It’s easy to find tons of lists online that recycle the same 10-15 songs about murderers/serial killers.
Here are 7 indie/less well-known songs about serial killers, by bands including Swans, Sun Kil Moon, and Xiu Xiu:
1. “Deep Red Bells” by Neko Case
About Gary Ridgway, the Green River Killer, who murdered women in California and Washington in the 1980s and 1990s. Convicted of 49 murders, Ridgway confessed to killing almost 100 women (his victims were usually prostitutes). Neko Case wrote “Deep Red Bells” about the fear she felt growing up in Tacoma, Washington when the Green River Killer was active.
2. “Killing For Company” by Swans
About Dennis Nilsen, the Muswell Hill Murderer, who killed at least 12 men in London between 1978 and 1983. With “Killing For Company,” Swans makes a pun to refer to Nilsen’s loneliness – he was so lonely that he literally killed the men that he brought back to his house.
3. “House Sparrow” by Xiu Xiu
About Richard Chase, the Vampire of Sacramento, who killed 6 people in Sacramento, California from late 1977 to early 1978. With a history of mental illness, Chase drank the blood of his victims, cannibalized their corpses, and committed necrophilia. The title “House Sparrow” refers to the birds that a young Richard Chase killed before drinking their blood.
4. “Mary Ann” by Suny Lyons
About Mary Ann Cotton, who murdered up to 21 people via arsenic poisoning in the mid-1800s in England. Considered England’s first serial killer (male or female), Cotton killed 8 of her children, 7 of her step-children, 3 husbands, her mother, 1 boyfriend, and a friend. Suny Lyons sings about Cotton’s method of killing, most directly with the chilling line “She’s the one who poisoned me.”
5. “Notown Blues” by Black Lips
About Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, known as The Hillside Stranglers, who killed girls and women in Los Angeles from 1977 to 1978. Bianchi and Buono were cousins who posed as undercover police officers in order to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill their victims, who ranged from 12 to 28 years old. The lyrics of “Notown Blues” are from the first person perspective of The Hillside Strangler: “Gonna roll around the land, killing everyone I can.”
6. “The Shankill Butchers” by The Decemberists
The Shankill Butchers were a group of Protestant men who killed up to 32 random Catholic people in Belfast, Northern Ireland between 1975 and 1982. The Shankill Butchers used cleavers and butcher knives to kill Catholics at night. The Decemberists describe the Shankill Butchers with the lyric “They used to be sweet little boys…now killing is their only source of joy.”
7. “Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes” by Sun Kil Moon
The title refers to Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker,” who killed at least 13 victims in Los Angeles and San Francisco from 1984 to 1985. Ramirez participated in home invasion robberies in which he would rape and kill his victims. Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon wrote the song “Richard Ramirez Died Today Of Natural Causes” when Ramirez died in 2013 of B-cell lymphoma while on death row.