Songs about Mythological Creatures
1. In Search of Orchestra – “In Search of Theme”
Laurin Rinder and W. Michael Lewis were a prolific disco production team in the late â70s. So why not enlist them to provide the soundtrack to a television series dedicated to hunting down the likes of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster? Spectrum Culture launches this monthâs mixtape with music that may trigger a certain visceral response to anyone who grew up with Leonard Nimoyâs pageant of the unknown.
2. Metallica – âOrionâ
The eight-and-a-half-minute âOrionâ doesnât contain a single word, but that doesnât make it any less mythical or a beast of a creature in its own right. Between a pulverizing first half and a heavy, thrashing finale, âOrionâ briefly settles into silence before a hazy, space-like sequence unfolds sounding like the Allman Brothers Band crawling out from hell. With solos from James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and, most notably, the late Cliff Burton, it contains some of the bandâs most proggy, other-world moments without uttering a syllable.
3. Don Jones – “Bigfoot”
The legend of Sasquatch has inspired hours and hours of bad movies, but only a handful of musicians have dared proclaim its mystery in song form. Featuring âauthentic Bigfoot screams,â recorded by noted hoaxer Ray Wallace, Don Jones recorded a whole album dedicated to the hairy beast, but even he could only come up with one side of actual Bigfoot themed music. So for his albumâs B-side, he sang standards, including a deadpan âUnchained Melodyâ thatâs guaranteed to make the hairy one stay in hiding forever.
4. The Police- âWrapped Around Your Fingerâ
Fans of the Police even felt trapped between the Scylla and Charybdis. For all of the bandâs excellent songs, there are just as many duds, sonic failures and throwaway tunes that are doubly frustrating considering that Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland were capable of writing things such as âSo Lonelyâ and âWalking on the Moon.â âWrapped Around Your Finger,â from the bandâs 1983 swan song Synchronicity, is one of the bandâs best, beguiling and haunting, two adjectives Sting tried to perpetrate often in his solo work, but could never rarely scale the heights of songs such as this one.
5. Andrew Bird – âScythian Empiresâ
Andrew Bird songs are typically built from the ground up, and though 2007âs âScythian Empiresâ is no different, it comes across as one of his most complete, straightforward moments. Above acoustic arpeggios, the plucked chirp of his violin and delicate keyboard and piano, Bird finds his voice while whistling melodically like a fluttering a bird and singing of crumbling empires, both modern (âTheir Halliburton attachĂ© cases are useless/ While scotchgard Macintoshes shall be carbonizedâ) and ancient (the Thracians arenât frequent enough song subjects). Few people can paint such a bleak picture and make it sound so beautiful.
6. Earl Sweatshirt- âGriefâ
With that horrendously huge snake slithering around Mr. Sweatshirtâs video, âGriefâ could be the slippery incarnation of the King of Snakes: the Naga. But between Sweatshirt reaching for the Xanax and falling into darker spirals of insanity over the fractured beat, âGriefâ is a sonic reading of a Wraith. Not the type that screeches at Hobbits, but the ghostly mummer that ripples in the wake of a suicide.
7. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- âFable of the Brown Apeâ
Leave it to Nick Cave to write a song about an odd topic and make it sound like mythology. On the same double album, he incorporates Eurydice and poor Orpheus in a song that rhymes his name with the word âorifice.â But on âFable of the Brown Ape,â the song that closes out Abattoir Blues, Cave imagines a nightmare scenario of serpents suckling on cows and a brown ape that flees into mountains, rattling its chains for all the townsfolk to hear.
