Perhaps you were sitting around wondering who is the spookiest sounding musical act of the current era. You’ve been wracking (or racking? Neither look right.) your brain about whether it’s Rob Zombie or some death metal band. I would like to nominate, as an outside, long-shot contender, the Del McCoury Band.
Tom Piazza likes to explain bluegrass as the jazz of country, the place where talented musicians go to stretch convention. There’s a lot about that comparison that I like. But I would say that bluegrass is also country’s creepy attic, where winds rattle the windows and get in through the eaves. You don’t, for instance, hear a lot of country artists still singing murder ballads. It’d be a little strange to go to a bluegrass concert and not have one song death.
The Del McCoury Band has a couple of straight up scary songs. If you want to sob for, like, seven days–and I’m not judging you. Maybe you have tear constipation or something–they do a great cover of 1952 Vincent Black Lightning, a song up there for me with Puff the Magic Dragon in its ability to rip my heart out fresh every damn time.
They also have the delicious It’s Just the Night, which is lovely with the mandolin and fiddle just creeping it right the fuck up.
But I think the song that kind of gets them at their creepiest is My Love Will Not Change.
It’s not that the song is inherently creepy. All creepiness is invoked solely by the instruments (counting their voices as an instrument). I posit that, even humming the song, it would be somewhat creepy. Maybe it’s the driving relentlessness of it. Maybe it’s Del’s old-school voice that sounds like you could hear it down in the holler when he was up on the ridge. I don’t know. I just know that, when I realized I was singing this morning, this is the song I was singing.