Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Paul is Dead and Satan is Lord

At about age 13, I discovered Led Zeppelin. I'm tired of them now. Have been for some time, but back then... man, they rocked my world. Not only was it music I'd never heard the likes of before, but by my listening to it I was head and shoulders above the rest of the heathens in my grade (eighth.) THEY were still listening to Paula Abdul, New Kids on the Block, and Guns 'N Roses - the latter being the most popular band at school BY FAR, and whose very existence would not have been possible had Led Zeppelin not paved the way twenty years before. So... I liked to think of myself as a trendsetter even though the music predated me by seven or eight years so the trend had already been set - and passed - before I was even a mere embryo. But the fact that I was able to groove to music that only people my brothers age (eight years my senior) had any business listening to meant that I had an edge of superiority and one-upsmanship in an area, and at an age when I felt I had precious little else in my trophy case (Translation: I was a very awkard, insecure adolescent in Jr. High and Led Zeppelin, among other classic rock notables, allowed me to say, "Screw you, assholes. I listen to REAL music.") Little did I realize that two years later, once we all entered high school, knowledge of bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones were practially a requirement if you were to be deemed "cool", but by that time I was still no less awkward and had moved on to The Pixies and Nine Inch Nails anyway (Incidentally, Doolittle and Pretty Hate Machine are still in my top 10. Sadly, I can't say the same about any of the Zeppelin albums. Maybe I just played them a little too much.)

Anyway, it was shortly after I had immersed myself in the world of classic rock, that I actually began to research what I'd been listening to. There were the typical shouts of "Revolutionary!", "Pioneering!" and all that other nonsense, but when I dug a little deeper I started to see stuff written that got me a little concerned... stuff about all night devil-worshipping sessions at the home of Alastair Crowley and communication with Lucifer himself. Oh, ho ho! What conspiracy is this that I've stumbled across? The members of Led Zeppelin had sold their souls to the devil? Noooo.... surely not. This was heartbreak for a good little Catholic boy like myself. The proof, apparently, was all too evident when you played certain songs backwards. Take for example, this verse from the classic prom night hit 'Stairway To Heaven.' :

'If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now.
It's just a spring clean for the May queen.'

'Yes there are two paths you can go by, but in the log run
there's still time to change the road you're on.'

Nevermind the fact that the lyrics are ridiculous. I don't have a hedgerow. I don't even know what one is actually, or why it would be bustling if I did - but it's comforting to know the May queen is just cleaning it. Apparently however, when reversed this little ditty said, "My sweet Satan. The one whose little path would make me sad whose power is fake. He will give us 666. There was a little toolshed where he made us suffer, sad Satan."

For the record, I CANNOT believe I just typed that. You want to talk ridiculous lyrics.... but at age 13 I didn't know any better, and I decided I had to find out for myself. I grabbed my brothers LP and threw it on my parents turntable, switched the dial to between 33 1/3 and 45 RPM to disengage the drive train and manually moved it backwards. What I heard was a lot of gibberish that sounded remotely like what you read above. Still, it was close enough for me to think I had uncovered the conspiracy of the century. I was shocked, appalled and told anyone who would listen that Led Zeppelin were trying to poison us with satanic messages (this a full fifteen years after the albums release, never taking into account that if they
were trying to poison us, it apparently didn't work.)

And if THAT wasn't bad enough, after further research I discovered that Paul was DEAD!!! Huh? What? Paul McCartney, dumb dumb. He died in 1966 and was replaced with a look-alike.
Didn't you pay attention to the Beatles album covers? Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9, Number 9. Good Lord, how could I have allowed such a blinding wool to be pulled over my eyes? The horror!! I'm nothing but a dupe............

Sixteen years later, I know better... I think. After coming across this article in Scientific American (a bit of an oxymoron, don't you think?) by Michael Shermer, a self-proclaimed skeptic and a man who probably wouldn't believe Satan were in front of him even if he were impaled on his horns, I can breathe a little easier. My brain apparently was just searching for pattern recognition.. nothing else. Never underestimate the power of the human mind to find meaning and reason where there is none.

Still, with all this new fangled technology in our midst I can find ample reasons to think Paul really IS dead.. Take a look at his facial structure over the years, for example. And no longer do I have to move the turnable back manually - now we have sound recording technology to do it for us. Still sounds remotely like gibberish, but damn - there ARE some similarities.

Do I really think Paul is dead, and that Led Zep are going to cut out my heart and offer it to Beelzebub? Nope - not at all. But hell, at least it gave me something to write about.

Here are some backwards messages for your listening pleasure:

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven
: The very end of the song. The lyric forward is "And she's buying a stairway to heaven." Reverse it and it supposedly says, "Play backwards. Hear words sung."

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven: The aforementioned "bustle in the hedgerow lyric." Follow along with the transcription above, if you like.

The Beatles - Revolution 9: Forwards it just says "Number 9" over and over. Backwards it says "Turn me on, dead man" Ohhhhhh....kay.

**Ironic side note**

I was present at the birth of the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon conspiracy. As many of you know I worked for WZLX-FM in Boston for a few years. While I was an intern/producer for George Taylor Morris' midday show, I heard the caller when he phoned in and clued us all into what happened when you started playing Dark Side of the Moon at the 3rd roar of the MGM lion in the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. George mentioned it VERY briefly on air - maybe a ten second snippet... The rest, as they say is history.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh??? What exactly DOES happen when you play Dark Side of the Moon on the 3rd roar of the lion?

8:27 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Oh, come on. Are you really going to have me explain it? Click the link, dear lady, and find out!! You know, the one on the text that says "Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon?"

Seriously, it's some weird stuff. Many of the lyrics seem to correspond exactly with what's going on in the film and the sound effects used on the album match perfectly with various events (ex. Great Gig In the Sky is playing while the tornado touches down in Kansas) Coincidence? Almost certainly, as the article will explain - but still neat nonetheless.

8:33 PM  
Blogger Sean said...

Eric, your post about Stairway to Heaven reminds me of the Butthole Surfers album "Hairway to Steven"... Have you heard it? I haven't. But I heard it's one of their best. Boo-ya.

3:35 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Alas no, I haven't either but I've also heard good things. With track names like 'Julio Iglesias' and 'I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas' it's kind of hard to find fault with it...

3:41 PM  

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