Are Subliminal Messages Backmasked in Music?
One of the Biggest Debates in Rock Music
While possibly not a big discussion in the music of today, subliminally inserted messages in music was a hot topic in decades past. Huge and relevant artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Judas Priest and others were accused of using messages for mind control, brainwashing or possibly just to rouse their audiences for the purpose of fun. Such scandals are a huge part of our rock music history.
What is a Subliminal Message
It is sometimes believed that the human brain is not capable of the refusal of a hypnotic suggestion. This is the basis of subliminal messaging. These messages can be visual or audio in nature, with the most widespread visual messages are thought to be used in advertising practices, for a further influence of promoting either idea or a product.
Backmasking in Recorded Music
A recorded audio message, inserted reverse into an audio track, so that this spoken message can only be heard while playing the recording backward is called backmasking. In 1878, Thomas Edison created the phonograph. This was the first device that allowed for sounds to be reproduced on a spinning cylinder with a stylus. Edison also discovered that the cylinder could be rotated, thus playing the media contained backward.
Paul Was Not Dead
The first notable instance of a band possibly using backmasking in popular music were The Beatles. The technique was thought to be used on the band's album, Revolver, recorded in 1966. The track ''Rain'' is thought to be the first song with a recorded backmasked message, which was the phrase ''Sunshine.Rain..When the rain comes, they all hide their heads''.
Another notable instance of the group and backmasking was the infamous "Paul Is Dead" hoax. In 1969, radio disc jockey Russ Gibb received a distressed telephone call from a college student, stating that Paul McCartney had died. The claim was that the song ''Revolution # 9'' contained a backward message confirming the rumor. The messages were thought to be "Turn me on..dead man..turn me on...turn me on, dead man''. Gibb began further promoting this to his listeners, with another message of ''Paul is dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him"' in the track ''I'm So Tired''.
Led Zeppelin and the Stairway To Heaven Controversy
In 1982, Paul Crouch of The Trinity Broadcast Network brought up satanic backward messaging allegations against the rock band Led Zeppelin. In that same year, Stairway To Heaven was played backward at a California State Assembly Hearing. A self-proclaimed neuroscience researcher named William Yarrow concluded that the recording did, in fact, contain backward messages. One of the verses contained the lines played forward is as follows:
"If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now"
While being played backward is reported to say:
''Here's to my sweet Satan, the one who's little path would make me sad"
Members of the band have vehemently denied the accusations throughout the years, with recording engineer Eddie Kramer stating it to be ''totally and utterly ridiculous.
Fans and observers alike have questions regarding the whether backmasking was embedded in the recording, some believing messages were worked into the music. Others are very skeptical, noting that the sounds may be coincidental.
''Stairway to Heaven'' by Led Zeppelin (backwards)
The Judas Priest Trial
Back in 1990, the heavy metal band Judas Priest was brought to trial in the death of two young men. It was claimed that back in 1985, two young men by the name of Raymond Belknap and James Vance tragically formed a suicide pact after listening to the album, Stained Class, on a six-hour drug and alcohol binge.
Parents of the victims of this tragedy brought forth a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the band and their record label, CBS. The basis of the claim was that subliminal messages were backmasked into the recording, thus influencing their actions. Slogans such as 'do it'' and ''let's be dead'' were the key phrases to be reportedly in the recording. The band denied that there were any backmasked messages worked into their recordings.
Citing the victim's previous substance abuse issues, the cases ultimately dismissed and the group was not required to pay any damages.
Were there backmasked messages in these examples? Really only the artists and recording engineers will ever know. While some artists do employ the technique, it is widely regarded as a frivolous task and not worth wasting recording money revenue on such practices. However, through the years, it still remains an interesting and relevant topic.
Artists and Backmasking
Which Of The Following Artists Do You Think May Have Used Backmasking In Recordings?
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