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The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Backmasking in Stairway to Heaven by Paul Crouch, Jr.

stairway to heaven

This is the ninety-ninth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Paul Crouch, Jr, explaining to his parents the backmasking supposedly found in Led Zeppelin’s classic rock song, Stairway to Heaven.

Video Link

Speaking of the backmasking controversy, Wikipedia states:

In a January 1982 television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted by Paul Crouch, it was claimed that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backmasking. One example of such hidden messages that was prominently cited was in “Stairway to Heaven”. The alleged message, which occurs during the middle section of the song (“If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now…”) when played backward, was purported to contain the Satanic references “Here’s to my sweet Satan” and “I sing because I live with Satan.”

Following the claims made in the television program, California assemblyman Phil Wyman proposed a state law that would require warning labels on records containing backward masking. In April 1982, the Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee of the California State Assembly held a hearing on backward masking in popular music, during which “Stairway to Heaven” was played backward. During the hearing, William Yarroll, a self-described “neuroscientific researcher”, claimed that backward messages could be deciphered by the human brain.

The band itself has for the most part ignored such claims. In response to the allegations, Swan Song Records issued the statement: “Our turntables only play in one direction — forwards.” Led Zeppelin audio engineer Eddie Kramer called the allegations “totally and utterly ridiculous. Why would they want to spend so much studio time doing something so dumb?” Robert Plant expressed frustration with the accusations in a 1983 interview in Musician magazine: “To me it’s very sad, because ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that’s not my idea of making music.”


Series Navigation<< The Sounds of Fundamentalism: He is Alive by Parody QueenThe Sounds of Fundamentalism: The Evils of Rock Music by Mike King >>


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    So this fellow sits in a room and plays music backwards to see if he can hear what he fears, what his paranoid Christian life encourages him to hear. Imagine it for a moment… See him listening to one of the finest bands in modern history BACKWARDS again and again and again and then sharing it as gospel insight. Holy mother-fucking monkey doo-doo on a Wednesday for brekkie! This guys are every bit as whacko as you can be without an LSD excuse.

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    Wow, this brings back memories. I recall the whole backmasking craziness from my teenage years. I vividly remember a news clip about one of the crusades in which teenagers were throwing their LPs onto the pile to be burned. The mass hysteria was painfully obvious when I spotted a copy of The Lord’s Prayer and other Christian songs by popular artists of the time in the bonfire.

    Note for any youngsters: LP stands for long-playing record. That’s how we Gen Xers listened to our music back in the stone age. 🙂

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    Paul Crouch, Jr. visited the very evangelical Free Will Baptist Church I attended as a kid with this circus show. I saw this up close and personal, and I honestly believed it at the time, because I didn’t know any better. Just found you because I was talking to a young man I work with about this phenomenon. Funny to watch the video…thanks for posting.

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