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Haunted House: rock'n'roll novelty through the years
October 26, 2012 8:18 PM   Subscribe

I just moved into my new house today1, moving was hard but I got squared away2. When bells starting rings and chains rattled loud,3 I knew I'd moved in a haunted house4. Still I made up my mind to stay,5 nothing was a-gonna drive me away.6 When I seen something that give me the creeps,7 had one big eye and two big feet.8

1 Johnny Fuller, 1958, the first recording of Bob Geddin's composition.
2 (Jumpin') Gene Simmons, 1964, a friend (of sorts) to Elvis Presley and Domingo Samudio, aka Sam the Sham, and the source of Chaim Witz's stage name.
3 Sam the Sham, 1964, his first hit before Wooly Bully.
4 Jerry Lee Lewis, 1973; also: performed live on Halloween night, 1974
5 Bruce Springsteen, Oct. 31, 1980, live audience recording following Bruce's entrance on stage in a coffin
6 John Anderson, 1983, live televised performance
7 Antiseen, 1991
8 John Fogerty, 2009, live video

Bonus snippet: zydeco version, sung in French by Lawrence "Black" Ardoin
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Here's how I've always interpreted this song -- the (black) protagonist has bought a house in a sundown town and is being harassed by different kinds of ghosts altogether. And though they say "don't be here when the morning comes," he remains defiant:
Say yes I'll be here when the morning comes
I'll be right here now, I ain't gonna run
I bought this house now I am boss
Ain't no haint's gonna run me off.
(For more on hidden racial themes in oldies songs, ask me about Down in the Boondocks.)
posted by modernserf at 9:03 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ahh, that brings back fond memories of the band I was in back in the 90's, JP and the Mojo Workers...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:20 PM on October 26, 2012

modernserf, I hadn't thought about that. I didn't know Geddis' ethnicity, but from this picture, it seems he could have written it from that perspective. If that's the original idea behind the song, it's interesting that only the first artist to record the song and Lawrence Ardion were black, where the other artists who have recorded the song are white.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:19 AM on October 27, 2012

Talk about different times, when few pro musicians were known about outside of their home region. And some eccentric DJ or eccentric mad scientist with his tape recorder had the power to change your life.

All About Blues Music has a little more about Geddins, (photo) who wrote and arranged many tunes and +produced many artists, e.g. at that time Jimmy McCracklin, Lowell Fulson, and Sugar Pie DeSanto.
posted by Twang at 7:30 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

If I may, let me just throw in Roy Buchanan's version as well. Great Telecaster licks galore.
posted by DeWalt_Russ at 8:14 AM on October 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey modernserf, what's the story with "Down in the Boondocks"?
posted by marsha56 at 10:13 AM on October 27, 2012

Got a few hours to spare? check this Web 1.0 45rpm world tour for r&b/soul/reggae/ska/r&b/doowop/roots/funk/dub collectors only.

"I say: live it or live with it!"
posted by Twang at 6:15 PM on October 27, 2012


You omitted Hasil Adkins in what is almost certainly the only version recorded using chicken drums.
posted by Herodios at 6:06 AM on October 28, 2012

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