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Halloween Playlist Collection Volume Three: Gypsies and Witches
People of Magic
These are two groups who have undergone a major (and I think positive) change in the public eye over the years. Gypsies, who were long thought of as dirty, untrustworthy nomadic thieves, are finally being regarded as the complex and fascinating culture that they are. Likewise, the concept of witchcraft in the public eye is changing from a strange unholy cult to a perfectly acceptable lifestyle with some darn good principles and a fascinating (not to mention strangely practical!) belief system.
Both peoples have also been long- associated with Halloween. When Bram Stoker wrote his masterpiece Dracula, the roaming gypsies of the Carpathians figured largely into the plot. And no Halloween story is complete without a witch conjuring over a cauldron or giving some mysterious prophecy.
They have also long been associated with magic. Gypsy curses and fortune tellers figure prominently in the folklore of almost all countries, while of course witches live their daily lives working with positive and negative magic. Thus when I searched for a good playlist for my witch room at a Halloween party a few years ago, my playlist was largely dominated by mystical tunes, and fiddles. Lots and lots of fiddles. Gypsies always have and always will love their fiddles. Luckily, so do I! Here's my gypsy and witch Halloween playlist!
Bonfires, Bottles, and Belly Dancers
Please keep in mind there is a huge genre of belly dancing and new age music out there perfectly suited for this sort of thing, but as I only started listening to this sort music about two years ago my knowledge of the genre is severely limited.
- Double Trouble- John Williams- By far my favorite film in the Harry Potter franchise, I also loved the soundtrack to Prisoner of Azkaban. This song, which we are introduced to in an early scene, features throughout. It is a tribute to the witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth, sung by a children's choir with giant bullfrogs singing baritone (Just go with it!). It's a festive song touched with whimsy and menace both at once. Perfect for an evening spent around the crystal ball!
- Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves- Cher- Oh yes, Cher managed to sneak into my Halloween playlist collection through this little ditty about a gypsy family and their journeys up and down the US east coast. The rhythm of this song is bouncy and sensuous, evoking both the bumpy trek of a gypsy van along the dirt road and the swinging hips of a lovely gypsy dancer in the firelight.
- Gypsy Fiddle- Meisce- I fell in love with this song when I discovered it by accident over six years ago, but I lost it when my old computer crashed. It took me almost five years to find it again, but the second I saw it on iTunes I snatched it up. It tells the story of a man who follows a fiddle- playing gypsy girl into the hills, gets wasted on gypsy liquor, has what I'm guessing is one hell of a good time, and wakes up alone, a broken man whose only relief is the bottle. The fiddles in this are beautiful and the man's voice has almost a Tom Waits quality to it, so deep, scratchy and worn that you can clearly feel the desperate misery of a man who has known enchantment and been cast back out into reality, always craving a return to the magic. It is the perfect gypsy song, sung in perfect gypsy fashion!
- Come Little Children- Sarah Michelle Geller, katethegreat19/ Erutan- This is a song we all know from watching Hocus Pocus growing up. It is a mysterious little tune, sung in the movie by Sarah Michelle Geller for about a minute and a half. The melody is haunting, the lyrics somewhat enchanting and yet chilling. The singer beckons children into the shadows, promising them an escape into a "garden of magic". The poem behind this song is mysterious and surrounded by legend. Some say it was written by the original goth, Edgar Allen Poe himself. Others say it was written by some unknown poet, or that it was just written for the soundtrack with inspiration from old fairy tales about witches. A few years ago I discovered a version of this song sung by up and coming new age singer katethegreat19, who I've recently learned also goes by Erutan. This version is even more haunting than Geller's, evoking a much more mysterious, enchanting, even sad feeling as the song plays through. Whether for nostalgia's sake or just because it's literally an open invitation into the world of dark magic, this belongs on any witch room playlist.
