From renown mashup artist, DJ Lobsterdust, comes this brilliant ode to 1980s Satanic Panic hysteria over “backward masking,” a process which many preachers insisted was being used to brainwash young music consumers into devil-worship and committing various other sins. These preachers claimed that backward subliminal messages were placed in rock songs, either by the design of the artists, or perhaps, demonically in order to seduce young people with Satan’s spell.
One so-called expert on backward masking in the ‘80s claimed that Richard “The Nightstalker” Ramirez was driven to commit murder from hearing the backward messages “I’m the law,” “my name is Lucifer,” and “she belongs in Hell” on the AC/DC album Highway to Hell. In 1990 Judas Priest was taken to court by families who claimed that two young men in Nevada had formed a suicide pact after hearing hidden messages in the song “Better By You, Better Than Me.” The case was dismissed by the judge for insufficient evidence.
I remember being in Catholic school in the 80’s and hearing constantly about backward masking. A song which was touted as one of the “clearest examples” of backward messages being placed into popular music was “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. It was claimed that playing the chorus backwards gave you the hidden message “It’s fun to smoke marijuana.” To be honest, if you use your imagination just a bit, it does kiiiinda sound like Freddie Mercury is saying that… but really only if you’d ALREADY BEEN SMOKING marijuana.
A great deal of the backward masking hysteria was spread by cable TV evangelist Gary Greenwald, who hosted a religious television program called The Eagle’s Nest. Greenwald crusaded against rock music, both on his program and through a series of popular audio tapes (which were the subject of great deal of sampling and laughing at by punks and metalheads in the ‘80s). Greenwald claimed most rock music contained demonically-inspired backward masking. He has also railed against action figures and Saturday morning cartoons, which he believed were influenced by the occult.
Listen, after the jump…