The only song on The Days of Wine and Roses not written by Steve Wynn, “Halloween” became somewhat of a staple cover on the indie underground circuit, due to the fact that it was simple to play and open-ended in structure.
It was also seasonal and eternal: you could learn it for a Halloween show, but play it year-round, due to the fact that it technically about the film Halloween, not the holiday.
Which is what we did in Sedan Delivery: we learned it for a Halloween gig where we played it along with every Neil Young cover that we knew, then played it off and on for the next 18 months. It got really fun when there were two guitars to take two very long solos.
For one gig, we discovered that the band we were opening for — Eggplant, according to my journal — also covered it, so we opened the show with our version and they closed it with their version.
That’s just how ubiquitous it was for awhile.
Easily the most relaxed song on The Days of Wine and Roses, “Halloween” slowly fades in as if it’s always existed in some form and — congrats! — you’re getting your chance to hear a few minutes of it. Eventually, the main guitar riff — full of hummable distortion — kicks in, as Steve Wynn drowsily sings:
There’s a place you might wanna go
It’s right up my street
You might look and see the light shining
Someone you might like to meet
Of course, for most the 1980s, Halloween meant only one thing: KFSR anniversary show. The radio station went on the air on October 30, 1982 — just two days after The Days of Wine and Roses was released, if you can believe wikipedia, and for years, it was only natural to have the anniversary shows as defacto Halloween parties.
He says “let’s go for a ride”
And he says it all the time
You know you got a lot to live for
And you’re gonna be mine
Since he has taken it for the various live versions I’ve seen and heard, I’m assuming that it’s also Steve Wynn taking the guitar solo on the album version of “Halloween.” It starts off quiet and even as it gets loud, never fully escapes the mix, even as it gets wilder and more disjointed at every turn. And eventually, it just stops cold, like it was snuffed out by a serial killer.
He says you shouldn’t believe the things in papers
They can’t come true
And don’t believe the things that you see on TV ’cause
They’ll never happen to you
No no, not on Halloween
I never really liked to dress up for Halloween. I’ve never been good at coming up with a concept, or wanting to pretend to be someone other than who I pretend to be every single day. It never really made any sense to me. I’m not a big fan of horror movies, and with one notable exception, I don’t really like candy.
So after I moved away from Fresno, Halloween stopped holding any appeal for me, except as a reminder of just how out of step I am with, well, pretty much everybody. The irony is that I’m positive I’ve enjoyed nearly every one of the Halloween parties I went to, even after I stopped dressing up for them.
While I suck with costuming myself, I appreciate the time and effort that other folks have taken with their costumes.
2 steps forward
Don’t say I didn’t warn you
2 steps forward
Ahh, I didn’t warn you
On The Days of Wine and Roses, “Halloween” just kinda stops for a couple of seconds after that last verse, like it needed to gather its breath. Then it restarts, and slowly walks away, looking for someone else to enchant.
“Halloween” performed live in 1984 (not the best sound quality)
Fan-made video for “Halloween”