Mostly Ghostly - the boast-y host-y

Of all my Halloween Carols, “Mostly Ghostly” is the only one for which I wrote the words first.

Isn’t that funny? I was always taught by music teachers and professors that text comes first, then the music, so that the music can express the text. Well, “Mostly Ghostly” is the only one that follows that advice.

I wrote “Mostly Ghostly” in bed a couple of years ago – words and music (but there were a few weeks between the two). A lot of these carols I write in bed or on the couch. I don’t have perfect pitch, but because their melodies are exercises in counterpoint (a type of musical composition), I like to write away from the piano, to exercise the “music composition muscles” in my brain.

When it came time to arrange it for the CD (this one I arranged back in March-ish of this year), I did that at my piano/synthesizer. I wanted to experiment with richer harmonies than I used for the plain carol – diminished chords and other lush combinations of notes. I pulled from centuries of musical influences and had fun with what a slight tug of a half-step might do.

This carol is about a ghost who misses being alive. I used to think that all my songs were girls, but this one strikes me as being male. I don’t know why. Every time I start to refer to this song as “she,” it doesn’t feel right. Funny, huh? So, this man-ghost misses his life … and his smarts.

He was very witty and intelligent in mortality (so he thinks), but not so intelligent as he thinks that his smarts were left in his physical brains … so maybe he isn’t so smart after all, because he doesn’t esteem his spiritual brains. Nonetheless, he’s a maudlin guy, but mercurial, too – weepingly sentimental one moment, seethingly angry the next.

Ghosts have been associated with Halloween from the very beginning, from the original ancient Celtic days of Samhain. The eve of Samhain was believed to be the night when the dead came back to visit the earth. These early people welcomed deceased family members, but were wary of other visitors who might not be so friendly … or just jealous that they’re not alive anymore and have turned insecure and boastful and bipolar like “Mostly Ghostly.”

I’m mostly a ghost, but I still have my head.

I don’t mean to boast, but I’m better than dead.

For, those folks in graves are still lying intact,

And each ghost behaves as though all-dead, in fact.

I keep my mind here, in my hands, at my side.

But, yes, through my ear all my brains seem to slide.

Oh, I love my head; I was clever in life.

But, witlessness dread, so beware of my scythe.