Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Gail” — Alice Cooper (1987)

A tree has grown on the spot
Where her body did rest
Blood seeped in the soil
From the knife in her chest

The bugs serve time in her skeletal jail
I wonder how the bugs remember Gail…

Listen, let’s be completely real here. You could do an entire decade of Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs and feature nothing but Alice Cooper, and it would be utterly righteous and kickass and no one could tell you otherwise.

So I limit myself to only one AC song per annum. I do the same with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Rob Zombie, Kiss, all the usual suspects.

But as far as ultra-theatrical horror-rock royalty is concerned, it’s hard to argue against Alice Cooper being at the top of the food chain. And accordingly, we’ve featured him here with the following righteous tunes:

And we honor him again with Gail, a creepy and wonderful track from his righteous 1987 album Raise Your Fist and Yell. This is Cooper at his baroque horror best, a highly structured musical piece adhering to strict musical forms (at least at first) while exploring his usual depraved subject matter.

The song opens with wind and howls, then erupts into harpsichord-like keyboards (played by none other than Kip Winger, who co-wrote the song with Cooper and guitarist Kane Roberts) that lend the song an air of detached formality. Almost as if Cooper were dressed up and taken in for high tea with the Havercamps.

Except he is ruminating about Gail, a woman lying stone dead in the dirt, a knife stuck in her chest. Or at least that’s where we found her long ago. By now a tree had grown in the soil where her blood seeped, worms trapped in her remains, dogs digging up her bones.

And Cooper is wondering how the world will remember her. If it all. If her memory is left to the bugs and the dogs and little else.

Of course if we listened to the entire album, we’d realize she was a streetwalker who was murdered in the previous song, Chop Chop Chop, by a deranged serial killer. Poor Gail. At least she got something of wistful remembrance in her namesake tune.

Oh, what a lovely young girl
Everybody would say
You can still hear her laugh
In the shadows on a cold winter day

A dog dug up a bone and wagged his tail
I wonder how the dog remembers Gail…

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