That’s a killer song!

As we have proved here on the Black Jacket Blog, songs can be about just about anything. 

Even killers.

And it being October with Halloween and all that, here is a little list of songs about…..

 serial killers.


Warren Zevon, “Excitable Boy”

From Zevon’s 1978 macabre album of the same name, “Excitable Boy” tells the story of a boy who takes some poor soul named Suzie to the junior prom before killing her — possibly to make her into a pot roast — and then digging up her body ten years later to make a cage out of her bones. And I thought my prom sucked.


The Beatles, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”

 John Lennon reportedly hated this song and initially refused to record any part of it, but Paul McCartney has defended the bouncy but murderous “Maxwell Silver Hammer” by saying, “If it’s good enough to take to your psychiatrist, it’s good enough to make a song of.” In the famously twisted tune, the fictitious medical student Maxwell Edison kills his date, Joan, by whacking her in the head with his favorite silver hammer, the same weapon that eventually kills the judge who is about to sentence him.

And say what you want, but I believe it was the first pop song about a serial killer…

 Bang bang, clang clang, indeed.


Talking Heads, “Psycho Killer”

1977’s “Psycho Killer” was the Talking Heads’ first big hit — the song’s lyrics are written from the perspective of a serial killer. (David Byrne has said that he was inspired by movie bad guys like the Joker and Hannibal Lecter.) The song made a catch phrase of the line “psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est?” and in its climax features some very good advice for anyone who has the bad luck to be faced with any of these evil Lecter types — “Run run run run run run away!”


The Rolling Stones, “Midnight Rambler”

The dark and rollicking “Midnight Rambler” (off 1969’s Let It Bleed) tells the sordid story of a rampant rapist and killer — purportedly “based” on the Boston Strangler, who killed 13 single women in the early 60s by strangling them with their nylon stockings. In “Midnight Rambler,” Mick Jagger sings, “honey, it’s no rock ‘n’ roll show.” Well, you got that right. Of the tune, Keith Richards once said, “(Violence, it’s) just something that’s there… I’d rather play it out than shoot it out.


Bruce Springsteen, “Nebraska”

Springsteen’s seminal 1982 record Nebraska was themed around the story of 19-year-old Charles Starkweather, who in late 50s took a road trip around Nebraska and Wyoming with his 14-year-old girlfriend, murdering eleven people along the way. (He was eventually caught and executed). “Nebraska” the song is a rambling first-person narrative in which Springsteen — as Starkweather — sings, “I can’t say that I’m sorry for the things that we done/ At least for a little while sir me and her we had us some fun… They wanted to know why I did what I did/ Well, sir, I guess there’s just a meanness in this world.”


Yeah, I know there are more.  So…got any other “Killer” songs to add?


9 responses

  1. Clark

    “The End”, the Doors. “….and he walked on down the hall…”

    October 13, 2011 at 3:29 pm

  2. Rachel

    Jimi Hendrix- Hey Joe!!

    October 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

  3. Don H

    “Murder by Numbers” by The Police, a jazzy little number with a serial killer (Sting) giving lots of good advice to anyone who’s considering taking up the trade. “Once that you’ve decided on a killing/first you make a stone out of your heart/And if you find that your hands are still willing/Then you can turn a murder into art…”

    October 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm

  4. Ben

    I Don’t Like Mondays by the Boomtown Rats written by bob Geldof about the shooting spree of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, who fired at children playing in a school playground at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California on 29 January 1979. She killed two adults and injured eight children and one police officer. Spencer showed no remorse for her crime, and her full explanation for her actions was “I don’t like Mondays; this livens up the day.”[

    October 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

  5. Dave Evans

    Jeremy- Pearl Jam

    October 13, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    • Dave Evans

      Jeremy, while it isn’t about a serial killer, brings to mind Columbine High School and the multiple shootings that happened that day.

      October 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

  6. Would “Timothy” by the Bouys count? I mean, I assume they killed him before they ate him, right?

    October 13, 2011 at 5:42 pm

  7. Matt

    First… Jeremy is a true story about a kid that Vedder went to school with. He wasn’t in the room, but it clearly affected him. What about Blind Melon’s “Skinned”?

    October 13, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  8. “Down By The River” Buffalo Springfield, “Riders On The Storm” The Doors, “Watching The Detectives” by Elvis Costello?

    October 14, 2011 at 1:03 am

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