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The Big Hurt: Devil music

sgurd fo stros lla od ot su slepmoc nataS
By DAVID THORPE  |  May 5, 2009


When I was around 10 years old, I wandered into a rural flea market and found one of the greatest pieces of music journalism ever written: a forgotten crank masterpiece called Backward Masking Unmasked that had been written in 1983 by Texan minister Jacob Aranza. The basic premise is familiar to most rock fans: Satan and his long-haired agents are inserting backward messages into our rock music telling us to reject Christ and maybe kill ourselves. These messages are then decoded by the brain's useless-faculties lobe, which busies itself with processing everything backward, just in case, and before we know it we're smoking drugs and mouthing off to our elders.

In Unmasked, Aranza lays down some pretty damning evidence of subliminal persuasion: "Queen, a group who's [sic] name is often used in slang to mean homosexual, had a hit song entitled 'Another One Bites the Dust.' The segment in which they sing that chorus, when played backwards, says, 'Decide to smoke marijuana, marijuana, marijuana.' " I checked it myself: if you reverse the track, Freddie distinctly says, "T'sud hetsub ewannah," which is close enough — just think how the impressionable backward-processing portions of a teenager's brain might interpret that suggestive set of phonemes.

Aranza doesn't stop at unmasking hidden messages — he blows the lid off the whole Satanist conspiracy of rock. Much of the book is just a compendium of rock-star sins. Were you aware that Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees indulges in pornographic drawing? Or that Ted Nugent once ate a raccoon? Did you know that KISS means Kids in Satan's Service? And that the Captain and Tennille are vegetarians? The mind boggles at such perversity.

Best of all, Aranza's razor-sharp editorializing adds a backbone of authentic crankiness to what might have turned into just another screed. "Rumours may be the hit album for Fleetwood Mac, but it's no rumor that this group is indulging in the occult." "A better name couldn't be given to them [the Grateful Dead] to describe their music. I'm sure many will be grateful when their music is dead." "A warning to those interested in flying with Jefferson Starship: their flight pattern ends in death."

This isn't just some square trying to lay his hang-ups on the kids, mind you — Aranza himself was a troubled youth, "deeply involved in the drug/rock culture" from a young age. His recollections of the time certainly sound authentic: "Words like 'far out, heavy, solid and wow' were in their prime. It seemed the whole world was taking acid, snorting THC and dropping mescaline." A vivid tableau like that almost makes me wish I'd been alive for the storied heyday of "wow," but I'm not sure I could handle all the weed snorting.

Most of us think of the whole backward-masking thing as a phenomenon of the '70s and '80s. Not so — as long as popular music can infiltrate the minds of the youth, Satan shall not rest. I've even tried my hand at reversing a few current hits, and the results are disturbing. Could Justin Timberlake's verses on T.I.'s "Dead and Gone" hide a demonic message? "Just trying to find my way back home, the old me's dead and gone, dead and gone." It may sound uplifting, but let's reverse it: Oh, a great, no a great evil, oh, a cat eat on my flesh.

And in Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," the totally innocuous line "I'm bluffin' with my muffin" turns into a shocking statement of Oedipal perversity when reversed: My nipple, my big nipple, mother squeeze. Even Miley Cyrus, who claims to be a Christian, has a message hidden in her hit "The Climb." Forward, she sings, "It ain't about how fast I get there." Backward, the same line is an ode to L. Ron Hubbard: And he got sci-fi life for thee.

If you want to learn more about the corrupting influence of popular music, you can find Backward Masking Unmasked listed used on Amazon for around one cent. Also available is its almost-as-good sequel, More Rock, Country & Backward Masking Unmasked. Highly recommended. Tanas liah.

Related: Not so elementary, Review: The Bad Plus's For All I Care, Various artists | Open Strings: 1920s Middle Eastern Recordings, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Celebrity News, Entertainment, Queen,  More more >
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Re: The Big Hurt: Devil music
I remember my church having a fit when one of the more outspoken sunday school teachers had read something about backwards masking and heavy metal music back in the 80's, She had the church to let her do a class on the evils of rock and metal music and also spoke to parents about destroying and to quit buying rock albums for their teens, well luckily for me my family knew she was full of hot air and I was not deprived of music I enjoyed as a teen.  And never did I once get into trouble, do drugs, have sex or build an altar to worship satan.  Funnily enough though in my experience most preachers and other religious figures children seem to go buck wild and do everything they can get away with.  So I was wondering has anyone ever back masked contemporary christian music that these kids raise their arms and cry and say yes lord and wonder around harassing other teens to believe or else all the while thinking about who they will be having sex with and how drunk they are going to get tonight, listen too?  Also I don't know why they are worried about the evils in music, when some of the worst evils in the world were commited for the sake of their god.
By NATAS999 on 05/05/2009 at 12:37:03
Re: The Big Hurt: Devil music
 Hail Sanat!
By readmedottxt on 05/05/2009 at 11:14:19

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