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backmasking

Backmasking

During a 1974 interview published in Rolling Stone Magazine, Paul McCartney discussed the many hidden meanings in The Beatles’ work that consumed obsessive fans. He mentioned that some people believed the cover of Abbey Road to contain clues revealing that he died. He pointed out that it’s easy to see hidden meanings in things if you were looking for hidden meanings.

He also discussed backmasking. Backmasking is the phenomenon in which artists will put backward messages in their songs. (See my backmasking page). While there are some examples of intentional backmasking, other times fans hear messages in songs played backward the artist did not intentionally put there. For example, Paul admitted that one of the songs from Sgt. Pepper sounds like it included the f-word when played backward even though he wasn’t aware of this until after the album’s completion.

From the 1974 interview with Paul McCartney (also Linda) in Rolling Stone Magazine:

[Paul:] Once you get analyzing something and looking into it, things do begin to appear and things do begin to tie in. Because everything ties in, and what you get depends on your approach to it. You look at everything with a black attitude and it’s all black.

This other idea of Paul Is Dead. That was on for a while. I had just turned up at a photo session and it was at the time when Linda and I were just beginning to knock around with each other steadily. It was a hot day in London, a really nice hot day, and I think I wore sandals. I only had to walk around the corner to the crossing because I lived pretty nearby. I had me sandals on and for the photo session I thought I’ll take my sandals off.

Linda: No, you were barefoot.

Paul: Oh, I was barefoot. Yeah, that’s it. You know, so what? Barefoot, nice warm day, I didn’t feel like wearing shoes. So I went around to the photo session and showed me bare feet. Of course when that comes out and people start looking at it they say, “Why has he got no shoes on? He’s never done that before.” OK, you’ve never seen me do it before, but, in actual fact, it’s just me with my shoes off. Turns out to be some old Mafia sign of death or something.

Then the this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it’s really nothing. Take the end of Sgt. Pepper, that backward thing, “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” Some fans came around to my door giggling. I said, “Hello, what do you want?” They said, “Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says ‘We’ll f— you like Supermen’.” I said, “No, you’re kidding. I haven’t heard it, but I’ll play it.” It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went inside after I’d seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor, turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. “We’ll f— you like Supermen.” I thought, Jesus, what can you do?

And then there was “I buried Paul.”

That wasn’t “I buried Paul” at all, that was John saying “cranberry sauce.” It was the end of “Strawberry Fields.” That’s John’s humor. John would say something totally out of synch, like “cranberry sauce.” If you don’t realize that John’s apt to say “cranberry sauce” when he feels like it, then you start to hear a funny little word there, and you think “Aha!”

When you were alive and presumed dead, what did you think?

Someone from the office rang me up and said, “Look, Paul, you’re dead.” And I said, “Oh, I don’t agree with that.” And they said, “Look, what are you going to do about it? It’s a big thing breaking in America. You’re dead.” And so I said leave it, just let them say it. It’ll probably be the best publicity we’ve ever had and I won’t have to do a thing except stay alive. So I managed to stay alive through it.

Paul is dead, but Chris Farley found out that he isn’t.

Categories
backmasking space

Man Will Spacewalk

With today being the 50th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s historic walk on the moon, I bring you this little classic reverse speech from the first words spoken on the surface of the moon which, when reversed, sound like “man will spacewalk”.

Neil Armstrong’s Moon Landing Speech Backwards

Play Forward

Forward:’a small step for a man’

Play in Reverse

Reverse: ‘Man will spacewalk.’

Also of interest, on this anniversary of scientific achievement, NASA has released a collection of 45 panoramic photos from the surface of the moon based on images stitched together from the various Apollo missions.

(Previously, on Jeffmilner.com.)

Categories
backmasking

The Fight to Save America from Backmasking

Just in time for Halloween, a fantastic article by Bryan Gardiner on the history and belief in backmasking, The Fight to Save America From Satan’s Subliminal Rock Messages.

After circulating pamphlets with the “backward masked” declarations spelled out, that’s precisely what Assemblyman Phillip Wyman and panel witness William H. Yarroll II did. The relevant portion of the eight-minute classic was first played forward for committee members and then reversed. Here’s what Wyman claimed could be heard: “I sing because I live with Satan. The Lord turns me off. There’s no escaping it. Here’s to my sweet Satan.” Yarroll, who identified himself as a “neuroscientist,” noted that a teenager need only listen to “Stairway to Heaven” three times before these backward messages were “stored as truth.”

