Killer Songs*

*For mature readers only, and trust me when I say you’ll look at that little dog differently by the end of this article.

Seriously, songs about killers. Death Songs. Rock and Roll has been rife with these types of oddities since its inception. Probably the heyday of morbid rock was in the 60’s, with songs like “Dead Man’s Curve” or “Last Kiss” (Pearl Jam did a brutal cover of that one a few years back) although that’s not exactly the type of song I’m going to talk about here. I’ve always been fascinated by the tunes with more of an edge, songs with a more threatening tone if you will. If they have a happy little melody to balance things out, well, that’s even better. Hey, there’s nothing cooler than humming along merrily to a song about a serial killer, right?

So without further ado, a list of my favorites:

Run for Your Life – The Beatles

This gem from John Lennon seems harmless enough, at least until you actually listen to the lyrics. It was on Rubber Soul and John pulled no punches regarding what would happen if his girlfriend left him:

Let this be a sermon,
I mean everything I’ve said,
Baby, I’m determined and I’d rather see you dead.
You better run for your life if you can, little girl,
Hide your head in the sand little girl,
Catch you with another man, that’s the end, little girl.

Yikes. How in God’s name did that get past the honcho’s way back in 1965? This, my friends, was an early indicator that the friendly moptops weren’t as innocent as they seemed.

Maxwell’s Silver Hammer – The Beatles

This Paul McCartney song (from Abbey Road) is a great example of how downright nasty lyrics can be when hidden behind a catchy tune and how, incredibly, a lot of people miss the point. Hey, it’s upbeat and bouncy, it can’t possibly be about a guy who murders his girlfriend Joan, his teacher, and then the judge presiding over his trial. Or can it? I’ve got to give you the full song on this one:

Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home
Late nights all alone with a test-tube, ohh-oh-oh-oh…
Maxwell Edison majoring in medicine calls her on the phone
“Can I take you out to the pictures Joa-oa-oa-oan?”
But as she’s getting ready to go a knock comes on the door…

Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head
Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead.

Back in school again Maxwell plays the fool again, teacher gets annoyed
Wishing to avoid an unpleasant sce-e-e-ene
She tells Max to stay when the class has gone away, so he waits behind
Writing 50 times “I must not be so-o-o-oo…”
But when she turns her back on the boy, he creeps up from behind…

Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon her head
Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that she was dead.

P.C. Thirty-One said “we caught a dirty one,” Maxwell stands alone
Painting testimonial pictures ohh-oh-oh-oh
Rose and Valerie screaming from the gallery, say he must go free
The judge does not agree and he tells them so-o-o-oo
But as the words are leaving his lips a noise comes from behind…

Bang, bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer came down upon his head
Bang, Bang, Maxwell’s silver hammer made sure that he was dead.

I’m going to tell you something now that you may not believe. I actually heard an elementary music class singing this song at school once. I stopped outside in the hallway to make sure I was hearing what I thought I was hearing, and I was sure enough correct.


Excitable Boy – Warren Zevon (must-click link!)

Another great song about rape and murder set to a catchy melody. Hey, he’s just an excitable boy:

He took little Suzie to the Junior Prom
Excitable boy, they all said
And he raped her and killed her, then he took her home
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy.

After ten long years they let him out of the home
Excitable boy, they all said
And he dug up her grave and built a cage with her bones
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he’s just an excitable boy.

That last line about building a cage with her bones just finishes it off with the right touch, don’t ya think?

Marie Provost – Nick Lowe

God, I love this song. It’s just chock full of ironic, tongue-in-cheek madness. Basically it’s a song about a silent movie actress who couldn’t adjust when the talkies came to Hollywood. She lives all alone in a house with her little Dachshund, becomes depressed, passes out on pills, and uh, things take an ugly turn. Here ya go kids! Sing along!

She’d been lyin’ there for two or three weeks
The neighbors said they never heard a squeak
While hungry eyes that could not speak
Said even little doggies have gotta eat.

And later . . .

Those quaalude bombs didn’t help her sleep
As her nights grew long and her days grew bleak
It’s all downhill once you’ve passed your peak
Marie got ready for that last big sleep.

The cops came in and they looked around
Throwin’ up everywhere over what they found
The handiwork of Marie’s little dachshund.
That hungry little dachshund!

She was a winner that became a doggie’s dinner
She never meant that much to me
Whoa oh, poor Marie.

Try though as I might to elaborate on those lyrics, I got nuthin’. That is all.

The End – The Doors

Ooh, this song gave me the willies back when I was a young, impressionable kid (insert age joke here). Even now it’s a powerful song in many respects. To this day it’s hard to believe Jim Morrison went where he went with these horrifying lyrics:

The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall.
He went into the room where his sister lived, and then he . . .
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he . . .
Walked on down the hall, and he came to a door…and he looked inside.

“Yes son.”
“I want to kill you.”
“Mother? I want to . . . .f**k you.”

Holy . . . what the hell? Man, you think rap music goes to dark places? They got nothin’ on The Lizard King. Whoa.

Timothy – The Buoys

Great song from the early 70’s about three guys who become trapped in a cave and uh… let’s just say only two are left when the rescuers get to them. Hey, nothing wrong with a catchy little song about cannibalism, is there? Enjoy . . .

Hungry as hell no food to eat
And Joe said that he would sell his soul
For just a piece of meat

Water enough to drink for two
And Joe said to me, “I’ll have a swig
And then there’s some for you.”

Timothy, Timothy, Joe was looking at you
Timothy, Timothy, God what did we do?

I must have blacked out just around then
‘Cause the very next thing that I could see
Was the light of the day again
My stomach was full as it could be
And nobody ever got around
To finding Timothy . . .

So there you have it. My favorite songs about murder, rape, cannibalism, death by dachshund, and screwing your mother.

Have a nice day.

2 thoughts on “Killer Songs*”

  1. Possibly, some of these songs made it past the censors because they were similar to the eons-old ballads of the Appalachian mountains, such as “Tom Dooley,” “Barbara Allen,” and so on.

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