Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 5.45.22 PMI don’t know what it’s like where you are, but as I write this post here in New York, the sky is overcast, there’s some cool 65-degree air seeping in through the window, and I can even see some dead leaves scattered in the street outside. Tuesday the 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox (the first “official” day of the season, astronomically), and it sure feels like it’s coming.

I’ve decided it’s the perfect day to start decorating for Halloween, a seemingly simple task that I treat like a sacred ritual. I give my home a thorough cleaning and clear every surface (shelves, window sills, table tops) in preparation for its incoming holiday display. Then we bring down the boxes in the closet marked “Halloween decor” and lay out their contents on the floor, organizing items into groups until we decide which cluster to put where. We draw out this whole process into a three-hour event involving ceremonial foods, lit candles, and sometimes a silent scary movie playing on DVD.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 5.48.46 PMOne absolutely essential part of this custom is the music. Fall decorating is the perfect time to listen to songs that remind me of cooler weather, of past Halloweens, and of anything creepy. So I make a mix CD every year to set the mood for the season. And this year I have taken the best of those CDs and created an “Ultimate Halloween Playlist” for you, my dear readers. It’s a collection of songs that either loosely or directly reference some aspect of fall and its magic: songs about ghosts and witches, songs that just have an eerie tone, some familiar classics, some obscure weird tracks, and a few creepy instrumentals. Consider it a mixed bag of pure Halloween ear candy.

Here’s the link to your online playlist. Just go there and choose the “Play All” option on the upper left. You don’t have to sign up for Grooveshark to listen to it.

Enjoy! And welcome to fall!

Photos by Photo Amy on Flickr.

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