Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Stranger” — Jefferson Starship (1981)

Raindrops falling
Winter feels so gloomy
Hear a knock upon my door
Stranger calling
Eyes that look like mine
He said you know I’ve called before

Look if we’re gonna talk sheer abject terror, it begins and ends with “We Built This City”, right? QED.

But before this particular band devolved into the atrocity that was known in the mortal tongue as Starship, they were known as Jefferson Starship, and had a reasonable FM/AOR run of albums in the late 70s and early 80s. They fit pretty easily alongside the Foreigners, Journeys, Blackfoots, Styxes, etc. of the day just fine, as it were.

They also produced a handful of cool rock tunes, including Stranger, a haunting little thing that earworms its way into your skull via its catchy bass riff (courtesy of Pete Sears) and a cataclysmically awesome vocal duet between Mickey Thomas and Grace Slick. The second single from their 1981 album Modern Times, everything about this song cooks. Check out that scorching guitar solo from Craig Chaquico’s that leads into the final verse. Totally sick.

But enough of these platitudinous observations; what, then, makes this such a kickass Halloween song? The music is evocative of an offsetting picture: a dark house, creaky floors, cold nighttime rain obscuring the picture with fog and gloominess… when that knock on the door occurs.

The narrator opens the door and faces… something. His doppleganger, somehow. His own eyes. Forced to confront himself or, perhaps, something he did in the past, either one taking form as his own reproachful conscience. No one knows for sure… except that the truth will be revealed tonight.

Is there anything more terrifying than stripping away the layers of protective delusion and standing naked before the cold truth of one’s own past? Especially in the form of an unflinching Stranger? Yeesh. I’d rather listen to “We Built This City”.

No I wouldn’t.

What is veiled now soon will be shown
Come walk with me through the unknown…

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