Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Musical Tastes: My Personal Adventures in Music (Pt. 2)

The Evils of Rock and Roll

Back in September I began a little series on my musical journeys and how I have developed my convictions about music both Christian and secular. I wanted to continue my testimony with this post.

I had mentioned in the first post how I was pretty much like every other teenager who loved top 40 radio music, and I was beginning to really enjoy music videos which were then coming on the youth culture scene.

I believe I left off telling how my family moved from Missouri to Arkansas the summer immediately before the start of my sophomore year in high school. When my family moved, we left attending a liberal minded United Methodist church to joining a strictly conservative Free-will Baptist church where my mother's side of the family all attended. It was certainly an obvious night and day experience for me.

For example, "worship" in the Methodist Sunday school class consisted of us kids singing 60s, hippy commune style songs like One Tin Soldier and Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head, followed by a 20 minute lesson on some point of situational ethics. The leadership at this Methodist Church had no desire to cultivate in me a Christian perspective on evaluating secular music. They seemed more concerned with my participation in the "trick-or-treat" for UNICEF fund raiser every October and earning my perfect attendance pins.

The Free-will Baptist Sunday school class, on the other hand, consisted of us singing hymns and followed by an overview of a biblical passage. Even though the teaching was simplistic, the folks did believe the Bible and attempted to seriously live their faith.

It was in this context that I was told all about the damning evils of secular rock music. Unlike the leadership in my old Methodist church who didn't care about what I listened to, the folks in my new church did care. Unfortunately, it was a perspective with a whole lot of light, but no heat; much emotion with little substance. Apparently, all secular music was nothing but Satan breaking wind - from the very pit of hell itself. A yellow cloud of sulfur hovered over all the rock and roll bands and if a person was to ever attend a concert, he would run the risk of coming home with the smell of rotten eggs still clinging to his body.

My church would occasionally host rock and roll seminars for the teenagers in which an ingenuous fellow rigged up a record player to spin in the opposite direction so he could hear all the backward messages the devil put into the music.

Now, anyone raised in the southern Bible-belt, or any fundamentalist church environment, has had to sit through either a lecture or film presentation on the subject of backward, subliminal messages in rock and roll songs. On one hand, you had those rock groups who intentionally placed backward messages in their songs, like the Beatles; but, on the other hand, there were those songs that had darker, more sinister backward messages the rock group never intended to put in their music. They were the demonic kind driven by evil spirits, because, it was argued, no human being could figure out how to sing the right combination of words so as to have a satanic audio message be heard when the music was played backwards.

During the lecture, the speaker would pontificate on the evils of rock music, the devilish messages the songs put forth, and then he would transition into the climax of his talk on backward messages and say something like, "This is what the song sounds like on the radio," and then he would play a clip from a popular rock song. He then would become ominous, lower his voice and say, "Now... this is what it sounds... like.... backwards...." and proceed to play the exact same music clip in reverse on his engineered record player.

The song would sound something like this:


The guy would exclaim, "Did you hear that!? Your being told to "worship Satan!"

He then would play it again and maybe a couple of times more and sure enough, after being told WHAT to listen for, I could have sworn the particular group was telling me to worship Satan even though it sounded more like "warship stay young."

Probably the most famous satanically inspired backward masked song was Queen's Another One Bites the Dust that supposedly tells a person to smoke marijuana even though when you listen to the song, it sounds more like "marry your iguana." Was Queen saying to do drugs or engage in bestiality?

I remember coming home from church one Saturday evening after I had sat through one of these rock and roll lectures. I told my dad about how I heard these songs played backwards and they had Satanic messages in them. He asked me, "Oh really? What does the devil say if you play the Star Spangled Banner backwards?" That hadn't occurred to me.

Anyhow, I was also shown how the names of many of the popular rock and roll groups, particularly the metal groups, were really acrostics for what the band members were truly all about. For example:

RUSH stood for Ruling Under Satan's House. (Others inserted Rulers)

AC/DC stood for Anti-Christ/ Devil Child

and of course, who couldn't forget what KISS stood for? Kings In Satan's Service. And to think that KISS was the only Satanic rock group with their own line of G.I. Joe style action figures with all the accessories. The devil likes merchandise.

