How Satan Once Spoke to Us. Allegedly.

Satan rocks, dude.Backmasking is the term given to the practice of putting backwards messages into songs, something that was pretty popular for a while.

The Beatles were the first to do something like this with the instruments on their Revolver album in 1966, which presaged the whole issue of hidden messages revealing that Paul McCartney was dead a few years later. Pink Floyd and several others picked up on the trick in the 70s.

By the 80s, Christian fundamentalists were positive rock groups were using backwards messages to spread satanic messages.  Even when there weren’t any messages, they swore that they could hear…something in the gibberish.  

It got so crazy that in 1983, there was a bill introduced in California designed to outlaw backmasking that “can manipulate our behavior without our knowledge and consent and turn us into disciples of the Antichrist.”  (I did not make that up.)  

What killed the controversy over backwards messages on songs?  CDs.  It was too hard to play them backward.  

Still, those messages survive.  Check out a list of them here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “How Satan Once Spoke to Us. Allegedly.

  • December 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Why is the Led Zeppelin-Stairway to Heaven-"Here's to my sweet Satan" not on that list???

    I remember using windows 3.1 and inputting it to reverse it, pretty clear actually…

  • December 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm

    They're only clear because you're told what the message is going to be in advance and your brain twists it into what you're supposed to hear as long as it's vaguely close. Pure psychoacoustics and the Observer-Expectancy Effect. If someone gives you a backmasked piece of music or speech and just asks you to tell him what the hidden message is, you won't hear a thing.

    Play around with the audio illusions at <A HREF="; title="The Virtual Barber"> to get some insight into how what we think we hear can be way off.


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