The best songs about ghosts explore the supernatural in all its facets, conjuring up images of apparitions with haunting melodies and singing.
Ghosts and haunted places have captured the imagination of millions of people, and these spirited songs reflect the mystery of the afterlife.
Read on for a complete breakdown of these excellent ghost-themed songs that reflect the unique and personal experiences of their songwriters.
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The 23 Best Songs About Ghosts
Ghost songs can be found in all music genres, from classic rock ‘n’ roll and punk to contemporary pop music hits.
We’ve ensured this playlist represents all these styles and more, selecting music from some of the most iconic singers and bands ever recorded.
With our selection process explained, here’s our playlist of the 23 best songs about ghosts:
23. “Ghost Town” – The Specials
The Specials wrote the excellent song “Ghost Town” as a way to explore the growing deindustrialization of the English political landscape.
“Ghost Town” features lyrics which dive into how these rapid changes led to increased unemployment in the country and offer a stark vision of the future.
It’s a classic track from the Specials, and it’s widely regarded as one of the best ’80s songs of the era.
22. “American Ghost Dance” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Having written one of the best songs about death, the Red Hot Chili Peppers turned their attention to the afterlife with “American Ghost Dance.”
It’s inspired by Anthony Keidis’s mother, who is a descendant of Apache Indians, and the role that the culture of Native Americans played in his life.
“American Ghost Dance” is a more minimalist entry in the band’s extensive discography, with a political message at its core.
21. “Spirits In The Night” – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
“Spirits in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is a classic ghost song that is a welcome addition to any self-respecting Halloween playlist.
The lyrics discuss the spirits of people who were murdered and are incapable of lying at rest but who must roam the earth.
This rock masterpiece was written by Stan Jones and was included in the Manfred Mann Earth Band album Nightingales & Bombers.
20. “The Ghost Inside” – Broken Bells
A real-life ghost encounter by James Mercer’s wife led the band Broken Bells to compose the song “The Ghost Inside.”
After hearing strange noises, she witnessed a spooky shadow and felt a presence that chilled her to the bone and forced her out of the home.
“The Ghost Inside” was released with an awesome music video that featured the actress and model Dani Ramirez in the role of the wife.
19. “Ghost Riders In The Sky” – The Ramrods
Another great song about ghosts written by Sam Jones is “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” which was performed by the Ramrods.
Released in 1958, this popular song tells the tale of the many cowboys who lost their lives in gunfights and returned to roam the earth as ghosts.
The Vaughn Monroe version, released in 1949, is another hugely popular rendition of this much-loved song.
18. “Ghost Of Corporate Future” – Regina Spektor
Regina Spektor used the subject of ghosts and spirits as a metaphor for a quickly changing modern society with a song called “Ghosts of Corporate Future.”
In this song, the lyrics discuss a businessman as he travels on the New York subway and receives words of wisdom from the narrator.
With its political message, “Ghosts of Corporate Future” shares the sentiment of the best songs about freedom and the desire for liberation.
17. “The Ghost On The Shore” – Lord Huron
Lord Huron went back to basics with the song “The Ghost on the Shore,” which is firmly in the tradition of classic ghost ballads.
The narrator sings about a haunted lake where a drowned man transforms into a ghost but refuses to acknowledge his death.
Lord Huron released “The Ghost on the Shore” as part of the 2012 album Lonesome Dreams, the first long play from the LA-based band.
16. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
“Dead Man’s Party” might have a rather sinister name, but it’s one of the more upbeat songs about ghosts that play well on the dance floor.
Released in 1985, “Dead Man’s Party” is a song about a man who holds a huge party to commemorate his deceased friends.
It’s one of the most popular songs played at Halloween parties that is considerably more fun than its name implies.
15. “Jenny Of Oldstones” – Florence + The Machine
Florence and the Machine’s “Jenny of Oldstones” has a style that conjures images of an ancient haunted house built centuries ago.
The vocals are suitably haunting, with the lyrics, “Jenny would dance with her ghosts, the ones she had lost and the ones she had found.”
“Jenny of Oldstones” was included on the famous soundtrack to the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones, where it was performed by the character Podrick.
14. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker, Jr.
“Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr. needs little introduction, and it’s among the most popular songs that explore all things supernatural.
As you can probably guess, it was the main song from the hit 1980s classic movie Ghostbusters and was equally successful in the charts.
“Ghostbusters” dominated the Billboard Hot 100 charts for several weeks and was the most successful release Ray Parker ever recorded.
13. “The Ghost In You” – The Psychedelic Furs
Released in 1984 on the album Mirror Moves, “The Ghost in You” is a poetic piece of music about the ghost of a woman who refuses to move on.
Cowritten by vocalist Richard Butler and his brother, it’s a lament about lost friends and relatives and the ubiquitous nature of hauntings.
“The Ghost in You” was one of only a handful of chart hits for the Psychedelic Furs, who also included the song “Pretty In Pink.”
12. “Give Up The Ghost” – Radiohead
Radiohead dug deep into the folkloric past with their song “Give Up the Ghost” and used it to reflect on the passing of the 20th century.
