If you’ve ever been to Disney’s The Haunted Mansion, you’ve heard Grim Grinning Ghosts. Here’s a version by the A Capella group Voiceplay
The music for the song was written in the late 1960’s by Buddy Baker and the lyrics were written by Xavier Atencio. When you go on the ride, one of the voice talents in the attraction is Thurl Ravenscroft, who was recognizable from other Disney projects, the annual Chuck Jones/Dr. Seuss Christmas special How The Grinch Stole Christmas and as the voice of Tony the Tiger. He leads the five “singing busts” in the graveyard scene with his characteristic voice. A projected film loop is used to animate the busts, with Ravenscroft and the other vocalists appearing as “themselves.” The Ravenscroft bust, which is the second one in from the left, is “broken” and has often been misidentified as being an image of Walt Disney himself. The other four voices of the busts are Jay Meyer, Chuck Schroeder, Verne Rowe, and Bob Ebright.
The song is written in a minor key, which usually makes for a “spooky” or “eerie” sound. Different variations use 4/4 or 3/4 for the meter. The following chord progression is used for all versions: Am, B, Am, B♭, Am, F, Am, F7, Am, E7, Am. Typically, each chord lasts for two beats of 4/4 or three beats of 3/4. This underlying chord progression provides a macabre mood for the Haunted Mansion attractions. The song modulates to B-flat minor thus: Am, E7, F7, B♭m and on to B-minor via B♭m, F7 and F♯7. The melody then modulates back to A-minor after repeating a dissonant chord six times. When recording the song, the organist actually played the song backwards to achieve the discord that the composer intended. The organ part that can be heard in the song is that tune played forwards.
What do you think of this song? Is it spooky? Scary?
Check out the previous songs I’ve covered in the 13 days of Halloween