Saturday, November 10, 2007

Murolces odro suvon sitpeoc tiunna

There was one night in college when I would have gotten a lot more sleep if I'd had Goldwave and its simple "reverse" button. Rigging cassettes to play backwards took hours, but at least it gave me full authority to call b*llsh*t on the PTL Club.

One night, it was a Friday or Saturday or I wouldn't have stayed up because I had a music theory class at 8:00 AM every weekday, my room-mate and I couldn't sleep and despaired of anything to watch on TV and saw this one episode of the PTL Club. It was back when the Bakker's were still married. We watched it because they were talking about alleged "backward satanic masking" in rock songs. Well, I was already a compulsive taper. Whenever I bought a record, the first time I played it, I recorded it to cassette. Then I listened only to the cassette to protect the record from damage and wear. So I had plenty of blank cassettes, and between myself and my room-mate we had a fairly respectable record collection and had many of the songs they were talking about. When you record to cassette, the magnetic information is transcribed all the way through the tape, you see, and although the sound quality is degraded on the reverse side, it is still intelligible, although it helps to turn the treble way up to make it more understandable. My blank cassettes were the kind that were put together with actual screws. So you just tape the songs you want to hear backwards, then open the cassette and laboriously rewind the tape so that the reverse side becomes the "outside" that runs across the play head in your tape deck. Thus you get to hear everything backwards.

But now with software like Goldwave you just select the bit you want to hear backwards and hit the "reverse" button. Handy.

One of the main songs they were picking on was "Snowblind" by Styx, from the Paradise Theater album. Although we listened to it backwards many times, neither of us could ever hear anything that would indicate a "backward masking." I thought it was significant that they were focusing on an anti-drug song. All of this nonsense was what led Styx to create the Kilroy Was Here album, which does contain one obvious and intentional backward mask. Just before the song "Heavy Metal Poisoning" James Young speaks the words "Annuit coeptis novus ordo seclorum" which is recorded backwards.

So without a proper segue, here's the Saturday Night Random 20. Load the entire mp3 collection in Winamp, randomize the list, and here they are.

1. Jimmy Smith & Dr. John -- Only in it for the Money
2. Three Dog Night -- Black and White
3. Tonight -- George Michael (from Two Rooms, the Elton John tribute collection)
4. Shawn Colvin -- Shotgun Down the Avalanche
5. Elvis Costello -- But Not For Me
6. Angelo Badalamenti -- The Nightingale (Twin Peaks soundtrack, vocals by Julee Cruise)
7. The Residents -- Devotion?
8. Sean Washburn -- Between the Heartbeats
9. Acoustic Alchemy -- Playing for Time
10. Suzanne Vega -- Knight Moves
11. R.E.M. -- Don't Go Back to Rockville
12. Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper -- Wash No Dishes No More
13. Bela Fleck & the Flecktones -- Shocktime
14. 1919 Fruitgum Co. -- Special Delivery (from a compilation of Bubblegum one-hit wonders)
15. Bill Monroe -- Doghouse Blues
16. Stanley Turrentine -- Sugar
17. Midnight Oil -- Blue Sky Mine
18. 10,000 Maniacs -- Hateful Hate
19. The Who -- Baba O'Riley
20. Pat Metheny -- Solar


  1. Ok, I do't speak atin (or Greek)...what's it mean?

    And thanks for the codes, they'll come in handy for the (hopefully) Line locating job in Helotis.

  2. Latin. They are on our paper currency, from the Great Seal of the U.S.

    "Annuit coeptis" means "to favor a new undertaking."

    "Novus ordo seclorum" means "new order of the ages."

    The phrases have nothing to do with the album or the song. They just picked something that sounded cool, I guess.

    1. Actually, they gave a lot to do with the album's story line of musical revolution and societal reform. They chose well.

  3. LOL! This is so funny because I remember very well the 'back-masking' craze of the 70s and early 80s. A tiny minority of evangelical Christianity believed that some of the rock groups were into Satan worship and used back-masking to send messages to their 'followers'--fans.

    The thing is, when I actually heard some of the intentional messages done by backward masking, it was all very innocent--certainly not Satanic and certainly nothing sinister.

  4. Another one that is obvious and intentional is by E.L.O., but I can't remember which song. The backwards part says, "The words are reversible, but time is not. Turn back, turn back, turn back..."

    The really ridiculous part of this show that we saw was that the Bakkers claimed that many of these backward maskings were not put there by the artists. They were put there by Satan himself.

    And Jim said that he had listened to one of the Tammy Faye's records backwards and heard Christian backwards maskings on it.

    Jim: "Did you put them there when you made that record?"

    Tammy: "No, I did not! Hallelujah! It's a miracle! Jesus put them there!"

    It was all so mind-bogglingly stupid.