- On the Beach- Queen of the Damned, The Score Album- Jonathan Davis- I will save my rant on the pathetic film with an amazing soundtrack for later, but this song deserves mention on this list. In the film, this song plays during a scene on the beach where our *ahem* protagonist is coming to terms with being undead. He and his mentor happen upon a band of gypsies playing fiddles around a bonfire and he jams with them until he loses control and has them for dinner. The fiddle bit of this song is perfect, sounding like something you'd hear during a Romani belly dancer's snake routine. Unfortunately, it also falls into that oh-so-common trap of film scores where the great mood music is interrupted by the loud, unorganized action music which kills the vibe quicker than I kill rum! I once found an edited version of this song where the music just fades as the fiddle bit starts to wrap up, but again I lost it when my hard drive crashed on that computer. Still, the fiddles in this song make it worth having.
- Battle of Evermore- Led Zeppelin- This direct homage to JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth has a mystical, bard-like quality to it which goes well with our theme. I think the main reason for this is that, unlike Stairway to Heaven (classic that it is), this song involves no electric guitars or special sounds. It's just a few singers, a guitar, and some lyrics strongly influenced by Tolkien's writings. A throwback to days of yore and worlds unseen, it's all a fantasy lover could ask for from a name we all know well!
- Fairy Tale- Alexander Rybak- Another wonderful bit of magic on the fiddle, this song takes us back to Grimm's Black Forest, a place both gypsies and witches have known well over the years. I especially like the main verse of this song: "I'm in love with a fairy tale, even though it hurts. 'Cause I don't care if I lose my mind; I'm already cursed!" We are again reminded of the attraction the enchanted world holds for us, and the desperate desire we cannot help but feel for it.
- In Search of the Grail- Merlin Soundtrack- Trevor Jones- One of the most under-appreciated films of all time, Merlin is the story of King Arthur told at last from the eyes of his loyal wizard.The story centers around Merlin, the last wizard of the old ways and his attempts to foster and guide the fledgling Christian movement in England. This song serves almost as the film's overture, generously giving the listener a peek at every aspect of the film: It's mystical, majestic, sensual, hopeful, sorrowful, and mysterious as the old wizard himself. A perfect little number to hear as you shuffle the Tarot cards and light the candles!
- Mystic's Dream- Loreena McKennit- This song is only the first centimeter of the tip of the iceberg of McKennit's beautiful new age music, but as it was the first song I've heard of hers and it remains my favorite, it gets the spot on my list! Mystic's Dream is exactly what it says, a dream of the mystical world and all its wonders, sung by a lovely female voice backed up with a mixture of traditional Celtic instruments and a few more contemporary pieces as well. If you're serious about listening to new age music, then Loreena McKennit is an artist you must familiarize yourself with. For our purposes here, however, this song offers a stunning glimpse into the magical realm as the witches would likely tell you it looks.
- Raggle Taggle Gypsy- Traditional Scottish Folk Song- Clearly the concept of sexy gypsies and the fun they offer is not entirely new, as this song demonstrates. It tells of a woman married to some stuffy old lord who leaves her husband behind to have an affair with a much more attractive gypsy. This song has been passed down through the generations, showing that there has always been an element of glamor to the wandering folk. It belongs in any gypsy's musical repertoire!
Sherlock Holmes: Down and Dirty with the Gypsies
One CD I highly recommend to get that gypsy fiddle groove is the soundtrack for Sherlock Holmes : A Game of Shadows.
When Guy Ritchie re-imagined Sherlock Holmes in 2010, he took the old concept of Holmes, got it drunk, and handed it a fiddle. Rather than the classical music of other Sherlock Holmes franchises, which was historically accurate to the times, Ritchie's Holmes lives in a world of gypsy fiddles and fist fights, drugs and intrigue. However, this version is almost 100% historically accurate also! There were just as many people getting drunk and dirty with the gypsies in the Victorian era as there were people crowding into the opera house in their finest suits.
While the first Sherlock Holmes soundtrack certainly captured this mood, the second one not only kept the gypsy influence but ran with it, even making gypsies a major group of characters in the second film's storyline. If you want good gypsy fiddle music for your fortune teller tent or gypsy caravan, buy this CD!
So get to it!
Well, there you have it! It's not my longest playlist, but then again you could probably make a pretty full playlist just out of at few of the artists I listed above. You may notice I left out some pretty obvious witch-related songs by other well-known artists, but this was not a mistake. A lot of those songs have already been used in other playlist hubs, and I want to absolutely avoid overlap!
So light the fire, set the girls to dancing, start filling the cauldron and get your mystic on!