Backwards Masking Unmasked: A book review (in multiple parts)
I’m a sucker for cheap books. Especially cheap Christian books. Especially dodgy cheap Christian books at a library fire sale because nobody has ever borrowed them… I’m building quite a collection. With the intention of
inflicting them on you dear reader blogging my way through all of them.
First cab off the rank is Jacob Aranza’s “Backward Masking Unmasked” published in 1984. The book features an opening letter from a Senator of Louisiana. Senator Bill Keith describes the sinister nature of Rock’n’Roll as one of the “burning issues of our time” – in hindsight I think it’s fair to say that Keith was not a modern day prophet.
Jacob Aranza is described in his cover blurb as being one of the outstanding young ministers of America. And someone who was involved deeply in the drug/rock culture of Houston, Texas at the age of nine. He was obviously uniquely placed to provide insight into the evils of such bands as AC/DC, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Blondie, John Denver, Bette Midler, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Eric Clapton.
The book only briefly covers the cover issue. Backwards Masking. It features spurious quotes from lobby groups, a weird blend of quotes from disparate psychologists seemingly cherry picked to build a case, and a bunch of conspiracy theory like links between various bands and a particular Satanist. If anybody has seen John Safran’s Music Jamboree it’s a bit like watching him build a case against something – only Aranza is serious. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Safran had read this book – it also accuses the Beatles of adopting backmasking techniques in order to further their own conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney is dead (which featured on the show).
In future posts in this series I’ll be sharing some insights into the bands you shouldn’t be listening to. But let me close with a passage from the introduction.
“If you don’t think this music is affecting the values of young people then listen to a few letters that were written in response to the subject of backwards masking being used satanically by rock groups. These letters were taken out of Hit Parader magazine. Hit Parader is a very popular rock magazine read by young people between the ages of 8 to 18:
“In a recent Hit Parader, a coupe of your readers wrote about rock bands and Satanism. Big fricken deal! The listened to Stairway to Heaven backwards, I’ve heard it too. But I still listen faithfully to Led Zeppelin.” – Gary Walker, Washington.
“All these Satan/Rock comparisons are driving me up a wall. I’m a good Catholic, but I also love rock.” Stan Lapinski, Florida.
“The people who say that rock and roll music and the various groups are devil worshippers are ignorant, and don’t know what rock music is all about. It’s just music! It relieves people from all the everyday problems. If anything it helps people.” – Steve Crocker, Florida
You can plainly see that backward masking and the forward messages of rock have taken tremendous toll already by the responses of these young people. The statement they are making is clear, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.””
This introductory chapter concludes: “So hold on to your earphones, here we go!”
If you have a favourite 80s band you think might be satanic let me know in the comments and I’ll include them in subsequent posts.