Behind The Song: “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” by Andrew Gold

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

“Every year, my family and I decorate our home for Christmas and for Halloween… we’re big on holiday decorations around these parts,” Andrew Gold wrote in the liner notes for his seminal 1996 Halloween album, Halloween Howls.

At the time, Gold had made a name for himself as a versatile musician, working on everything from television theme songs to Linda Ronstadt records to his own top-40 hits and much more—yet, he still felt unsatisfied when it came to options for quality Halloween music.

“Each holiday has a mood and usually music to go with it, especially Christmas,” he wrote. “However, it’s very hard to find any tapes or CDs of Halloween music. In fact, there’s mostly just scary sound effects available and very few songs. So, I fixed that, and you’re holding it now.”

Once Halloween Howls was released, the “Lonely Boy” singer was proud of his contributions to the canon of songs spreading fun, spooky vibes each Autumn… but little did he know just how big of an impact one of the songs, in particular, would eventually have. The song? The current-day internet-fueled smash hit, “Spooky, Scary Skeletons.”

“I first noticed the videos with notable numbers—including the one that married Disney’s vintage animation, The Skeleton Dance, with the music—right before Andrew passed in about 2011,” Gold’s widow, Leslie Kogan, tells American Songwriter, referring to the now-iconic video mashup on YouTube.

Beyond that, “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” has become the soundtrack for a massive trend on TikTok, featuring an impressive dance, incredible animations, and other ghoulish delights. There’s even an Undead Tombstone remix that has racked up 23 million streams on Spotify alone.

“Seeing kids—and adults, for that matter (including famous ones)—dance on TikTok, watching the gazillion videos on YouTube over time (some of which have amazing animation) and seeing the streaming numbers skyrocket has been one of the most amazing and gratifying experiences regarding Andrew’s incredible legacy,” Kogan said.

Considering Gold’s love for whimsy, he undoubtedly would’ve been delighted by the modern memes paired with his tune. “​​‘Spooky’ personifies Andrew both musically and from a humanity perspective,” Kogan explained. “A total summation of the man. The clever lyrics and melody infused with his influences such as The Beatles represent his brilliance as a songwriter. The whimsical sounds, mood, and humor are akin to his essence—he was both deliciously playful, young at heart, quick-witted, and overall f-en hilarious.”

Gold tragically passed away at 59 due to kidney cancer, but his legacy lives on through the timeless tunes he’s penned… and that legacy is only growing. Just this past September, Halloween Howls was reissued on vinyl—and with other great Halloween songs and a version of “Monster Mash” featuring Ronstadt herself, it’s more than just a vehicle for “Scary, Spooky Skeletons.”

For her part, Kogan is overjoyed to see these songs get the love they deserve. “Before he passed, I got to show Andrew the videos with millions of views and see him react with total delight,” she said. “I cherish that memory. Andrew had, for many years, hoped Halloween Howls would have a more impactful and ‘fun and scary’ effect on the universe. He was very proud of the release. Therefore, it warms my heart beyond measure that ‘Spooky’ has emerged as a perennial viral piece of music!”

Undoubtedly, the universe is truly more fun and scary with the work of Andrew Gold in it. As he concluded his liner notes for the original 1996 release: “Have a happy, scary, fun Halloween!”


Listen to Andrew Gold’s “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” below:

Andrew Gold photo by Jim Shea

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