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13 Halloween Songs to Play on the Ukulele

Kennedi Brown has written fiction under a pen name for years now. She plays the ukulele and writes songs no one will ever hear (hopefully).

Get into the Halloween spirit

Get into the Halloween spirit

Halloween Playlist for the Ukulele

In my opinion, we need more legitimate Halloween carols. At least as many as there are for Christmas, anyway. That's why I've compiled a list of spooky songs to get you in the mood for the season in hopes that maybe one day people will start singing "Halloween carols" too.

These aren't necessarily beginner-level songs, but they're all songs that are playable on the ukulele.

Since there isn't a lot of traditional Halloween music for some reason, you’ll probably notice that many of the songs on this list are folk songs. That’s because a lot of folk songs are about murder, ghosts, the devil, and other spooky things, which makes them perfect to capture a Halloween mood. Also, folk songs tend to be written, or at least widely played, in guitar-friendly keys. Most of the time this translates pretty well to the ukulele, except for when the E chord is involved.

Now that’s scary enough to be a Halloween article all its own…

1. "The Monster Mash"

Artist: Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers

Chords: G, Em, C, D

Admit it, you saw this one coming. "The Monster Mash" is quite possibly the closest thing we have to an actual traditional Halloween carol, and it’s actually pretty easy to play on the ukulele. It sounds fine with a simple D-DU-UD strumming pattern and all the chords are totally beginner appropriate. Bang this one out at your next Halloween party and I can guarantee there’s only a 45 percent chance you’ll be asked to leave!

2. "I Put a Spell on You"

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Chords: Am, B7, Em

This song has been covered countless times, but I think the bluesy twang of the CCR version is perfect for Halloween. I’m a sucker for a haunted woods aesthetic though. It’s my spooky mood of choice, probably because I grew up in Appalachia.

3. "Halloweenhead"

Artist: Ryan Adams

Chords: F, Am, C, G

I like to play this one with a simple DuDu pattern all the way through, but it’s very versatile in terms of strumming patterns. You could skip the "guitar solo" entirely, or just pick around the chord progression. Either way sounds fine, and I find the tune is quite cute on the uke.

4. "Hell"

Artist: Squirrel Nut Zippers

Chords: Dm, A

I love how upbeat and swingy this song sounds. "Hell" puts me in mind of a zombie flapper girl, an aesthetic I totally dig. I get such a vaudeville vibe from it, making it perfect for the uke. Plus there are only two chords, and they're easy ones!

5. "Vampire"

Artist: Antsy Pants

Chords: A, C, D, Dm, G

This is one of the first songs I learned to play on the ukulele. I love Kimya Dawson, and by extension, Antsy Pants. The song is Halloween-themed but lighthearted enough to not sound funny on the ol' Spanish flea.

Yeah, I promise I’ll never call it that again if you never remind me that I did in the first place.

Not that grimdark songs that sound a bit goofy on the ukulele can’t be great. One of the best things about this great little instrument of ours is that sometimes it can surprise us when we play a song that seems ill-suited to its tone.

6. "Number of the Beast"

Artist: Iron Maiden

Chords: C, D, G

You may not be familiar with Zwan's acoustic cover of this Nine Inch Nails Halloween Party classic, but if you’ll give it a listen I think it’s great inspiration for covering the song yourself on a ukulele. There are more chords throughout the solos, but I consider playing that part optional unless you really just want to jam out. If that's the case, the chords in the solo bars aren't hard, either.

7. "The Long Black Veil"

Genre: Traditional Irish folk song

Chords: C, G, F

This is technically an Irish folk song, but I find the atmosphere evoked by the words perfectly creepy enough for Halloween. The ballad takes the point of view of an innocent man hanged for murder speaking from beyond the grave. What’s spookier than that?

Okay, so a lot of things, probably. It doesn’t scream Halloween, but it would fit right in if you plucked over the chords at a Halloween party or while sitting on your porch handing out candy for trick-or-treaters.

8. "Werewolves of London"

Artist: Warren Zevon

Chords: D, C, G

Just like "Monster Mash," I'm sure you saw this one coming, too. You'll find "Werewolves of London" on just about every list artice of Halloween party songs, and it also just so happens to be easy to play.

9. "O, Death"

Genre: Traditional American folk song

Chords: Am, Am7, Em, D, C, G

This song, which you may remember from the video game Until Dawn that was popular a few years back, is from my neck of the woods. They actually sang this one at my grandparents’ church, an old building without plumbing or electricity that even managed to spook me as a kid when I made my mandatory yearly trip up into the mountains with them for Easter Sunday. The older folks in the backwoods of Southwest Virginia have . . . colorful . . . attitudes towards religion, to say the least, and a strange fascination with death. I can recall my older family members turning on the radio to listen to the obituaries with honest-to-God glee in their eyes. It’s enough to turn any kid into a spooky, weird adult.

10. "Bringing Mary Home"

Artist: Red Sovine

Chords: D7, C, G, A7

What would Halloween be without a story (or song) about a hitchhiker who turns out to be a ghost? This one has a nicer ending than most of those tales however, so it isn’t too spooky. There’s just something about the idea of ghosts wandering the roads at night while you’re driving and minding your own business that just freaks me out. I think it has something to do with how you can only see a small halo of light in front of your car where your headlights are shining while the rest of the world is lost in a black void. All of the shapes in the distance are distorted until you drive right up to them and they suddenly come into focus.

11. "Pretty Polly"

Genre: Traditional folk song

Chords: G, D

Ah, the olden days of drifters and riding the rails, also known as the days when you could pretty much kill someone and get away with it just by leaving town and changing your name. "Pretty Polly" is a folk murder ballad about one such drifter killing, though more often than not it was the drifters themselves who were killed. At least if you learn to play this you’ll have something for the folks at your Halloween party who prefer serial killers to ghosts and ghouls.

12. "Bad Moon Rising"

Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Chords: D, A, G

Another CCR song (if you count the other one on this list, which is admittedly just a cover), but another perfect one for Halloween nonetheless. "Bad Moon Rising" always reminded me of a slasher film anyway, though I can't really say why. The image of some masked maniac cutting down teenaged infidels with the song overlayed is just too perfect in my mind.

13. "I Hold Your Hand in Mine"

Artist: Tom Lehrer

Chords: G, Gm, D, B, Em, A, A7

Cannibalism. This song’s just about straight-up cannibalism. But you know what? Bonus points if you can dress up as Hannibal Lecter while preforming it.

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Resources: Chords to All Songs Above

13-halloween-songs-to-play-on-the-ukulele

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