Ah, the bliss of waking up, pulling on a cozy old wool sweater, and drinking a mug of hot tea. Like most Americans, fall is my favorite season. The cooler, autumnal weather is such a relief after the sweaty, hazy days of summer. And even though it may be “basic,” the pumpkin spice lattes, hay bale mazes, knit scarves and warm apple cider are pretty hard to beat!
But the most treasured fall pastime is hands-down pumpkin carving. There’s nothing like getting your family together on a chilly fall night to craft spooky faces while a full moon looms in the sky.
Did you know that the tradition of the jack-o’-lantern comes from an old Irish legend about a drunkard who makes a bargain with Satan that curses him to wander the Earth with just a hollowed turnip to illuminate his way? The tradition was brought to the United States by Irish immigrants in the early 19th century and has become an American staple ever since.
Now, what music should you listen to while carving pumpkins? Don’t fear—we have some eerie tunes just for you!
Bing Crosby – The Headless Horseman
This 1949 song comes from the Disney movie adaptation of Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” which tells about a horseman who carries his head in his lap, and who, late one night, frightens a teacher so bad that the teacher disappears. Some say he fled the village, while others say that the horseman took his body and soul. All that they know for certain is that the teacher’s hat was found in the morning next to a smashed pumpkin.
Written in 1820, this story helped to create the cannon of American literature, and it also contributed to the spookiness of the carved-out pumpkin in the American imagination. With a hip-hip and a clippity-clop, he’s out lookin’ for a top to chop …
Jackie McClean – Demon’s Dance
The angular and varied textures in this 1967 tune will inspire you to make crisp and creative cuts in your pumpkin, turnip, gourd, or other root vegetable. Maybe you’ll even carve out an image of demons dancing around a fire—who knows? See where your inner ghoul takes you!
Ella Fitzgerald – Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead
From the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, this is a beloved song that’ll definitely captivate you and your family. If you don’t remember, the song celebrates when Dorothy’s house falls on the Wicked Witch of the East, and when the Wicked Witch of the West is splashed with water.
John DiMartino, Joe Magnarelli & Wayne Escoffery – Hudson River Wind
Although this is technically not a spooky song, it really captures the spirit of fall. When you think of autumn, don’t you think of a gust of wind blowing leaves into a rushing river?
If you’re looking for more jazz songs to listen to while you carve pumpkins, check out our albums My Ship and Old New Borrowed and Blue, which are both available in our store and on all major music platforms now.