backmasking history

Backmasking Text File

Here’s an interesting little text file from 1983 that Jason Scott has in this vast archive of BBS files, backmask.txt, that delves into the history, technology, and social aspects of backmasking.

From the text file by William Poundstone:

TV programs such as PRAISE THE LORD and THE 700 CLUB have propagated rumors of a satanic plot in the recording industry, no less, in which various albums conceal “backward-masked” demonic murmurings. If THAT sounds too spacey to be taken seriously, consider that it was the fundamentalist groups who were behind House Resolution 6363, a bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Robert K. Dornan (R., Calif.) in 1982 to label all suspect records: “WARNING: THIS RECORD CONTAINS BACKWARD MASKING THAT MAKES A VERBAL STATEMENT WHICH IS AUDIBLE WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED BACKWARD AND WHICH MAY BE PERCEPTIBLE AT A SUBLIMINAL LEVEL WHEN THIS RECORD IS PLAYED FORWARD.”

Many of the original rumours I heard about backmasking when I was a kid are in this file. It’s interesting to note that the claims of what exactly each songs says when played backwards has continued to evolve over the years.


Jesus Cat

Everybody loves the Jesus Cat. (371k .swf with sound)

Jason Scott explains:

I happened to show this to an IRC channel, and linked to a “stuff I have lying around” directory on one of my servers.

Two days later, 91,000 people visited.

And it was that specific URL too, and since I didn’t put it anywhere other than that channel, once, it meant someone gave it to someone else, or pasted it in another IRC channel, and then it just exploded outward. I see 3,000 matches for the original URL, and if you spend the time browsing them, you find lots of commentary. I’ll save you time and tell you the general responses:

  • Hilarious!
  • Stupid.
  • That cat’s not REALLY walking on water.
  • This reminds me of endless other cat stuff HERE’S SOME LINKS
  • I will now riff on the idea of a cat as a savior for the next paragraph.

91,000 throws it way past anything I’ve done, ever with regards to serving a popular file. Some of the others might have more longevity over the Jesus Cat (the Goatse article, for example, is still packing them in a year later) but for sheer popularity, Jesus Cat stands above them all.

God bless his wet, matted little fur.