Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim noir supernatural series has been going from the strength to strength while picking up a legion of devoted readers. In their mixing of
noir, urban fantasy, pop culture, horror, and hardboiled fiction, the novels
manage to be endlessly inventive and high-octane. Zombie plagues, vampires,
angels, the Devil, and more populate Kadrey's Los Angeles.
In his brand-new installment, Devil Said Bang, protagonist James Stark has to figure out how to run Hell while also
trying to get back out of it"”again. Plus there's the small matter of surviving.
Because everyone in Heaven, Hell, and in between wants to be the fastest gun in
the universe, and the best way to do so is to take down Lucifer, a.k.a. James
Stark. Not to mention the serial killer on the loose"¦
asked Kadrey if he'd like to do something a little different as a guest post,
and this is what he came up with"¦
The Infernal Hit Parade by
In my new Sandman Slim book, Devil Said Bang,
there's a jukebox in Hell. James Stark, the book's protagonist, has filled it
with songs about Hell and the Devil because they're the last things any
self-respecting Hellions would ever want to hear. Fortunately, Stark and I have
similar musical tastes. Here are ten of my favorite songs about the Lucifer and
the Abyss. These aren't the absolute ten best songs ever but more a list of
personal favorites. The kind of songs you can have your mp3 player without
someone calling the cops, a priest or a hospital.
and the Devil Blues by Robert Johnson"”Forget
Slayer's odes to Hell. Forget Faust and Don Giovanni. The classic Devil song
was written by a slight Mississippian who was dead at 27. Robert Johnson's ode
to darkness is a skeletal, fragile, mournful thing that can be read more than
one way. You can listen to it as a man who's literally sold his soul to Lucifer
(a famous part of the Robert Johnson legend) or as a metaphor for a man giving
in to his worst impulses. The Cowboy Junkies cover version comes at the song
from a very different angle. Johnson's wailing despair becomes something snaky
and strangely seductive, as if it's more about a consensual S/M relationship
Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling
we have a completely modernist portrait of the Miltonian Lucifer. Not a big
surprise from a band with art school leanings. What could have been another
minor key Sixties "Let's scare the Straights" novelty song turned into
something more sinister and interesting. Sympathy for the Devil all about the
repetitive, hypnotic rhythms that form its foundation. It sounds almost as if
the Stones took a recording of a dark invocation ceremony and laid guitar and
vocals on top. The band Laibach did an interesting cover that's nothing like
the original. Laibach's Devil feels like something from the soundtrack to
Passolini's "Salo" as performed by Deathklok.
Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band"”Another classic Devil tune about a violin contest between
the Dark One and a mortal. However, this Devil isn't all-powerful, but a
fallible, egocentric fiddle poseur. The good news is that if you want a more
talented violin-plucking Lucifer you just have to jump back a hundred years to
Liszt's Mephisto Waltz No. 1.
Shake Me, Lucifer by Roky Erickson"”Roky
Erickson, well known for his Sixties-era acid binges has seen Hell, outer
space, the dark inside of his own skull, and a lot of places in between. Don't
Shake Me, Lucifer feels more like a song about the world"”and Roky's mind"”coming
apart than Lucifer himself. Madness is the Devil. The Devil is madness. And
it's all rock and roll.
Up Jumped the Devil by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds"”There isn't a more
sinister, relentless, and unrepentant hellbound tune in all of pop music. You
could look at Up Jumped the Devil as a cautionary tale but there's nothing
cautious about it. The singer is damned, he knows it, and he's going to make
the best of his time on Earth. The song is like a musical version of serial
H. H. Holmes', famous confession, "I was born with the devil in me.... with the
Evil One standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the
world, and he has been with me since."
From Hell by The Cramps"”Why look at Hell as a place of torment and damnation? Why
can't it be a swinging vacation destination? If Disney can take a bunch of
diseased, ruthless, murderous Pirates of the Caribbean and make them into fun
family outing, why can't The Cramps take Hell and turn it into a Beach Blanket
Bingo gogo girl party?
with a Tail by Supersuckers"”This
is one of the most gleefully blasphemous songs you'll ever hear. Eternal
damnation turned into a poppy country rock anthem. This is the sunny version of
Nick Cave's Up Jumped the Devil, a damned soul tune sung by a guy who can't
wait to get to Hell because the parties down there are harder, faster, and
louder than anything on Earth. If the Church of Satan is looking for a
recruitment song, this should be it.
Satani by Jerry Goldsmith"”This is a
guilty pleasure, pure Hollywood horror movie cheese. The Latin-chanting choir
sounds like the chorus of an infernal opera and as hokey as it is, somehow it
works. The sound is a mix of a perverted Mass, with the jittery feel of
Ligeti's Lux Aeterna, mixed with a dash of Mars from Holst's The Planets. Mike
Patton's band, Fantomas, did a sort of speed metal version of the song that's
as manic as Goldsmith's original is elegiac.
Dead Heaven by Gary Numan"”The last song
about Hell is about Heaven, a Heaven long past its expiration date. Next to
Robert Johnson, Dead Heaven the grimmest song of the bunch. Numan sees Heaven
only in terms of horror, despair, and death. The song is as savagely
sacrilegious as anything Slayer ever played but a lot more listenable because
it has one of Numan's catchy slightly off-kilter choruses.