You can listen to a song again and again and analyze it’s lyrics in depth but the true message may only be discovered if you listen to the song… Backwards?
Backmasking is a term used primarily in the music industry to denote a recording which contains sounds or lyrics which were recorded onto the track backwards but meant to be played forward. This process has been used for comical, satirical, political and even religious purposes since it’s first appearance on the music scene with the Beatle’s 1966 album, Revolver. However, since the 1980s when Christian groups claimed certain rock groups were using this method to implant subliminal Satanic messages into their songs the term “backmasking” has gained some negative connotations. There are literally hundreds of songs embedded with clandestine reverse messages but here is a list of some of the more mysterious and controversial…
1. Linkin Park – “Push Me Away” At one point of the song lead singer, Chester Bennington is screaming unintelligibly but if reversed this otherwise garbled bit of vocalization sounds like, “Everything falls apart even the people who never frown eventually break down./Everything has to end you’ll soon find we’re out of time left to watch it all unwind.”
2. Eminem – “Stimulate” This is one of the most plausible and intelligible backmasking messages. At the end of the song the reverse message says, “I’m not here to save you / I’m only here for the ride / So let me entertain you / And everything will be fine.”
3. Pink Floyd – “Empty Spaces” The backmasking in this song was certainly inserted intentionally as it says, “Hello, hunters. Congratulations. You’ve just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the funny farm, Chalfont.(voice in background) Roger! Carolyne is on the phone!” Some speculate that Roger Waters is congratulating anyone who purposefully sought out a backmasking message in the song and then goes on to direct the seeker to former Pink Floyd singer Syd Barrett (“Old Pink”) who suffered a mental breakdown and thus can be found on the “funny farm”, a term used to describe a psychiatric ward.
4. Petra – “Judas Kiss” In response to all the hearsay of hidden satanic messages in secular music, Petra, a Christian classic rock band, added a backmasking message of their own in the song “Judas Kiss”. It is at the very beginning of the song and originally sounds like a bunch of gibberish but when reversed says, “What are you looking for the Devil for, when you ought to be looking for the Lord?”
5. Britney Spears – “Baby one more time” This song off of Spears’ 1999 album …baby one more time presents a rather erotic message when the verse, “When I’m not with you I lose my mind/Give me a sign” is reversed to, “Ah, sleep with me,/I’m not too young.”
6. Electric Light Orchestra – “Fire On High” In this song Jeff Lynn is heard mumbling something inaudible behind a myriad of musical instruments but when reversed he is very clearly saying, “The music is reversible but time is not. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back.”
7. Led Zeppelin – “Stairway to Heaven” This famous Led Zeppelin track sits at the pinnacle of controversial backmasked songs. The verse in which Robert Plant sings, “”If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow/Don’t be alarmed now,/Its just a for the may queen./Yes, there are two paths you can go by/But in the long run/There’s still time to change the road you’re on” sounds like, “Oh here’s to my sweet Satan./The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is Satan./He will give those with him six six six./There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Satan” when played backwards. The accusations began in 1982 when an outspoken Baptist claimed over the radio that the song contained subliminal reverse messages. The band has paid little heed to these accusations save for Plant who said in an interview, “To me it’s very sad, because ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that’s not my idea of making music.” Whether this backwards message was placed with malicious intent or not it is still hard to deny that it sounds quite genuine when one listens to a reverse recording while reading the supposed lyrics.
The phenomena of backmasking has intrigued fans, psychologists, cynics, religious figureheads, and others for decades. There is a multitude of backmasked songs out there and certainly a great many to be discovered yet. The intention of these secret messages range from the comedic to the satanic. The fact is that many of these backwards recordings are merely a coincidence and were never intended to suggest anything at all. People will always fabricate ridiculous lyrical messages and upset some of the artists but at the same time it cannot be dismissed that some messages were quite clearly placed in certain songs for a purpose.