Many musicians and songwriters have talked about ghosts in their music. If the supernatural and the paranormal capture your imagination, this is the list you need. Here you will find songs about ethereal beings, death, haunted houses, and other spooky topics. Some songs will send chills down your spine while others will leave you with a light-hearted and humorous feel.
Songs have the power to make us think about things that we normally don’t consider when it comes to ghostly phenomena. They also give us some perspective on how people in the past have dealt with death and what role music has played in this process. Below is a list of 20 songs about ghosts that will hopefully get your mental cogs turning towards all things supernatural.
- 1. “Misguided Ghosts” by Paramore
- 2. “Ghost Song” by The Doors
- 3. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
- 4. “The Ghost in You” by The Psychedelic Furs
- 5. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by The Ramrods
- 6. “Ghost” by Michael Jackson
- 7. “Ghost Town” by The Specials
- 8. “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?” by Taking Back Sunday
- 9. “The Ghost Inside” by Broken Bells
- 10. “Ghost Dancing” by Simple Minds
- 11. “Spirits in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
- 12. “Haunted” by Taylor Swift
- 13. “Give Up the Ghost” by Radiohead
- 14. “Ghost of Corporate Future” by Regina Spektor
- 15. “The Ghost on the Shore” by Lord Huron
- 16. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen
- 17. “The Ghosts That We Knew” by Mumford & Sons
- 18. “American Ghost Dance” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
- 19. “Ghost of Me” by Daughtry
1. “Misguided Ghosts” by Paramore
Misguided Ghosts is about how someone deals with pain and guilt after making a mistake. The song is featured on Paramore’s 2009 self-titled album. It is inspired by vocalist Hayley Williams’ best friend, who committed suicide when she was 13 years old.
She was feeling guilty for his death because they weren’t speaking at the time of his passing, which led her to write this song. The video features different people shaking their heads as if to say no while one person nods yes, indicating that everyone has their troubles.
2. “Ghost Song” by The Doors
Jim Morrison wrote this song about a friend of his who had died. Apparently, the family did not want him to record it. It is said that ever since he first sang the song, he saw a pair of ghostly blue eyes watching him.
Consequently, many people believe that performing it brings bad luck and will cause misfortune. Despite the rumors, the song itself is a fan favorite and has been covered more times than any other Doors song.
3. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson released this iconic Halloween-themed single in 1984 on his album of the same name. In 2009, VH1 named it as one of their greatest songs, as well as Rolling Stone in 2004.
The music video itself has become a cult classic and was the first music video to have a horror theme. The song is about a terrible terrible night and you know something ominous is about to happen. The song utilizes sounds of the storm, thunder, and footsteps to create an eerie vibe.
4. “The Ghost in You” by The Psychedelic Furs
This song is from their 1984 album Mirror Moves. It’s about how all people are haunted by ghosts, either of someone who is gone or memories. In an interview on Noisey, lead singer Richard Butler said that he believes everyone sees ghosts.
These ghosts can stay around for years until you finally hear them out and move on from past problems. You will find yourself looking for ghosts after playing this song.
5. “Ghost Riders in the Sky” by The Ramrods
Originally written by Stan Jones, this song has been covered many times throughout history. However, it was The Ramrods in 1958 that made it popular. It tells the story of cowboys who died in gunfights and now ride through the sky with dead coyotes and rattlesnakes.
6. “Ghost” by Michael Jackson
The song is about a spirit who has been tied to someone they used to love. However, these people do not move on after death but rather stick around to touch or breathe but never say anything.
The music video is filled with religious symbolism, such as burning pentagrams and churches. According to M.J., this song was influenced by his own real-life experiences with ghosts.
He claims that when he was four or five years old, he saw a vision of his future self. It was an older version of himself singing this song to him.
7. “Ghost Town” by The Specials
This song is about how a town has become deserted after a nuclear war. There are no people left at all, and the buildings are empty except for the ghosts that still walk around. Members of The Specials wanted to talk about the devastating effects of war and used their music to communicate a powerful message – if we keep fighting each other, our world will end up like the setting in the music video.
8. “What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?” by Taking Back Sunday
TBS has been well known for its emo/punk rock style since its self-titled 2002 album. This song has a music video featuring the band walking around an old haunted mansion as well as walking through town on Halloween night. They question what it feels like to be a ghost and if ghosts feel anything at all.
9. “The Ghost Inside” by Broken Bells
This song’s lyrics are inspired by an actual ghost story involving the band’s lead vocalist James Mercer’s wife. According to her, she had heard strange noises coming from their cellar and went down to check it out.
