The Doors: “The End”Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock
Clocking in at over 11 minutes, this dark, majestic odyssey of a song is regarded by many as The Doors’ masterpiece. In 1979 (almost 10 years after composer Jim Morrison died under mysterious circumstances) it rose to still greater fame when it was used in the opening credits of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now—a frightening film that suited the song perfectly. With hypnotically chanted lyrics (“lost in a Roman wilderness of pain/and all the children are insane”) and evocative poetry (“the killer awoke before dawn/he put his boots on/”) the song’s meaning is both allegorical and shrouded. It could be about anything, any event in time, and anybody—and that’s what makes it so chilling. If you want more spooky music inspiration, check out the soundtracks on the 31 scariest movies of all time.
Listen to “The End.”
Elton John: “Madman Across the Water”Emma Kapotes/Rd.com, iStock
The 1971 album Madman Across the Water is best known for delivering beloved Elton John/Bernie Taupin classics like “Tiny Dancer” and “Levon.” But the record’s title track is a sinister departure from Elton’s hits. Many have seen the song as a somber political allegory; another interpretation is that it’s a story told from the POV of someone who’s been institutionalized. The tune’s nightmarish imagery takes the listener on a visceral ride, leaving the protagonist standing on the shore staring at “a boat on the reef with a broken back,” and standing in a high tower, about to jump out, while musing “the ground’s a long way down but I need more.”
Listen to “Madman Across the Water.”