Maine To Colorado Road Trip Playlist- Songs Inspired By Stephen King

“The Carpet” He Is Legend

“Take a second to let it all sink in

That you only call me

when you’ve been drinking

I’ve gotta curb your way of thinking

I’m not gonna hurt you

I’m gonna bash your brains in.”

Severely underrated band He Is Legend released their fourth album, Heavy Fruit, in 2014, after coming back from a hiatus. The album has a few spooky-vibing songs, such as “Something, Something, Something Witchy” and “ABRACADABRA”, and He Is Legend gave The Shining the treatment with their signature groove/alternative/metal sound. 

“Enjoy Your Slay” Ice Nine Kills (feat. Sam Kubrick)

“Face down in the lap luxury

Fuck the comforts of reality

Turn the page, disengage and destroy

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

“Enjoy Your Slay” was released as a single in May 2017, marked as “The Final Chapter” of their 2015 literary concept album, Every Trick In The Book. Sam Kubrick, vocalist of the metal band Shields and grandson of The Shining director Stanley Kubrick, graces the track as a guest vocalist. The song got a spot on their 2018 horror movie concept album, The Silver Scream

Gaining extra cool points, in 2019, Ice Nine Kills performed an acoustic set at The Stanley Hotel, King’s inspiration for The Overlook. The five-song set was recorded and Undead & Unplugged At The Overlook Hotel was released in June 2020 and, yes, it features “Enjoy Your Slay” as the set-closing song. 

“IT Is The End” Ice Nine Kills (featuring Peter “JR” Wasilewski and Buddy Schaub of Less Than Jake and Will Salazar of Fenix TX)

“A carnival of carnage

That much you assume

But it’s more than just a costume

and red balloons

IT’s coming back around every 27 years

IT’s everything you know

IT’s everything you fear”

The song had two music videos released- one that’s more theatrical and is 14 minutes long as a part of their prose music videos for The Silver Scream and one that was a performance video featuring Matt Appleton and John Christianson from Reel Big Fish on stage playing the horns, recorded on their summer 2019 tour. “IT Is The End” became their encore song on tour with lead singer Spencer Charnas returning to the stage in the same clown outfit that he wears for the music video, complete with red balloons. (“99 luftballoons…”) 

“Hell In The Hallways” Ice Nine Kills

“When happily ever after

Came crashing from the rafters

She knew she wasn’t meant to wear

their crooked crown

But look who’s laughing now”

Yes, three Ice Nine Kills songs in a row, but that’s what happens when a bunch of horror fans come together in a metalcore band. And they’re not the only band with multiple songs on this list. 

In an interview with Metal Hammer, Charnas spoke of King’s Carrie as, “widely regarded as one of the best horror novels of the twentieth century. Its imagery will forever be embedded in the darkest recesses of pop culture. In our track ‘Hell In The Hallways’, our goal was to pay tribute to this legendary cautionary tale.” The actress who plays Carrie in the music video should been cast in a remake, in my opinion.

“Pet Sematary” The Ramones

“I don’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary

I don’t want to live my life again

Follow Victor to the sacred place

This ain’t a dream, I can’t escape

Molars and fangs, the clicking of bones

Spirits moaning among the tombstones”

While it was nominated for the Worst Original Song at the 1989 Razzie Awards, “Pet Sematary” became one of the most well-known Ramones songs as it was one of the few that got radio play with the release of the movie of the same name. In the novel Pet Sematary, King brings up the Ramones a couple of times, even having Louis Creed check into a motel using “Ramone” as a false name.  

Potentially the most-covered Ramones song, it was covered by Starcrawler for the 2019 Pet Sematary remake (still used during the end credits), The Haxans, Plain White T’s, The Casualties, The Creepshow, Hawthorne Heights, and covered live by Rammstein, The Misfits, and Blondie. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie make cameos in the music video for “Pet Sematary”, too.  

“We All Float Down Here” Iwrestledabearonce

“Come closer dear so you can hear me.

Give me your name. I’ll speak it softly.

You will be consumed.

Let it seep right through.”

“We All Float Down Here” was released on the fourth, and final, Iwrestledabearonce album, Hail Mary. The shortest summation of Iwrestledabearonce’s sound is experimental metal, but their variety of sound has included djent, electronic, deathcore, mathcore, progressive metal, and, early on, grindcore. Hail Mary was the second IWABO album to feature Courtney LaPlante on vocals, growling lyrics like, “We’re still floating. We all float down here.” 

“Pennywise” Pennywise 

“He’s a monster, he’s not human

He’s more than just a figment

of your imagination

You can’t run, can’t hide

There’s no way to escape Pennywise”

“Pennywise” by Pennywise from their album Pennywise. 

The band’s self-titled debut album was released in 1991, five years after IT was published and one year after the television movie starring Tim Curry was released. Since then, Pennywise have released twelve studio albums, a live album, and a live DVD. 

