Whatever happened to the goold old days of finding backwards messages in Beatles songs? Now it's Brittney Spears & Avril Lavigne?!?!?!? I did note that Floyd was the only band to have clear discernible speech.
http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB1 ... zkzWj.html
Behind the Music:
Sleuths Seek Messages
In Lyrical Backspin
Reverse-Play Audio Software
Uncovers Smoke, Satan;
A Led Zeppelin Enigma
By DIONNE SEARCEY
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 9, 2006; Page A1
When Jeff Milner installed software on his Web site that could play digital songs in reverse, he tested it with a snippet of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." The song, heard normally, refers to "a bustle in your hedgerow." Played backward, says Mr. Milner, the line sounds like: "Oh, here's to my sweet Satan."
Today, Mr. Milner's Web site plays parts of songs from the Eagles, John Lennon, Britney Spears, Eminem and others -- both normally and in reverse. Mr. Milner, a Canadian college student majoring in new media, offers interpretations of the reverse-plays. A line in Ms. Spears's "Baby One More Time," played backward, becomes "Sleep with me, I'm not too young," Mr. Milner claims. What sounds like mumbling in Pink Floyd's "Empty Spaces," Mr. Milner says, becomes more intelligible in reverse: "Congratulations, you have just discovered the secret message."
Playing songs backwards -- a popular pastime from the days of turntables -- went out of fashion when CDs arrived. But now it's enjoying a new cult following thanks to Web sites and software that do the trick. Mr. Milner says his site (jeffmilner.com/backmasking.htm) has attracted more than 3.5 million visitors.
Listen to popular songs forward and reverse, and read the possible reverse lyrics. Also, upload and reverse your own audio files.Some bands deny engaging in the practice, known as backmasking. Message-hunters have said "Another One Bites the Dust," the classic-rock hit by Queen, contains the backward message: "It's fun to smoke marijuana." Says a spokeswoman for Hollywood Records, the band's label: "It's not true."
"I'm sure it's not intentional," says a spokesman for Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones about the alleged satanic reference in "Stairway to Heaven." "And I don't believe they've ever discussed it."
BP Fallon, who worked as Led Zeppelin's publicist during its 1970s heyday, added in an email message: "Play anything backwards, and you'll find something." He suggested that the mysterious backward lyric might actually be: "Oh, here's to my sweaty satin," a reference to guitarist Jimmy Page's trousers.
Asked about a supposed satanic reverse-message in "Hotel California," a spokesman for the Eagles said: "We refuse to dignify this kind of tripe with a response." Representatives for Ms. Spears and Pink Floyd did not respond to calls seeking comment.
The search for hidden messages in music first gained popularity decades ago after Michigan disc jockey Russ Gibb, prompted by a caller, put a Beatles song, "Revolution 9," on his turntable and spun it backward. He said he thought he heard: "Turn me on, dead man." His observation fed rumors that Paul McCartney was dead. Mr. McCartney eventually turned up very much alive, but that didn't stop music fans from finding all sorts of alleged backward messages when they spun their other records in reverse.
Mr. McCartney's spokesman said the ex-Beatle was unavailable for comment, but he noted he had never heard the subject of secret messages come up with Mr. McCartney. "There's a lot of Beatle folklore out there," he added.
The advent of compact discs made the search for hidden messages nearly impossible for most music fans, at first. Software released in recent years, widely available and free, lets music lovers who have never touched a turntable play songs backward and share them on Web sites. Dozens of sites and message boards have cropped up to trumpet discoveries of alleged secret lyrics.
Talkbackwards.com, one of the most popular, allows visitors to feed in audio files, then play them backward. Eric Borgos, the site's 36-year-old creator, said he wanted to find a way to bring the former fad to the Internet, and to make it easier for listeners to uncover messages on their own. His site, which he says gets about 2,000 hits a day, offers no interpretations of reversed lyrics. Instead, it invites users to share their own.
In some cases, such as in Pink Floyd's "Empty Spaces," clear words emerge. More often, however, vocals sound garbled, leaving listeners puzzling over whether the words they hear are intentional messages or just flukes.
Mr. Borgos's site contains links to others where snippets of speeches by well-known people are played in reverse, sometimes slowed down considerably. One of the sites claims California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial acceptance speech, when reversed and slowed, sounds like: "Soon, I'll beat the law."
The governor's spokeswoman, Margita Thompson, responded by email: "Sgurd gnisu eb yam yeht ekil sdnuos ti esuaceb wal eht kcab taeb ot evah yam siht did ohw elpoep eht, noos." Her backward translation: "Soon, the people who did this may have to beat back the law because it sounds like they may be using drugs."
Mr. Borgos thinks most alleged messages are just coincidence. "Mathematically, if you listen long enough, eventually you'll find a pattern," he says.
More conspiracy-minded practitioners believe that messages are deliberately placed in music. Some even contend that such messages are conveyed subliminally when the recordings are played normally.
Martin Bledsaw, a high-school senior from Decatur, Ill., has reversed everything from Ms. Spears's songs to those recorded by his pastor's Christian band. "Subliminal-wise, I don't believe any of that," he says. "I just think it's kind of funny. It's very simple -- just a couple clicks and it's going. It's kind of addictive."
Daniel Berger, who lives in New South Wales in Australia, was skeptical when a friend told him "Stairway to Heaven" contained backward satanic messages. "Naturally, I thought the person that told me this was absolutely insane," Mr. Berger said in an email message. He logged onto a Web site to find out for himself. "There indeed was a whole new song there when played backwards," he said.
With that, Mr. Berger was hooked. He aims to make original discoveries. He thinks he may have one in Avril Lavigne's song, "Sk8er Boi," which he thinks in reverse, might contain the message: "Hey, I want sushi." Concedes Mr. Berger: "That might be a stretch." A spokeswoman for Ms. Lavigne said: "This would be news to me."
During the first round of secret-message hunting more than three decades ago, some parents, social psychologists and other critics worried a diabolical effort was under way to corrupt children. Some religious groups feared satanic messages had been inserted. Musical satirist Weird Al Yankovic seemed to toy with the critics in his song "Nature Trail to Hell" which includes a clearly audible backward message: "Satan eats Cheez Whiz."
The revival of message hunting has spawned new critics. Joseph Wasmond, president of the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Freedom in Christ Ministries, says he is concerned about secret messages because it has become so easy to share music files over the Internet. "There is the potential for manipulating people's behavior based on subliminal and subconscious music," says Mr. Wasmond.
But James Walker, president of Watchman Fellowship, a Christian group that studies religious movements and subcultures, sees the hunt for messages as harmless. "You could take a Christian hymn, and if you played it backwards long enough at different speeds, you could make that hymn say anything you want to," he says.
Write to Dionne Searcey at email@example.com
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