Categories
backmasking

Trackbacks

The following are a selection of related blog postings about my backmasking site (for more, see my backmasking information page or search through posts labelled in the backmasking category):

Backmasking Questions
Summary: A few questions about backmasking to think about and, of course, reader opinions via comments.
Posted: 2006.02.13 – 12:24 pm

Your Backmasking Experiences
Summary: Please leave a comment here if you’re into the whole backmasking thing. Have you tried it? What have you found? Do you think there is something to it, or do you just think it’s all a coincidence? This is the place to leave your comments on what you’ve discovered from your own experimenting.
Posted: 2005.11.02 – 7:24 pm

Other Songs with Backmasking
Summary: I’ve been getting a lot of emails with requests for other songs that have backwards messages as well people sending me lists of songs that apparently have just that. Here are some excerpts (for those of you that care).
Posted: 2004.09.01 – 7:50 pm

Stairway to Heaven Backwards Full Lyrics
Summary: An email sharing his opinion on the lyrics to the whole Stairway to Heaven song played backwards.
Posted: 2004.11.06 – 10:36 am

Stairway to Heaven Backwards Interpretation
Summary: Some emails I have received and my personal interpretation of Stairway to Heaven. (Though now I’ve had some reason to change my interpretation—here it is nonetheless.)
Posted: 2004.02.17 – 12:22 pm

Stairway to Heaven Subliminal Messages
Summary: Some time ago I received an email from a professor at York University. He asked if he could use part of my Stairway to Heaven backwards site/idea for a class. Here you will find the conclusion of his experiment.
Posted: 2005.02.08 – 2:43 pm

Categories
backmasking

Simon Singh on Backmasking

Watch on A Dramatic Demonstration of the Power of Mental Frames on YouTube.

Categories
backmasking

Stairway to Heaven Backwards in HTML 5

I’m in the process of updating my backmasking page into HTML 5. That means I’m (trying to) use your browser’s built in audio playing abilities using the <audio> tag.

So far I’ve only updated the Stairway to Heaven clip, but I plan to go through them all.
Update: I’ve finished creating HTML 5 versions for each song. See the bottom of this post for individual links.

Unfortunately not all modern browsers support the proposed specifications (I’m looking at you Internet Explorer). I’ve tried to fix this by using an embedded Flash audio player for those that have out of date or non-future proof browsers. The irony of switching out of Flash and still being forced to keep Flash is not lost on me.

Please do me a favour by letting me know in the comments if the audio doesn’t work on the browser you’re using. It now works on the iPhone!

Here are the individual links (for permalink / bookmarking purposes):

Categories
backmasking

Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception

Michael Shermer talks about why people believe strange things, including the belief that there are secret messages in popular music when it’s played backwards.

[ted id=22]

Categories
backmasking

Backmasking in Lady Gaga’s Paparazzi

By popular request, from Lady Gaga’s debut album The Fame, comes a little clip out of track number three, Paparazzi reversed.

Personally, I can’t hear it even with the “reverse lyrics” showing. To me, Lucifer sounds more like moose-em-mouw, but the emails keep coming. For the record, I’m a complete skeptic.

(More backmasking clips)

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backmasking

Backmasking Reference in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

After watching The L Magazine’s The Evolution of the Modern Blockbuster Movie (via) I got thinking that I had never actually read the famous Batman – The Dark Knight Returns comic series (wikipedia entry) from 1986 that was used as a rough basis for Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).

I remember hearing about Frank Miller’s, soon to be a collector’s item, The Dark Knight Returns and had always wanted to read it, but I was a bit young for its graphic content and besides, I didn’t exactly have any disposable income for comics when I was 7.

However, as I read it this evening, I came across a page that I found pretty interesting. On page 89 of book two, the comic makes a reference to backmasking in Stairway to Heaven. I’m posting it here to show just one more way the legend crept into popular culture. The relevant panels after the jump.

Categories
backmasking psychology

Pareidolia

The Best of Wikipedia is a continually updated collection of some of the most interesting Wikipedia articles. Here’s one from yesterday:

Pareidolia – Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. There have been many instances of perceptions of religious imagery and themes—in 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on a tortilla she had made appeared similar to the traditional western depiction of Jesus Christ’s face. Thousands of people came to see the framed tortilla. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.

(via Best of Wikipedia)