“All Work No Play” Dr. Acula 

“There’s no excuse for it, this shit has got to end

All work no play has turned this dull boy

into a monster” 

Although the song takes its name from the repetitive, manic writing of Jack Torrence, “All Work No Play” opens with a sampling of Otis Driftwood from The Devil’s Rejects quoting Charles Manson. The song appears on the fourth studio album of deathcore band Dr. Acula, Slander. As you can tell by the use of Dracula for their name, Dr. Acula pepper in horror references throughout their songs, sampling horror movie dialogue and getting many of their earlier song titles from the titles of Goosebumps books. 

“Ride The Lightning” Metallica

“Guilty as charged

But damn it, it ain’t right

There is someone else controlling me

Death in the air

Strapped in the electric chair

This can’t be happening to me”

Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett is a huge horror fan, known for his incredibly large collection of horror and sci-fi posters, props, and other memorabilia, to the point that there’s a book called It’s Alive: Classic Horror and Sci-Fi Movie Posters From The Kirk Hammett Collection and even limited edition Pop Vinyls of him as Frankenstein’s monster and the Creature From The Black Lagoon. 

As Metallica were writing their second studio album, Hammett was reading King’s The Stand and recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone, “there was this one passage where this guy was on death row said he was waiting to ‘ride the lightning’. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, what a great song title.’ I told James (Hetfield), and it ended up being a song and the album title.”

“The Shining” Black Sabbath

“Oh  rise up, to the shining

Wise up they’re gonna steal your mind

Rise up, the house is gonna haunt you

No one laughed, no one cried

You stayed too long

You’re finally gonna stay”

The Eternal Idol is the thirteenth studio album from heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath and was the first album to feature Tony Martin as their vocalist, after a revolving door of replacement vocalists after Ozzy Osbourne. “The Shining” was the first single from the album and when it came time to make the music video, they didn’t have an official bassist so they pulled someone off the street, who happened to be a guitarist, to stand-in during the filming of the music video. 

“Disciples Of The Watch” Testament

“Your fate is all that you’ll see

I am the one

To show you the path

Salvation is in the fields

Listen up children and follow me

Or I’ll let you pay the price

Of Malachi!” 

Children Of The Corn was a short story that was first published in a 1977 issue of Penthouse and then in 1978 in King’s collection of short stories, Night Shift. The movie was released in 1984 and was followed by several sequels and re-imaginings. In 1988, thrash metal band Testament released their second album, The New Order, featuring “Disciples Of The Watch”, a song that remains one of Testament’s most played live songs. 

“Lone Justice” Anthrax

“Burn ’em, clear the streets

as he rides into the town

Cause the nameless one’s gonna have some fun

He’s gonna bring an outlaw down”

The five short stories that make up The Gunslinger were published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction between 1978 and 1981. The Gunslinger stories were collected and published in 1982 as the first volume in King’s The Dark Tower series. “Lone Justice”, Anthrax’s song about The Gunslinger appears on their second album, Spreading The Disease, that was released on October 30 (Devil’s Night),1985. 

“A Skeleton In The Closet” Anthrax

“It’s insanity, puppetmaster boy or Nazi

Apt pupil, he hears the screams”

Apt Pupil was a novella published in 1982 in King’s collection, Different Seasons. The story follows Todd Bowden, who believes his elderly German neighbor is a fugitive Nazi war criminal. The novella has two movie adaptations, a stage adaptation, and the Family Guy episode “German Guy” is based on the story. Among The Living was Anthrax’s third studio album. It was released in 1987 and the album was certified Gold in 1990.

The album also features the title track…

“Among The Living”  Anthrax 

“Spreading the disease.

With some help from Captain Trips,

He’ll bring the world down to his knees.”

In King’s epic novel the stant The Stand, “Captain Trips” is the nickname given to the virus that kills almost the entirety of the world’s population. Some believe that the man depicted on the album cover for Among The Living is Randall Flagg, the antagonist of King’s novel. 

“Misery Loves Company” Anthrax 

“Write for me, and only me

A really extra special story

Make it mine, every line

Don’t make me sorry”

Based on King’s novel, Misery, the song “Misery Loves Company” appears on Anthrax’s fourth album, State Of Euphoria. The album also has their cover of Trust’s song “Antisocial”, which was dropped in the 2017 reimagining of IT during the rock fight scene. 

Who Made Who album by AC/DC

“Who made who, who made you?

If you made them and they made you

Who picked up the bill, and who made who?”

In 1986, horror fans received the utterly campy treat that was Maximum Overdrive. King wrote the screenplay and directed the movie based off of his short story “Trucks” from his Night Shift collection of shorts. The movie was nominated for Worst Director and Worst Actor with Emilio Estevez at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 1987 (both lost to Under The Cherry Moon, directed by and starring Prince). The music for the movie was written by AC/DC, who then released the Who Made Who album as the “soundtrack” to the movie. The album also featured the singles “Hells Bells” and a re-issue of “You Shook Me All Night Long”.

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