In Murray Hill there used to be an Irish bar called Clery’s that had six-dollar pitchers for happy hour. The broke 20-somethings from the publishing house would migrate there after work because you could have a good night for $15–two pitchers plus tips and a dollar for the jukebox.
The jukebox must have been upgraded with a timely 90s hit package, because it had Nirvana’s In Utero placed incongruously close to the Counting Crows. Our buddy Bob-O always put on “Scentless Apprentice” and loved how it stopped many patrons mid-conversation. It might be the best screaming song ever.
There’s an art to a good scream in a song, where it’s not just a scream for screaming’s sake and in a way it adds musicality to it. A good scream is different than a call and response or a “Hey” shout (my two favorites in that category being “Punch You in the Eye” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love“).
The good scream might be words but it also doesn’t necessarily sound like it is, as evidenced in here:
There’s also what would be better described as spoken word screaming, perfected by Captain Beefheart:
(Who no doubt was heavily influenced by the original, Howlin’ Wolf.)
There are a ton of bad screaming songs, so much so to give the scream a bad name, but the good ones light you up in a way that other songs can’t touch. When Bob-O played it at Clery’s it had a better effect than we could have hoped for.