Lost Music: Dead Man's Stroll (The Revels)


Today's Lost Music is one of my all-time favorite Halloween songs, Dead Man's Stroll by The Revels! 

While looking for some info on The Revels, I came across the Way Back Attack website: "The Walking Dead. That's one way, at least, to describe someone who's doing the Dead Man's Stroll! In 1959, The Revels recorded a song describing one of the most macabre musical scenes ever, starting with the toll of a tower bell, followed by an accidental discovery: 'Just got off from work, it was awful late, I had to pass the cemetery gate...I never thought I could see such a sight, a poor soul doing the dead man's stroll.' Wow! 1950s rhythm and blues meets Boris Karloff's 1936 film The Walking Dead, resulting in the deliriously great Dead Man's Stroll.  

Dead Man's Stroll was released in September 1959 with the idea of timing it to hit big around Halloween, and the song began popping up on radio stations, leading to a scheduled appearance on American Bandstand with Dick Clark at the end of the month. Clark objected to the Dead Man part of the title, so to appease him and avoid losing the much-needed TV exposure, the record's title was changed to Midnight Stroll (though the lyrics were left unchanged, with the word midnight nowhere in the song). The record broke into the national charts in mid-October, languishing near the bottom at first, as Halloween flew right by. Fortunately the song wasn't affected by the passing of the holiday, as it ascended soon after, reaching the top 40 near the end of November and remaining on the charts until just before Christmas!

A maniacal, uncontrollable, screaming, gasping 27-second bout of laughter erupts over the sax break in the middle of Midnight Stroll, leading to the final, dreaded set of lyrics: 'We went on strolling for miles and miles, just before I realized, the time had passed and I was cold...I was now doing the dead man's stroll.' The song ends with the gong from that tower...all very spine-chilling and lots of fun! It's one of the great Halloween classics or just plain classics, period."


Just got off from work 
It was awful late 
I had to pass the cemetery gate 
The sky was dark 

And the moon was bright 
It was a very, very cold, cold night 
I never thought I could see such a sight 
A poor soul doing the Dead Man's Stroll 

Dressed in a top hat, cane and all 
Must have been going to a dead man's ball 
May not believe it but it has to be told 
A poor soul doing the Dead Man's Stroll

Nodded his head 
With a finger he led 
I wasn't sure there was nothing to dread 
We went on for miles and miles 

Just before I realized 
The time had passed when I was cold 
I was now doing 
The Dead Man's Stroll





Stay Tuned For SEASON OF THE WITCH:  A Halloween Playlist



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