8. The Decemberists – âMarinerâs Revenge Songâ
The Decemberistsâ âMarinerâs Revenge Songâ is a mini Odyssey unto itself, a tale revolving around a narrator seeking to avenge the romantic and financial mistreatment of his mother at the hands of a whaler captain. âFind him, bind him, tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters,â the boy is instructed from his momâs death bed, and years later he finally hunts the whaler down at sea. Before punishment is inflicted, by âdivine intelligenceâ the narrator and the accused find themselves in the belly of a whale, the sole survivors of an attack from the ocean animal, where the captain is promised that the narratorâs voice will be âthe last words youâll hear.â
9. Rex North – “Oh Please Mr. Bigfoot”
It is perhaps understandable that Bigfoot captured the imagination of would-be country music singers. History has not seen it fit to document what became of Mr. North or what drove him to release this novelty 45 about a horrifying and terribly smelling kidnap artist. But his name lives on among connoisseurs of cryptozoology as the auteur of one more terrible novelty record that capitalized on a short-lived Bigfoot craze.
10. R.E.M.- âSing for the Submarineâ
Buried among the explosive songs on Accelerate, âSing for the Submarineâ is a dark, minor-key miracle that simmers and glowers, an anomaly in much of the catalog of late-era R.E.M. On top of Peter Buckâs urgent guitar work, Michael Stipe appears to be taking stock of the bandâs career, citing songs from oeuvre heavyweights like âSo. Central Rain (Iâm Sorry)â to minor tunes such as âElectron Blue.â However, Stipe drops some obscure references, but is he talking about Clash of the Titans or Blade Runner? Both films run deep in the mythology of those who grew up in the â80s.
11. Suede- âSo Youngâ
For some reason, I donât think the dragon Brett Anderson is chasing here is the mythological one. The opening salvo from Suedeâs self-titled debut, âSo Youngâ features the best of the band: Andersonâs keening, emotional vocals and Bernard Butlerâs soaring guitar work. It is a masterwork in sentiment and suspense, music from a band that deserved the accolades heaped upon Blur and Oasis, but never quite received.
12. Chelsea Wolfe- âDemonsâ
Wolfeâs original recording of âDemonsâ (then titled âBounce House Demonsâ) was a buzzing, lo-fi horror, but when she re-recorded it for Apokalypsis, it grew some muscles. A thrashing drum kit joined Wolfeâs alto howls as she proclaimed âlove is pain,â and the titular creatures seeped into every note. It wasnât Wolfe at her darkest, but it was her most ferocious, as she furiously spewed hellfire.
13. Queens of the Stone Age- âSomeoneâs in the Wolfâ
QOTSA usually coat menace in seduction, but thereâs no pretense here. Turns out that the Big Bad Wolf is a big fan of slicing guitars and Josh Hommeâs creepy croon. The song closes with a chilling smile as Homme sings âso glad you could stay foreverâŠâ a terrifying hint from the band: stay on the path–or else.
14. Killer Mik- âRic Flairâ
What? Ric Flair is totally a mythical creature: look at that majestic white hair, the steroid ravaged body, the ego that could rival Zeus. Mike uses Flair as the primo example of confidence and excess, the sort of swaggering ideology needed to survive the streets of Atlanta. As brilliant rant after brilliant rant tumbles down from recordings of Flair in his prime, itâs clear that Mike and the King of WrestleMania are crafting their own myths as we speak.
15. Rick Dees – “Bigfoot”
Radio personality Rick Dees launched a minor empire of novelty records with the 1976 âDisco Duck,â which hit number one on the Billboard charts. Apparently, the tall and hirsute creature was a less popular subject for discofication, despite the bass baritone (aka slowed down vocal track) cast in the leading role. It reached a mere 100 on the bubbling under charts, perhaps in deference to the mythical creatureâs storied camera shyness.
16. Led Zeppelin – âAchilles Last Standâ
Any musical conversation about the mythical or mystical pretty much has to start with Led Zeppelin, something they reference clearly with their late-career gem, âAchilles Last Stand.â Though named for an injury Robert Plant sustained in a car crash, lyrics like, âThe mighty arms of Atlas hold the heavens from the Earthâ are quintessential Zeppelin. And by combining the driving intensity of âThe Immigrant Songâ but with layers upon layers of machine-gun riffs thanks to Jimmy Pageâs multiple guitar tracks, itâs one of the songs that earned the band its mighty name.