Top 10 Wolf Songs
A chilling howl. A flash of teeth. The scent of damp fur. Instilled in us is a wonder about wolves. They haunt us in movies, books, and even the news. Shrouded in mystery, legend, shamanism, and fear, wolves are possibly the most iconic animals alive.
When they are hungry, they kill. When they are unhappy, they tussle. When they delight, they bound together in a rapturous, growling group. Who wouldn't admire their freedom and lifestyle?
From wolves sprouted stories of werewolves—even fiercer and viler than their counterparts. In them, as with any humanistic animal, is a feral sexuality that grips our attention with a cold sweated intent.
Let's face it, wolves are pretty badass.
It is no wonder why they are the subject of songs. As a diehard fan of wolf-related music, I know there is a small following of Twilighters, werewolf-lovers, and new-agey wolf obsessers who may enjoy a few of the songs I have compiled below. But you won't find any "Hungry Like the Wolf" train wrecks here—these are strictly good wolf songs, that is, songs that I would, and do, willingly listen to because of their sound, lyrics, and emotion.
#10. Li'l Red Riding Hood—Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs
Starting with a howl and ending with the baaahs of an innocent sheep led astray, this song is so old, but oh-so-good. Woven around Charles Perrault's classic tale of the same name, Sam the Sham plays on the double meaning of the word "wolf" to depict a man with ulterior sexual motives—which is, at its core, what the original fairy tale was indeed about. This song effectively strips away the metaphorical and presents the relationship between the animal and the man without disguise. It is perhaps one of the first songs that links the sexual predation of a man to the baleful cunning of the wolf. Like the fable, this song is a classic.
"I'll try to keep satisfied just to walk close by your side. Maybe you'll see things my way before we get to Grandma's place."
#9. Werewolves of London—Warren Zevon
A Halloween music mix must-have, Mr. Zevon paints the picture of werewolves from classic films such as The Wolfman and, of course, Werewolf in London, with multiple references to the films and actors. This song is upbeat and funny, but tells the tale of some pretty horrendous things. What other song can you think of where you hear about little old ladies dying sung with a tongue-in-cheek tone? Werewolves can't be that bad, apparently they have a hankering for Chinese food just like the rest of us.
"Little old lady got mutilated last night.... Werewolves of London again!"
#8. Furr—Blitzen Trapper
Folksy and light-heated, this song is entertaining because it tells the story of a young man and his growth into maturity. Like all boys, he becomes enamored with and carried away by the carefree lifestyle of a bachelor, not unlike the spirited lifestyle of young wolves bashing around in the wilds. But, as is the end of many tales, the thing that quells his undomesticated desires is none other than a simple beauty, a girl. The song vocalizes a few thoughts that I imagine most men might repeat on nights filled with nostalgic thoughts of their youth long past. It's a well-meaning song, and it makes me smile.
"For my flesh had turned to fur, and my thoughts, they surely were turned to instinct and obedience to God."
#7. Howl—Florence and the Machine
For those of us who love Florence and the Machine, this girl's voice can do no wrong. She could be singing about bathtubs and it would still be the most beautiful song we've ever heard. "Howl" does not disappoint. After all, what could be more wonderful than Florence Welch belting it out at the top of her lungs about none other than the ever-captivating wolf? The wolf is symbolic of the fearsome manner with which love takes us, tricks us, and moves us, because the wolf embodies unabashed freedom, power, and sexuality.
"Screaming in the dark I howl when we're apart.... Drag my teeth across your chest and taste your beating heart."
#6. A Wolf at the Door—Radiohead
What can I say? This is Radiohead. But unlike the majority of their creations (full of moaning, wailing, and unintelligible gibberish), this song has clarity and a dusky grimness about it that draws my attention and grips it firmly. It's got a weird beat and a combination of instruments that convey the sickening, dizzy atmosphere of being hunted by a predator. The wolf plays many roles in culture and especially in art, but in this song it takes up its oldest role as villain. To keep the wolf from your door is to keep out certain evil, one that perpetually claws and endlessly takes, with no intention of being satisfied.
"...tells me all the ways that he's gonna mess me up, steal all my children if I don't pay the ransom..."
#5. Werewolf—Cat Power
This isn't the original version of the song, but I find Cat Power's cover of this song more poignant, intimate, and sincere than Michael Hurley's. Her voice is perfectly suited to the words she sings, and the effect is altogether hallucinatory. With this one, we are given a strangely tender view of the werewolf in all his tormented sadness, for he is a beast that kills what he loves most. The delicate relationship between animal and human is one that is frequently documented in art and history. After all, are we not all animals under our human skin?
"For the werewolf, the werewolf has sympathy. For the werewolf, somebody like you and me."
#4. Fresh Blood—Eels
This song is unique on this list due to the fact that it does not actually mention wolves, per se. However, the Eels have said this song is about a werewolf and his plight and the album it was released on was titled Hombre Lobo (Spanish for "werewolf"). There are few other animals out there that howl and lust for fresh blood, both of which are mentioned in the lyrics. The electronic instruments and noises in this piece evoke the image of a city-bound werewolf crawling the streets of some rainy metropolis, searching for the thing that all werewolves crave. I have been a fan of the Eels since I saw Shrek in 2001, but this song is definitely my favorite of theirs. E's howling is perfect throughout, and it's that chilling echo that defines the whole song.
"I'm more alone than I've ever been, help me out of the shape I'm in. After the fires, before the flood, my sweet baby I need fresh blood."
One of my all time favorite songs, "Wolves" by the little-known group Phosphorescent, presents a chilling hymn that beats softly yet engages you with almost wounded fervor. The ukelele produces a unique sound that does not typically grace folk music, and Mathew Houck's voice is a lovely balance of exhaustion and ardor. Like any of us who have been haunted by something we cannot seem to shake, "Wolves" plays to that feeling we all know: unhealthy infatuation.
"They tumble and fight and they're beautiful. On the hilltops at night, they are beautiful."
#2. The Wolf—Fever Ray
Released alongside the movie Red Riding Hood, this title made Fever Ray known to younger generations almost overnight. This song has bite, with sinister bass lines and eerie noises to match the chilling voice that creeps and cries. "Feverish" is not a pun when I use this word to describe this song, it's in its core, which is every bit as raucous and wild as a wolf overcome by the hunt. With howls that punctuate as the chorus, it is no wonder the directors of Red Riding Hood chose this musician for the soundtrack. Fever Ray has one great howl.
"Eyes black, big paws, and its poison and its blood. And big fire, big burn. Into the ashes and no return."
#1. Wolf Like Me—TV and the Radio
Another one of my all-time favorite songs, "Wolf Like Me" needs little explanation for the adult. Its rhythm is as desperate as the story its lyrics suggest. Feral, untamed, and sexy, this song is not to be controlled, like a beast that is swept up by the heat of its primitive desires. This is the essence of a werewolf and I find it alluring in many different aspects. The lyrics are unsurpassed, and if ever there was a list of songs to make wild crazy love to, this would be on it!
"Feel me, completer, down to my core. Open my heart and let it bleed onto yours. Feeding on fever, down all fours. Show you what all that howl is for."
Restricted to only ten songs, I unfortunately had to leave a few out of the official favorites list, but here are some other exceptional wolf-related songs that you might also fancy. Howls and growls, my friends.