Backwards masking: Ten songs that supposedly contain hidden messages when played in reverse
By Christian McPhate
For years, hidden messages have allegedly been embedded in music, cryptic musings that could only be heard by playing the vinyl backwards. Backwards masking, as this phenomenon became known, centered on songs by bands like Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, acts that supposedly implanted subliminal satanic messages in their music. Keep reading to see which ten songs purportedly contain hidden messages.
10. "Hell Awaits" - Slayer
Slayer didn't need to jump on the backmasking wagon, and I didn't need to listen to their hidden message - "Join us" - over and over to purchase their 1985 album. I was hooked as soon as Kerry King raked his pick across the strings of his demonic guitar.
9. "665" - Soundgarden
Some enthusiasts claim that when Chris Cornell used, "I love you Santa, baby; Santa is my king" as his hidden message, he was simply parodying other Satanic bands who hid messages from the dark lord in their lyrics. Joe Dirt, an elderly custodian who sometimes travels with the band, claims that the rock star meant to say "Satan," but he just pissed off the wrong sound mixer.
8. "Tourniquet" - Marilyn Manson
"This is my lowest point of vulnerability," explains Manson when you play this song backwards. It's an unusual message. But never fear, Manson is notorious for backmasking other messages, from "I'm gonna kill you, kill yourself, kill yourself" in "Dope Hat" to "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world" in "Revelation #9."
7. "Better By You Better Than Me" - Judas Priest
"In the dead of the night, love bites" is just one of the infamous messages spewed by Judas Priest. A different hidden message, "Do it," led to the band standing trial in 1990, after two young men committed suicide, allegedly prompted by the band's message.
6. "Empty Spaces" - Pink Floyd
"Congratulations. You have just discovered the secret message. Please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont." When I heard this message, I thought for sure I'd receive a prize for discovering the hidden meaning. I even sent a letter in care of the Funny Farm. Later, a friend told me that Roger Waters was simply referring to Syd Barrett. So I sent him a letter as well, but never received a reply.
5. "Hot Poop" (Originally "Mother People") - Frank Zappa
"Better look around before you say you don't care/Shut your fucking mouth 'bout the length of my hair/How would you survive/If you were alive/Shitty little person?" After hearing these words as a teenager, I quit cutting my hair and stayed locked in my room for a month, questioning the meaning of the labyrinth that spirals around all things. I never did find the answer, but I did enjoy smoking all of my best friend's weed trying to understand.
4. "Dinner at Deviant's Palace" - Cradle of Filth
Listening to the Lord Prayer's backwards would send you straight to a fiery stake in the days of the Puritans. Today, it simply conjures a horde of demons to whisk you away to the local McDonald's for another round of Happy Meals. I'm still not sure which is worse.
3. "Snowblind" - Styx
If you play this song backwards for about 33 minutes, you'll finally understand the hidden message: "Satan moves through our voices." Yet it still didn't move me to buy the band's album.
2. "Stairway to Heaven" - Led Zeppelin
When my best friend first played this record backwards, I was fourteen and seducing his sister in his parents' bedroom. The eerie crackling helped to set the mood, but when the words "Here's to my sweet Satan" echoed through the speakers, I thought he said "Santa" and started to laugh and ruined the mood. I hated this song for years.
1. "Revolution 9" - The Beatles
During my backmasking heyday, I played my aunt's Beatles album backwards just for the hell of it, so imagine my surprise when I heard: "Turn me on, dead man... turn me on, dead man... turn me on, dead man." Talk about scary. I still shiver when I hear Paul McCartney's voice.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.