The song features the recurring lyrics “Don’t haunt me” running throughout, along with the band’s trademark complex instrumentation.
“Give Up the Ghost” was released on the Radiohead album The King of Limbs in 2011, which takes its name from the oldest tree in Europe.
11. “Happy Phantom” – Tori Amos
Released in 1992 on her album Little Earthquakes, the song “Happy Phantom” was something of a creative exorcism for the singer following the rejection of her first album.
“So if I die today, I’ll be the happy phantom, and I’ll go wearin’ my naughties like a jewel,” the lyrics sing, continuing, “They’ll be my ticket to the universal opera.”
This song made the cut of the second version of her debut album, which went on to become regarded by many as one of the best albums ever recorded.
10. “Ghosts” – Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson explores the experiences of a ghost bound together after death to the love of their life in his song “Ghost.”
One of his less-known songs, “Ghost,” retains his unique vocal range and knack for writing catchy music that draws in the listener.
It’s an impressive addition to the impressive discography Michael Jackson left behind, which includes one of the best karaoke songs of all time, “Billie Jean.”
9. “Ghost Dancing” – Simple Minds
Simple Minds famously performed this great song about ghosts at the Live Aid concert in 1985 in front of tens of thousands of people.
“Ghost Dancing” uses religious symbolism to great effect, with a poetic lyricism that leaves things open to interpretation.
It was also released on the Simple Minds album Once Upon a Time, the seventh studio album from the iconic Scottish band.
8. “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” – Bruce Springsteen
“The Ghost of Tom Joad” by Bruce Springsteen takes the character from the novel The Grapes of Wrath as its source of inspiration.
As you may expect from a song inspired by the work of John Steinbeck, it’s a song that explores political themes of solidarity and respect.
Bruce Springsteen has written some of the best songs of all time, and while “The Ghost of Tom Joad” isn’t as well-known, it’s still a great addition to his work.
7. “Pet Sematary” – Ramones
The classic Stephen King novel Pet Sematary has inspired television shows and movies, as well as this great rock song from the Ramones.
Released in 1989, “Pet Sematary” is the perfect song for a Halloween party, and it featured an official video straight out of a classic horror movie.
The music video takes place in an abandoned cemetery of a ghost town to bring an enhanced aura of the supernatural to its production.
6. “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” – Gordon Lightfoot
Gordon Lightfoot takes a historical perspective on ghosts and the supernatural with his song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.”
This excellent song tells the story of the dangerous trade routes traversed by hardy sailors as they navigated their way around Cape Horn.
It’s one of the countless songs about ghosts that explore the rich and vibrant history of hauntings and apparitions.
5. “Haunted” – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift’s “Haunted” uses ghosts in a metaphorical sense to represent a former lover, in this case, her ex-boyfriend Taylor Lautner.
In this song, his presence lingers around her even after they’ve split up and gives her the feeling she’s being stalked by an apparition.
It’s another awesome entry in Taylor Swift’s discography, which includes many Grammy Award wins and nominations.
4. “Ghost Riders In The Sky” – Johnny Cash
“Ghost Riders in the Sky” was originally written by Stan Jones in 1948, and it recounts a group of cowboys being chased by the Devil.
Johnny Cash’s version of the same name delivers his renowned musicianship and vocal style as he details the cowboy’s efforts to escape a fate worse than death.
It was released on the 1979 Johnny Cash album Silver, which also featured the tracks “Bull Rider” and “I’ll Say It’s True.”
3. “Ghost Song” – The Doors
The aptly titled track “Ghost Song” by the Doors was written by frontman Jim Morrison following the death of a dear friend.
A hugely successful Doors song among fans of the band, “Ghost Song,” was recorded in 1970 for their final album, An American Prayer.
While not as popular as their famous song about fire, “Light My Fire,” it’s nevertheless a worthy addition to their impressive discography.
2. “Misguided Ghosts” – Paramore
Paramore’s song “Misguided Ghosts” is another wonderful song that takes the idea of ghosts as a metaphor for aspects of human nature.
In this song, vocalist Hayley Williams sings about her best friend, who took her own life at a young age.
Paramore released “Misguided Ghosts” on the third studio album Brand New Eyes in 2009, picking up Kerrang and Teen Choice award nominations.
1. “Ghosts That We Knew” – Mumford & Sons
We’re rounding up this playlist of the best songs about ghosts with “Ghosts That We Knew” by the band Mumford & Sons.
This song was played widely on their many tours and explores the heartbreaking tale of a relationship that slowly deteriorates over time.
It’s a very different song from Mumford & Sons’ great song about waiting, “I Will Wait,” with a beautiful if somewhat melancholy, melody.
We hope you’ve found plenty of inspiration from this playlist for when you next put together a selection of ghost-themed songs for Halloween time.
The supernatural has been a source of inspiration for many singers and bands across all kinds of genres, from pop chart-toppers to classic folk songs.
Whether it’s a tune about a personal encounter with a ghost or one that uses apparitions as metaphors, these ghost songs will give you the chills.
What’s the best song about ghosts, in your opinion? Leave a comment below.
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