Why Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers & Smashing Pumpkins Are Haunted By Ghosts

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Edited by Brett Buchanan

I was afraid this would happen. Apparently, Alternative Nation has become haunted by a number of ghosts. These ghosts are communicating us in the form of the top 10 “ghostly” alternative rock songs for Halloween.

We’ll never know if there’s such a thing as ghosts. Maybe they are real, or maybe they’re just the form of our memory of the dead. So this Halloween, let’s appreciate them along with our favorite alternative bands that may have had a ghostly musical encounters themselves…


10) Live-Ghost (Secret Samadhi)
“Everybody has a ghost, everybody has a ghost who sings like you do, yours is not like mine, but that’s alright, keep it up” explains Ed Kowalyck on this Secret Samadhi single. The song goes on to explain how people are led astray from their goals by varying obstacles. The best drama arrives in the darkly whisper-quiet mid-section of the song.


9) Taking Back Sunday-What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost? (Louder Now)
This driving rocker is a vehicle for vocalist Adam Lazarra to admit he speaks to ghosts.


8) Ghost Ship-Blur (The Magic Whip)
This supposed ‘ghost ship driving my heart in Hong Kong’ has a smooth, floaty reggae-funk sound that carries it. Damon Albarn is a haunted victim once he gets to his destination: “I’m feeling out of my body here, what can I do?” he asks as he floats off into the distance.


7) Red Hot Chili Peppers-American Ghost Dance
Looks like Anthony Kiedis is alternative rock’s oldest ghost. As a Native American who’s passed on, he’s back to “dance on the grave of my race that died when they should have been saved, American ghost dance.”


6) The White Stripes-Walking with a Ghost
The axe-chop rhythm gets embedded deep into listeners’ minds on this Tegan and Sara cover from the Stripes’ 2005 Walking with a Ghost EP. Jack White shares one of his personal hobbies- walking with ghosts.


5) Smashing Pumpkins-Glass and the Ghost Children (MACHINA)
The final epic from the first era of the Pumpkins, Billy Corgan provides an almost 10-minute narrative about ‘labs cooking up silver ghosts’ and a woman who ‘counts the spiders as they crawl of inside her.’


4) My Chemical Romance-The Ghost of You (Cheers of Sweet Revenge)
One of the biggest hits of 2005, the lyrics seem to be about the singer who loses his girlfriend in war, a reversal of the usual recurring theme of the man dying in war. “If I died, we’d be together”.


3) Pearl Jam-Ghost (Riot Act)
Eddie Vedder thinks he’s a ghost on this underrated rocker from Riot Act, and one that sees the same world problems he did when he was on Earth. “Working for something that we can never hold, a place in the clouds/your place to hide/I’m flying away away.”


2) Headful of Ghosts-Bush (Golden State)
One of Bush’s best post-millenium songs, Gavin Rossdale is truly tormented by ghosts on this track, even thinking he may be a ghost himself- “where is my head, where are my bones, can you save me from myself? Ghost Man!” he cries out in agonizing pleas.


1) Rage Against the Machine-The Ghost of Tom Joad (single, Renegades)
One of the best cover songs of the 1990’s, this Bruce Springsteen track in RATM’s hands became a supernatural monster with amazing drama and throttling riffs. “Wherever you see a cop beating a guy/wherever a hungry newborn baby cries/wherever there’s a fight of blood and hatred in the air/look for me, I’ll be there,” exclaims Tom Joad through Zack de la Rocha’s vocal. At the finish of the song, Zack discovers he’s “sitting in the campfire light, with the ghost of Tom Joad.”

Ghosts bubbling under are Deftones’ cover ‘Ghosts,’ RATM’s ‘Born As Ghosts,’ and Bush’s ‘Ghost’. Honorary mention to our phantom friends in Alice in Chains’ “Phantom Limb,” and Deftones’ “Phantom Bride,”- we didn’t forget you.

So now you know which alternative rockers have been haunted and which are ghosts, but mum’s the word or we may be the next victims. Happy Halloween!

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