I’ve long shunned the most popular music of the day. What can I say, I’m a fan of the underdog. Olivia Rodrigo just released her sophomore album and I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about her song “Vampire.” It’s catchy — I get why people like it. Alas, it’s not for me.
But, it’s that time of year! Halloween is coming, and I’m in the mood for songs about vampires! So today, I’m scouring my collection for 5 songs about vampires NOT by Olivia Rodrigo.
As always, I’m pulling items straight from my collection. That means there are some notable gaps — I’m looking at you Bauhaus. So drop your favorites in the comments, especially if they aren’t on this list.
And I’m going to start with a bonus that isn’t about vampires, but opens with THE most classic vampire line:
The Smashing Pumpkins: Bullet with Butterfly Wings
I, of course, am talking about “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by The Smashing Pumpkins. The line is this:
The world is a vampire, set to dra-eee-aaa-eee-aaain.
Billy Corgan isn’t singing about vampires here, but instead about angst and alienation at the world around us. Released in 1995, I remember binge listening to this for years. That angst in Corgans vocals, the strength in those power chords, when it jumps into the chorus and he screams:
Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage
And who can forget the guitar solo! Epic!
This song is so distinctly different from a lot of what you’ll find on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness — the melodic “Tonight, Tonight” or the wandering “Porcelain of the Vast Oceans.”
I remember this entire album entrancing me — much like a vampire’s gaze — and I was powerless to get away.
This right here is my unofficial 2022 pressing on three red marble discs. It’s quite well done for being unofficial, and I love how the red looks.
For about the same price as the 3 LP unofficial pressing, you can pick up a 2022 reissue box set for less than $100. I’ll have a link in the description if you want to check that one out on Amazon. What can I say? it’s where I’ve found the best price.
Next up, we take a trip back to 1974.
Neil Young: Vampire Blues
In this classic Neil Young track off his 1974 album On The Beach, Young sings:
I’m a vampire, babe, sucking blood from the earth.
Kinda like The Smashing Pumpkins, this one almost seems less about actual vampires and more about consumerism. Sucking blood from the earth makes me think of drilling for oil. He sings about vampires and bats, but he also talks about good times coming. But dig into the history of the song — and Young himself — and you’ll find that it is indeed about an oil magnate ruining the environment.
So much for this being a true list of vampire-themed songs.
“Vampire Blues” is… well… bluesy. With a solid beat. I love the cool swagger, the meandering guitar, the occasionally blown out bass. It doesn’t go out with a bang, but instead fades away. Overall, not much haunting about it, but a solid one to stick on your Halloween Playlist nonetheless thanks to the content within.
This here is an original year — 1974 — stereo pressing on Reprise. It was Young’s fifth studio album and celebrates a whopping 50 years soon. Ming boggling!
Wooden Shjips: Vampire Blues
Drawing from Neil Young’s classic is this drone-ridden stoner rock cover of the song from neo-psychedelic band Wooden Shjips of their 2010 LP Vol. 2. The hints of blues are still there, but you get Wooden Shjips’ signature noisy, fuzzed out, reverbed out sound.
It’s missing some of those echoing guitar solos you’d find in the band’s more recent work, but it’s still a great one. Rather than the wandering blues riffs, we get some equally psychedelic keyboards.
If you are a fan of psychedelic rock and want to explore something quite a bit heavier with a solid, spacey drone, check this one out. I love this band and I feel they’re quite underrated.
While the band was on my radar prior to being featured in Season 2 of The Walking Dead, hearing “Lazy Bones” highlighted in the show made me a big fan, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the band since.
Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats: Vampire Circus
Speaking of stoner rock, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats also fits the bill, and they slide comfortably into a few parallel sub genres as well, like doom metal.
Uncle Acid’s music definitely leans into the occult, and the band is perfect for heavier Halloween-themed playlists.
From their 2010 debut album Vol. 1 comes “Vampire Circus” and it’s signature to the sound they’ve been creating now for, well a lucky 13 years. The album is fascinating! The original release was entirely self-funded — something you tend to see when it’s both self-recorded and self-released. And it that release found its way onto just 30 unmastered CD-Rs!
Well, the band has come a LONG way from those early days, building upon the cult, the occult, the macabre, and the truly terrifying — both in the sounds they create and in the thematic elements within their music.
That makes “Vampire Circus” one of two songs that are ACTUALLY ABOUT vampires on this list, aside from a lyrical reference to the creature.
Or is it three? You be the judge when we get to the last one…
Uncle Acid released their sixth studio album Slaughter on First Avenue this year — something I discovered as I was compiling this list — so I’m kinda excited to give that a listen given I have the band’s other five albums.
Roky Erickson: Night of the Vampire
You cannot compile a list of songs about vampires without including the classic “Night of the Vampire” from Roky Erickson.
Roky Erickson rose to fame with his band The 13th Floor Elevators. After they disbanded in 1969, Erickson spent time in a mental institution after pleading insanity in response to drug charges. Many consider that treatments he received over the course of his 3 and a half year confinement contributed to mental troubles that followed.
In the solo career that followed, “Night of the Vampire” is among the more known tracks, and one of my favorites.
Here, he leans less into the full-on psychedelic genre he helped cultivate in its earliest forms and more into a garage-ridden hard, blues-y rock that he seemed to favor a bit throughout his sporadic solo career.
Silver Jews: Transylvania Blues
Wrapping up the list is none other than David Berman and his group Silver Jews with the song “Transylvania Blues” off the 2001 album Bright Flights.
Remember earlier when I said that there was a possible third track that was ACTUALLY about vampires on this list, and not just alluding to the terrifying immortal creature of the night?
Well, the “possibility” is due to one simple thing: this song is an instrumental track.
What you get is a cool swagger in the bass; a dreamy, wandering guitar; consistently driving percussion; and, like so many others on this list, a hint of blues.
It’s a bit different from a lot of what you get from the band. And there’s not much horror to it. But it’s a solid conclusion to the list, and warrants a mention.
What Are Your Favorite Vampire Themed Songs?
Songs about vampires have been covered a bit here and there, and I hope my list has introduced you to a few that don’t often make the cut.
Ghosts, beasts, monsters — which one should I cover next? Let me know!
Until then, if you’re getting in the mood for Halloween, maybe check out this video here or this one right here. I put these together last year covering a few Halloween worthy songs that are great year round.