She was overcome with terror after seeing a shadow of something and ran back up. She believed that there was some sort of presence down there, and it scared her enough to make her leave the house for days.
The music video is actually based on this story with actress/model Dania Ramirez playing the wife. It’s loosely based on the horror movie The Changeling from 1980.
10. “Ghost Dancing” by Simple Minds
This song is another one that was inspired by James’ wife. She had been dancing when she claimed something had walked through her but also disappeared at the same time. This led to the creation of the lyrics, which describe how it feels to be haunted.
11. “Spirits in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
A classic penned by Stan Jones, this song tells about ghosts who haunt people during the night. The ghosts are spirits of those who were wronged and unable to rest due to their murderer still being alive. According to Stan, it’s very rare for a song about this topic to become popular.
12. “Haunted” by Taylor Swift
Many speculate that this is about Taylor Lautner, her ex-boyfriend, and her high school sweetheart. Apparently around the time they broke up, she began thinking she saw him everywhere or felt like someone was following her.
The music video seems to be about a relationship gone bad. You can see two Taylors in it: one good and one evil. Some believe that the ghost represents her actual self while the other Taylor is how she sees herself during the bad times.
13. “Give Up the Ghost” by Radiohead
This is a song about a ghost that haunts it’s loved ones and wants them back even though they cannot see or hear him. He wants to get their attention so bad that he’s willing to get violent if it means they will not ignore him anymore.
The lyrics were inspired by a snippet of an interview with Jeremy Dyson, co-creator of the horror TV show “The League of Gentlemen”. Apparently, there was a scene in which two characters heard noises and found bloodstains on the floor.
They hear noises again and investigate only to discover that all the furniture has been smashed up. When they go outside, everything is fixed as if nothing happened at all. This scene haunted Thom Yorke so much that he wrote a song about it.
14. “Ghost of Corporate Future” by Regina Spektor
This song is a political commentary on greed, materialism, and how it will affect future generations. It’s seen as a ghost because it’s something that has yet to pass and could potentially change our world for better or worse.
The lyrics also mention a president who writes hit songs about getting hit in the face. Some music enthusiasts speculate that this lyric is actually referring to Bush, who wrote a song called “Why Don’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” which was released in October 2008.
15. “The Ghost on the Shore” by Lord Huron
This song is about two lovers who travel together across the sea. The man drowns and becomes a ghost, but his lover refuses to believe that he’s dead.
Instead, she insists that they’re still together no matter what others say. It’s speculated that this is based on a personal experience that Ben Schneider had when he was younger.
He was walking along the shore with his girlfriend when they saw someone walking towards them in the fog. It turned out that it was actually another couple walking their dog, but it haunted him because he believed that it was actually the ghost of his grandfather who had been dead for several years.
16. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen
This song is based on the John Steinbeck novel “The Grapes of Wrath” and/or the 1939 film adaptation about poor people during the Great Depression. While neither story has actual ghosts in them, this version features a homeless family who is haunted because they feel like they have no future to look forward to.
The song alludes to America’s messed up economic system that is keeping them down rather than any supernatural being. It also refers to how Pauline in The Grapes of Wrath was haunted by her past life even though she tried really hard to let go of it.
17. “The Ghosts That We Knew” by Mumford & Sons
This is a pretty straightforward song about something from the past which haunts the singers even though they have no idea what it is. It has been described as being about “dealing with the demons of a previous relationship”.
Some people believe the song is about a person battling depression and their significant other assuring them of being by their side through it all. However, some people believe that there are some political undertones to the song. Since this was written around the same time that Obama became President, many people compared it to his campaign slogan “Forward”.
18. “American Ghost Dance” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
This song has no actual ghost in it, but it’s still considered a haunting song. It’s about the spirit of Native Americans who lost their homes and went extinct during the European colonization of America.
The lyrics claim that they will rise up again even though most people assume that they’re dead and gone forever. This includes Anthony Kiedis himself because he had never actually visited any Native American reservations before writing this song. He only knew what he read about them.
19. “Ghost of Me” by Daughtry
This is a straightforward song about someone trying to get over an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. When the relationship ends, they feel like there’s nothing left because they can no longer spend time with their ex.
The thought of running into their ex again someday haunts them. They feel it would be even worse if this encounter happened because the feelings are still there, but it’s “nothing at all”. The song ends with the narrator hoping that they never see their ex again so they can start healing.
The songs listed above are perfect to give you the scares. They can also go on your Halloween music list if you want to create the eerie effect. Put the music on and get ready for the chills!