Who says autumn is the only time we’re allowed to feel gloomy? Summer isn’t always beach parties and Katy Perry’s teenage dream. Sometimes, even in the brightest months, we’re haunted. Just in case you get a touch of the summertime blues, here’s a playlist guaranteed to fit your moodiest moods. It’s also a perfect companion to my upcoming book Rooms, about a family haunted by their pasts… and the ghosts in the walls.
Click on the link to have a listen, and don’t forget to check out Rooms on Goodreads!
Far From Any Road - The Handsome Family
Yes, the theme song from True Detective (how spooky was that season finale?). This song blends sunny acoustic guitar strums and terrifyingly beautiful lyrics to make the perfect summer horror song. “The looming shadows danced/I fell down to the thorny brush and felt a trembling hand.” Creepy!
Lilac wine, “sweet and heady, like my love” sounds like the perfect summer cocktail—just don’t trust the visions that may result. (Fun Fact: Miley also does a great, blessedly twerk-free, version of this song)
Tennesse - Gillian Welch
The story of a girl haunted by her past and the people who tell her that she’s no good. Tragic and beautiful.
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. - Sufjan Stevens
Probably the most gorgeous song ever written about a terrifying serial killer. (I start crying every time I hear the line “they were boys/with their cars/summer jobs/oh my god.”)
All That You Have is Your Soul - Tracy Chapman
A reminder that everything can be lost, except that special thing that makes you, you.
Astral Weeks - Van Morrison
I’m not going to pretend that I exactly know what this song is about, but listening to it has a romantic, almost hallucinogenic quality that makes me think of dreaming on the beach. “From the far side of the ocean/If I put the wheels in motion/And I stand with my arms behind me/And I’m pushing on the door/Could you find me?”
Simple Twist of Fate - Bob Dylan
Within the confines of this song, Dylan spins an entire tragic—and tragically inevitable—love story.
If I Didn’t Know Better - The Civil Wars
The woman in this song is haunted by an attraction she knows is wrong. “If I didn’t know better…” she sings, “but damn it, I do.” Sigh. Don’t we all, sister?
Chicago - Sufjan Stevens
This song always makes me think of crowding into a van with friends for a quintessential summer road-trip. The most powerful part of the song, however, is final refrain where Stevens repeats over and over again that he’s made “a lot of mistakes.”
Go Slow - HAIM
Breakups can make you feel totally crazy. Sometimes it’s almost like the ghost of your relationship is living inside your head, forcing you to re-live the highs and lows over and over again. In this song, Haim nails that feeling.
Haunted - Beyoncé
You KNOW I’m not going to make a summer playlist without ANY Beyoncé! Definitely one of the more experimental songs off the BEYONCE album, it look me a long time to warm up to this song. In the end, I was totally won over by the moody ambiance, and chilling lyrics. “I know if I’m haunting you/You must be haunting me”