Was that just a cool breeze, or is the ghost of Hank Williams breathing down your neck? Who, or what, lives beneath the fog and mud out by Wooley Swamp? And why is Alison Krauss' apparition floating around that dark mansion? Country music's best ghost songs ask these questions, but provide no answers. Are the legends true, or just the creation of some clever songwriter's imagination?
'Riding With Private Malone'David Ball
David Ball's hit from 2001 is undoubtedly a ghost song, but Private Malone is a friendly ghost who ends up saving the main character's life. The song is more sweet than scary, and it's so much more than a simple story about a man and his new car. The singer's performance makes it something of a tearjerker, which can't be said about the other four songs on this list.
'Ghost in This House'Alison Krauss
Alison Krauss' eery version of this song is the most famous, as her naturally haunting voice is best-suited for the story. She could be using the lyrics to this 1999 track as a metaphor for how she feels after the end of a long, hot love. Many, however, like to believe she's actually playing the part of a spooky figure who roams around the house she once called her happy home.
'The Legend of Wooley Swamp'Charlie Daniels Band
Lucius Clay is the ghost that is said to walk around Wooley Swamp on certain nights. According to Daniels' song, Clay was a miser who buried his money in mason jars. Three local boys beat him to death, throw his body in the swamp and try to steal his money, but their getaway goes wrong, terribly wrong. On some nights, the legend goes, you can still hear the Cable boys screaming as Clay's laugh echoes like thunder.
'Ghost Riders in the Sky'Johnny Cash
Red-eyed, steel-hooved cattle and demon cowboys are the central characters of this ghost song from Johnny Cash and others. It's made all the more terrifying by the singer and the spooky western production. If there's someone better suited to tell a ghost story than the Man in Black, we haven't met him.
'The Ride'David Allan Coe
David Allan Coe's story of meeting the ghost of Hank Williams paints a vivid picture of what the late godfather of country music would look like should he reappear. This is the only track on this list of ghost songs that would be as effective without the music as it is with it, and the hit song from 1983 comes with a fair amount of lore. One story suggests it was Williams himself who cut the power at the Opryland during a performance of this track. Surely there was a reasonable explanation for the timing, right?