Song of the Month Blue Oyster Cult’s “Nosferatu”

From the full-length studio release, Spectres

By Contributing Writer: Octavio Ramos Jr.

Deep in the heart of Germany
Lucy clutched her breast in fear
She heard a beat of her lover’s heart
For weeks she raved in dreams he appeared
From far off Transylvania
Only a woman can break his spell
Pure in heart who will offer herself
To Nosferatu”

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Blue Oyster Cult’s association with vampires has often been overlooked, but many hardcore fans are aware of the band’s fascination with vampirism. Many of the band’s songs explore the theme either explicitly or subtly. Songs such as “I Love the Night,” “Tattoo Vampire,” “Harvest Moon,” “After Dark,” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” all contribute to the vampire mythos, with the creature seen as both romantic and hideous.

Formed in 1967, Blue Oyster Cult has sold more than 14 million albums worldwide, including seven million in the United States alone. The argument about whether Blue Oyster Cult is heavy metal or hard rock has been a longstanding one, with fans divided on the issue to this day. Of the material, the earlier albums were harsher and harder, but the band has always had a softer underbelly, crafting eerie and romantic songs that sometimes border a ballad-like structure.

Released in late 1977, Spectres is Blue Oyster Cults fifth album, one that contains the monster hit “Godzilla” and fan favorites such as “Golden Age of Leather” and “Death Valley Nights.” The album also includes two overt tributes to vampirism, the ballad-like “I love the Night,” which is followed by the album closer, “Nosferatu.”

Nosferatu” begins with a combination of guitars and piano, both of which are overshadowed by Buck Dharma’s lush lead vocal, which is complemented and augmented by the background vocals from the other members. Allen Lanier’s keyboards lend an air of orchestration to the song, punctuated by his piano stings.

It’s Buck Dharma’s guitar solo, however, that is not easily forgotten. Coming after the song’s final verse, the solo blisters ahead with increasing intensity, with Eric Bloom’s rhythm guitar crafting stings that contribute to the songs restrained mayhem. Once the final chorus is done, the song is over, but the urge to play it again lives on.

Lyrically, “Nosferatu” was inspired by the German expressionist horror film, which is titled Nosferatu: A Symphony of Terror. The words follow closely the elements of the movie, taken some of the more romantic and horrible moments and committing them to the song. Check out this verse: “The ship pulled in without a sound. The faithful captain long since cold. He kept his log till the bloody end. Last entry read, ‘rats in the hold. My crew is dead—I fear the plague’.” Verses like this one simply chill the blood.

As the final song, “Nosferatu” in a way serves as a foil to the more romantic song, “I Love the Night.” For as the last song says, “Only Lucy knew the truth.” Perhaps deep down all of us do.