, taps into the paranoia and fear of being observed. It’s a Halloween favorite, not directly about ghosts but embodying a feeling of eerie surveillance that could well be from another world. The song’s funky beat contrasts with its spooky lyrics, creating a sense of unease that’s both entertaining and unnerving.

“This Is Halloween” from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Danny Elfman’s “This Is Halloween,” from the film “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” is a delightful celebration of all things spooky. Performed by the citizens of Halloween Town, it introduces a cast of ghastly characters, from ghosts to goblins, reveling in the creepy and macabre. It’s a whimsical take on the ghost theme, inviting listeners to embrace their darker, more mysterious sides.

“Ghost” by Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber’s “Ghost” takes a metaphorical approach to the theme, using the ghost as a symbol for someone lost, still haunting the memories of the living. It’s a heartfelt pop song that reflects on loss and the desire to hold on to those who have passed away. Bieber’s tender vocal delivery adds a layer of sincerity and emotional depth to the concept of haunting absences.

“Helena” by My Chemical Romance

In My Chemical Romance’s “Helena,” ghosts symbolize death and mourning within a beautifully gothic context. This song blends punk rock energy with a dark, theatrical flair, reflecting on the passing of a loved one and the haunting grief that follows. Gerard Way’s passionate vocals and the band’s dynamic performance make “Helena” a cathartic anthem for anyone dealing with loss.

“The Ghost of You” by My Chemical Romance

Continuing with My Chemical Romance, “The Ghost of You” further explores themes of loss and remembrance. This song delves into the emotional aftermath of a tragedy, with the music video portraying the band members as soldiers in a war, underscoring the song’s themes of loss and haunting memories. The intense emotions conveyed in both lyrics and performance resonate with anyone who has ever felt haunted by the past.

“The House Carpenter” (Traditional Folk Song)

“The House Carpenter,” also known as “The Daemon Lover,” is a traditional folk song that tells a ghostly tale of temptation and betrayal. The song narrates the story of a woman lured away from her family by the ghost of a former lover, only to face a tragic fate. The eerie melody and old-world lyrics transport listeners to a time when ghost stories were not just entertainment but cautionary tales about the consequences of forsaken promises.

“Ghosts of Cape Horn” by Gordon Lightfoot

“Ghosts of Cape Horn” by Gordon Lightfoot is a melodic ode to the intrepid sailors who dared to navigate the treacherous waters around South America’s southernmost tip. With a rhythm reminiscent of waves on the open sea, Lightfoot’s poignant lyrics pay tribute to the bravery and endurance of seafarers who embarked on perilous journeys, sometimes never to return. The song’s vivid storytelling conjures images of ships lost to the relentless storms and icy waters, offering listeners a glimpse into the challenging life of mariners while honoring the spirits of those who sailed the unforgiving seas.

“The Ghost in You” by Psychedelic Furs

Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost in You” is a shimmering, melancholic song that explores the ghostly presence of past relationships lingering in one’s heart. The soft, dreamy quality of the music, paired with introspective lyrics, evokes a sense of longing and remembrance, making it a hauntingly beautiful ode to memories that refuse to fade.

“Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne

Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon” showcases his iconic flair for theatrical, dark themes. In this song, Ozzy delves into tales of transformations and creatures of the night, with a howling protagonist that might as well be a ghostly figure. The hard rock edges and Osbourne’s dynamic performance give it a thrilling, adrenaline-pumping vibe, perfect for any spooky or haunted celebration.

“Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac

Stevie Nicks’ ethereal voice and mystical storytelling in Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” bring to life the tale of a woman who is perhaps not a ghost but is certainly touched by the supernatural. Inspired by old Welsh legends, this song feels like a modern ghost tale, evocative and draped in the mysterious allure of a spectral woman who rules hearts and spirits alike.

“The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad” resurrects the spirit of Steinbeck’s character from The Grapes of Wrath. This acoustic ballad is a powerful social commentary wrapped in the ghostly metaphor of Tom Joad, who stands as a symbol for the forgotten and downtrodden. Springsteen’s gravelly voice and stark, haunting lyrics paint a ghostly picture of America’s landscape of disparity.

“Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man” by Concrete Blonde

Concrete Blonde’s “Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man” tells the tale of an encounter with a ghost in a hotel, blending humor with a touch of spookiness. The song combines rock rhythms with catchy lyrics, depicting the ghostly suitor with a blend of allure and spectral mystery. It’s a fun, slightly cheeky take on the ghost song genre, showing that even ghost stories can have a lighter side.

“My Wife and My Dead Wife” by Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock’s “My Wife and My Dead Wife” is one of the more unusual entries in the ghost song category. This track explores the complex emotions of a man haunted by the presence of his deceased wife while living with his new wife. The quirky lyrics and Hitchcock’s unique delivery turn it into a strangely whimsical yet darkly poignant song about love, loss, and the ghosts of our past relationships.

Ghost Town

“Ghost Town,” by The Specials’ iconic 1981 release, paints a grim picture of urban decay and social unrest. The song’s haunting melody and echoing vocals reflect the eerie emptiness of a once-thriving city now desolate and abandoned. The slow, reggae-inspired rhythm and sparse instrumentation underscore the song’s chilling atmosphere, capturing the sense of foreboding and tension that permeates societies on the brink of collapse.


A ghostly woman signalling for silence.

Songs about ghosts weave tales of the eerie and unknown, capturing our fascination with haunting melodies and spectral stories. These tunes bridge the worlds of the living and the supernatural, leaving us both intrigued and enchanted by their mysteries, while inspiring countless film adaptations that bring these spectral tales to vivid life on screen.