All posts filed under: Strange Music

Dueling Banjos

On it’s own, the jangling banjo tune featured in the 1972 film Deliverance doesn’t have a hint of foreboding to it. But when it’s layered over the antics of it’s four main characters, it builds an increasing sense of dread. The movie centers around four friends, Lewis, Bobby, Drew and Ed embarking on a canoe trip down the Cahulawasse River, which is about to be dammed and turned into a massive lake. When the group arrives in the area at the beginning of the film, they stop to gas up and hire a few locals to drive their cars down to the end of the river, where they will meet them in a day. As the camera cuts from the musical exchange between a steely eyed local and Drew to the increasingly obnoxious antics of Lewis and Bobby, the audience, along with Ed, becomes increasingly unsettled. The whole scene provides foreshadowing for the conflict the group will face with a pair of locals later in the film, and the tune itself will bring a feeling …

The Apprehension Engine

If you ever wondered how some of the hair raising sounds in your favorite horror movie are made, they may have been created with this instrument. The Apprehension Engine was created by film composer Mark Korven and musician Tony Duggan-Smith in order to create all of the spooky sounds they wanted to hear in movies without relying on a limited pool of digital samples. Listening to the instrument in person is described as being especially unsettling. Brad Wheeler with the Globe and Mail noted during a demonstration by Kroven that “As Korven manipulates the thing, the room’s temperature drops about 10 degrees and the composer’s tiny dog retreats to an upstairs closet.” If you were interested in owning one of these nightmare sound machines, the base cost is a mere 10,000.00. Not in your Halloween budget? Then enjoy some of the videos below!

Casting a Spell with Screaming Jay Hawkins

When Screaming Jay Hawkins originally wrote I Put a Spell on You, he originally envisioned it as a ballad. After recording it as such, the original version wasn’t released, and Hawkins wound up in a studio a year later to re-record the song for Columbia records. This time, his producer showed up with fried chicken and beer, and at the end of the night, the wild, unhinged version we know today had been recorded. Despite being banned from the radio, the new recording sold over a million copies. The success of the song prompted him to take on a more wild persona, rising out of a coffin with a cape on, surrounded by smoke, for his performances. Snakes on stage and tusks in his nose were added later, completing what is considered one of the first shock rock performances.

Swept Up In Taylor Swift’s Riptide

Taylor Swift dropped by the BBC Radio One studio recently to promote her new album Lover, and while I loved her set, I don’t think it tops her cover of Vance Joy’s Riptide from a few years ago. Firstly, Swift’s country roots definitely allowed her to keep the performance emotional and personal, instead of turning it into an oversized pop cover. And there’s a certain slyness to her singing this song. When you listen closely to the lyrics, you could almost imagine it being written about her. I was scared of dentists and the dark I was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations Oh, all my friends are turning green You’re the magician’s assistant in their dreams Oh Oh and they come unstuck Lady, running down to the riptide Taken away to the dark side I wanna be your left hand man I love you when you’re singing that song and I got a lump in my throat ’cause You’re gonna sing the words wrong Is this movie that I think you’ll like …

I Miss You

Bandmates Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge may have exuded immature, goofball personas during their time in Blink 182, but underneath they were very serious musicians and songwriters. Take their hit I Miss You, for example. They discussed themes first, and then each wrote on of the verses in separate rooms. Barker wrote the first verse, and Hopper wrote the second. They then reconvended to bring the song together with the chorus and record it. Hello there, The angel from my nightmare, The shadow in the background of the morgue. The unsuspecting victim of darkness in the valley. We can live like Jack and Sally If we want.   Where you can always find me And we’ll have Halloween on Christmas. And in the night we’ll wish this never ends, We’ll wish this never ends.   (I miss you, miss you) (I miss you, miss you)   Where are you? And I’m so sorry. I cannot sleep, I cannot dream tonight. I need somebody and always This sick strange darkness Comes creeping on so haunting every …

Let It Be

Set in the tumultuous 1960s, Across the Universe is a surreal look at love, loss, and self discovery centered around the music of the Beatles. Although many of the musical sequences are dizzying dreamlike fantasies, the film is grounded with sobering moments of reality, including one standout scene set to Let It Be. Director Julie Taylor deftly cuts between scenes from the 1967 Detroit riot and a family receiving news of a soldiers death to illustrate the simultaneous devastating effects of the Vietnam War and civil unrest. The song itself is a tribute to the simple vocals of the original recording and the soaring gospel version recorded by Aretha Franklin. The first clip is an inspiring behind the scenes look at the filming process and Carol Woods’s original audition, the second is the actual sequence in the movie

Big Confidence Behind a Tiny Desk

If I could bottle up the confidence of one person, it would be Lizzo. And if that confidence had a color, it would probably match the tangerine she is wearing in this Tiny Desk concert appearance for NPR. As Stephan Thompson puts it, Lizzo arrived for soundcheck “dressed to the nines, and ready to sing her face off.” Which she certainly does in this performance.


I just discovered Matt Maeson’s Cringe while listening to the radio on my way home from work last week. You know you’ve found a new favorite when you turn up the volume the first time you hear it.

Classical Remix

I love watching videos by 2Cellos anytime I need a pick me up. The Croatian duo is known for reworking pop songs and theme songs into classical music, and have a talent for keeping each piece fresh and entertaining without the benefit of lyrics. Plus they always look like they are having a blast. 

Every 27 Years

I’ve mentioned here before that I have a writing soundtrack full of songs from the classical music scores of different movies and TV shows. One of those songs is Benjamin Wallfisch‘s Every 27 Years, the eerie piano tune that opens and closes the film. Lilypichu’s rendition here is staged as a simple homage to the 2017 film, and definitely has me looking forward to chapter 2 this August!