Since I started my virtual mixtape last night with the first Halloween song I ever heard, I thought it might be nice to follow that up tonight with the my newest favorite. Granted, the package here might not look like much of a great Halloween experience…
…but I assure you, The Mountain Goats’ Beat the Champ album still offers up one pretty great Halloweenie tune. As the cover might imply, this is an album about professional wrestling. Or at least, about the wrestling Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle grew up watching in the Southwest Territory back in the 70s. If you are, or ever were, a wrestling fan, it’s great stuff. A love letter to the business from one of the best songwriters of the era. There are songs here written from the fan’s perspective, but also quite a few from the perspective of the wrestlers themselves.
That’s the case with the song I’m sharing tonight: “Werewolf Gimmick.” In backstage pro wrestling terminology, a gimmick is the character a wrestler portrays in the ring. The best gimmicks, they say, are the workers’ real personalities turned up to 11. Not everyone’s that lucky, however. Some people wind up saddled with terrible characters that they have to go out and sell to the audience. Sometimes, they pull it off. And sometimes, they start “living the gimmick,” getting so caught up in the ring persona that they start believing it. They become it, turning into… well… a kind of monster. That’s what’s going on here.
Not quite the ooky-spooky extravaganza some of the songs I’ll be sharing this month are. But Halloweenie nonetheless. There’s the werewolf thing, of course, but also that sense of uncontrollable insanity, the terrifying and just slightly ridiculous tragedy of a man giving in to the beast. All set to a driving beat that makes me feel a little wild myself. Ferocious.