Good eeeeeeeevening, fellow roadies; and how are you this spooky night? It’s bloody well slushing in Chicago, a night not fit for man or beast – but the beasties are out there, all the same. Bwahahaha! And we have a ghostly double-header for you for the Song Of The Week, in memory of all those ghosts out on the route from the days when it was dangerous to drive and earned the nickname “Bloody 66.”
Is there haunting, haunted Route 66 song for Halloween? Well, no, not really (ghouls howling Bobby Troup’s road anthem don’t count). However, Route 66 begins in Chicago, home to jazz and blues (especially in 1926), so creepy-crawly jazz will have to do. And to whom shall we turn for such music? Well! Who else? Duke Ellington, the master. His suite Night Creature has three movements, and the creepiest by far is the middle section, entitled Stalking Monster. Perfect for something slinking through the dark and about to scream Gotcha!
Now, we looked all over YouTube and couldn’t find a decent recording of just that section by someone other than Duke … so we’re putting it right here on our audio player, for your convenience. You can, however, find a halfway decent performance of the entire suite on YouTube by conductor and pianist Myung-Whun Chung and Rome’s Orchestra dell’ Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (one of the best-known orchestras in Italy) here. It doesn’t swing as much as it should, but hey, at least those Italians are trying. This track is from Duke’s own 1963 recording The Symphonic Ellington on Columbia, which was re-released by Rhino Records/Warner Brothers. I’ve always thought of the first movement as an elegant if jivin’ tone poem for night people everywhere (it even sounds like a night out on the town). The second movement, however, is our spooky theme for tonight. Here you go:
We did, however, find something else that might interest you from back in the day: a wartime broadcast (1941) of Glenn Miller and His Orchestra doing “Swingin’ At The Seance” on YouTube. Miller, of course, mysteriously disappeared on December 15, 1944 when the plane that was taking him to France to entertain the troops vanished in bad weather over the English Channel. So we really would need a seance to reach him. Just for a bonus, then, thrill to this and swing out, roadie cats:
And if that doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a Halloween roadhouse on Route 66 in the Twilight Zone, we don’t know what will. BTW, if you’re up for some chilling Louis Armstrong as well, drop by our pals at SpookyThings Online to catch a spooktacular song from him, too. Be careful out there tonight on Bloody 66!
Your own spooky mixmistress,