Oct 01 2017

Spooky

October is finally here and I want to celebrate by sharing a song which I’ve always associated with the Halloween season. It’s a called “Spooky” and it’s available on YouTube thanks to Classics IV – Topic:

It might surprise you to learn how its name and Halloween references aren’t why I associate it with the holiday. Back when I was growing up, it was one of the few songs local radio stations would play in October. I recall that Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash” was always popular and occasionally “Martian Hop” by the Ran-Dells would get a spin or two. But that was it. Thankfully “Spooky” got just as much airtime as “The Monster Mash” did. It might gotten a little more airtime now that I think about it! I don’t know why the selection was limited to those songs. Perhaps I would have heard more festive music on other stations (or at other times on the radio stations my family usually listened to). Maybe the radio stations in the area ditched most Halloween-related albums in favor of more general listening music. Whatever the reason was, that’s all I heard every year and I was always thrilled to hear them. But the guitar riffs and saxophone solo of “Spooky” would have made it a personal favorite even if I had heard more Halloween songs back then. Most of my memories of this song come from riding in my father’s van while running errands and the like. “Spooky” almost always played at night and at many times it would be playing while we traveled down a certain heavily forested (and sparsely populated) part of the road. Houses in that direction of the road either didn’t decorate or were too hidden by trees to see anything. Hearing “Spooky” was the only thing to remind travelers that Halloween was approaching.

But moving to another state meant different radio stations and different playlists. It also meant more densely populated roads with plenty of decorated houses. But that somehow only made my occasionally hearing it even more special. I could close my eyes and be instantly transported back into that blue Chevy van traveling down a dark road. Maybe if I had paid more attention to the disc jockey, it wouldn’t have taken me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out the song’s name and the band responsible for it!

Putting together this article inspired me to do a little extra research about “Spooky,” along with the people behind it. Given its use of the word “groovy,” I had always assumed it was made in the 1970’s. But it turns out it was from the late 1960’s. “Spooky” was originally an instrumental written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks and was performed by Shapiro under his stage name “Mike Sharpe” in 1967. It wasn’t until J. R. Cobb (guitarist) and Buddy Buie (producer/manager) of the Classics IV created their own lyrics for a recording made the following year that the song got really popular. In case you’re wondering about the band’s name, they started out as a cover group called “The Classics.” The name wasn’t a reference to their choice of material to cover; it was just a reference to the drum set owned by singer Dennis Yost. They were forced to change their name after being contacted by another band called “The Classics.” By adding the number of the band’s (then) total members at the time, they became the “Four Classics’ and later the Classics IV. Or simply “Classics IV,” differing reference material makes it difficult to determine with exact certainty. I opt for “The Classics IV” since that’s the spelling used on the band’s official website. Looking at the song’s Wikipedia entry revealed the existence of other takes on the song. I’ve actually heard the Dusty Springfield version it mentions and was disappointed to find out it wasn’t being sung from the girlfriend’s perspective. Instead it’s about a woman singing about her spooky boyfriend. The only major difference between the two versions is how neither party proposes in the Springfield version.

That’s about it for my memories about this particular song. Well, except for how my younger brother and I would sometimes joke about the male vocalist singing about loving a “little girl.” Having compared reprints of old comic books to (then) modern comics, we both were fully aware of how things had changed over the decades. But a little thing like that didn’t stop us. Well, that’s it for this little trip down memory lane. I hope this helps you get as pumped for the Halloween season as “Spooky” does for me. We’ve got plenty of great material for this year’s countdown and you definitely don’t want to miss it!

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