Another missed day on the Countdown, another two-fer for the Halloween mixtape…
Tonight, we’ve got two from Ms Rachel Brooke, an alternative country artist with a voice like honey.
(“Alternative Country” being the label for country music that, you know, actually sounds like country music, and not the disposable twang-pop Nashville’s churning out these days. Just to make that clear to anybody who’s just here for the spooky, and could give a rat’s ass about music nerd labels. Though of course, if that’s the case, you probably already stopped reading this aside long before now.)
Anyway. Rachel Brooke. Voice like honey. Likes to write story songs, and has a fair few spooky-ass stories under her belt, to boot. Tonight, I’m picking a selection from her album Down in the Barnyard, entitled “The Legend of Morrow Road.” It’s a quiet little ghost story, and it has the added benefit of being based on a real-life folktale. But let’s listen to the song first, before we get into all that…
Forgive the sound quality there. The album track is not, near as I can tell, available on the YouTubes, so I had to go with a live version where the audience didn’t have the common decency to shut up and listen. But, anyway…
As I said above, “The Legend of Morrow Road” is based on a real folktale, and it’s one of my favorite kinds of folk legends: a ghost light. If you’re not familiar, ghost lights are mysterious floating lights that appear at night, usually in secluded rural areas, and often near a road, train tracks, or swamp. People see these things (or say they’ve seen them), and stories grow up around them.
In Algonac, Michigan, the story goes that, sometime in the 1800s, a mother lost her child on secluded Morrow Road, and that her ghost still walks it, looking for her baby. Looking at the place, I can see why somebody might think it could be haunted:
As is usual with these sorts of things, the details of the story change according to the teller. You can read about a good number of variations here: http://www.michigansotherside.com/legends/84-the-legend-of-morrow-road.
The version Rachel Brooke chose for the song is in there, and it’s maybe the most dramatic of the bunch.
What’s even more interesting in the Morrow Road case is how many variations have been reported of the ghostly manifestation itself. Some have claimed to have seen a ghostly woman with bloody hands, others reported hearing a baby crying, other stories insist you have to light a fire… But the ghost lights are the most common.
I like the ghost lights so much because I grew up near a ghost light location myself. I’ll never forget my aunt taking me and my brother out to the lonely stretch of railroad tracks where the light supposedly appears. We didn’t see anything, of course. I think we may have even gone in broad daylight. But I was sufficiently young that it was a thrilling adventure, anyway.
But, wait! I promised you a Rachel Brooke two-fer, didn’t I? Well, in that case… Here she is in a decidedly more upbeat moment, with a rockabilly tinged ditty based on the cheerful notion that the world we live in is nothing but “A Killer’s Dream.”