I also learned that a devil had possessed Jimmy Page when he wrote the Led Zeppelin classic, Stairway to Heaven, that Ozzy Osbourne routinely drank cups of bat's blood, the Eagles song, Hotel California, was an ode to Anton Levey and the Church of Satan, DIO read upside down spelled Devil (though it looks more like DEVE), and any music not performed in 2/4 time with an off beat could possibly open you up for demonic torment.

Even though I would get all weirded out for a few days after attending one of these rock and roll symposiums, I still enjoyed my secular music. Besides, in my mind, I never listened to many of those "satanic" rock groups any how. I was more into Duran Duran, Yes, Prince, and Men at Work, and their names were never mentioned as groups whose songs contained backward, satanic messages. I think at the time the hardest bands I listened to was Van Halen and ZZ Top, and they were about partying, not worshipping the devil, at least that is how I saw it. Only groups like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and AC/DC had satanically energized messages hidden backwards in their music.

Now, as a mature Christian looking backwards (pun intended) upon all of these sensational claims about rock music and subliminal messages, I grimace at the thought that fundamentalist youth leaders wasted their time pouring over songs reading into every garbled sound the voice of a demon corrupting the minds of the youth. I find it particularly appalling seeing that practically every rock and roll band who allegedly had satanic backward messages in their music plainly had them when the songs were listened to normally. Perhaps they weren't singing about teenagers pulling on sheep leggings and dancing around a sacrificial snake altar, but they were certainly promoting an alternative, anti-biblical world view at their concerts and on their albums. Usually it was aimed at free sex, drugs, and adult authorities are idiots.

I believe now that these youth leaders were hunting down chimeras when they could have been teaching their teenagers to think biblically about the lyric content of their favored bands. That includes more than the sinister metal bands who are usually the objects of these witch-hunts. That of course implies a pastorally leadership willing to lay down a solid, biblical foundation in the hearts of these kids, but sadly, they were more into highlighting the fantastic and turning the devil into a superstition rather than teaching solid theology and doctrinal content.

Well, some time after moving to Arkansas, I experienced a radical shift in my musical tastes, because I went from listening to secular music to a steady diet of Contemporary Christian. That is where I will take up my testimony next time.

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Blogger Paul Doutell said...

Fred, what could anyone say after a post like that, except:


3:53 PM, November 15, 2006  
Blogger Steve P said...

I wonder what you would hear if you played some sermons backwards? lol

Great Post. I'm looking forward to the rest of them.
I'll admit that my musical tastes would probably be looked down upon by a lot of 'Christians'. Although, to many, going to the movies and dancing with my wife at a wedding would also be looked down upon.
There are some things I used to listen to that offend me now, and those things have been removed from my collection. I tend to listen to music more from a musicians stand point. I enjoy the guitar work of say, Stevie Ray Vaughn, as much as I do an orchestra playing classical music.

Anyway, just my opinion. (everyone has different musical tastes.)

8:13 AM, November 16, 2006  
Blogger Mike-e said...

Great post Fred. And I totally agree with you about how we should be teaching our children how to think Biblically rather than what a Kiss record might sound like backwards.

I think that IF someone is going to judge a fellow believer, I don't think it will do a bit of good to cast them into the seventh level of Hell for listening to a Weezer cd. I think it would be better to judge on how they live their lives, not on what music they listen to.

2:07 PM, November 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Fundy friend of mine saw that I like "Christian Rock" on my blog profile.

She's has been giving me some grief about it (yet her church is full of racists and they don't seem to mind that....Go figure??

Legalism stinks. ROCK ON!!

3:01 PM, November 16, 2006  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

It's kind of funny. Ray Comfort was connected to the southern baptist. I don't know if he still is, but he has this audio at www.biblicalevangelism.com on the devil. His audio includes how he thinks punk rock is ruining a lot of young people. I do agree that songs called "butcher baby" are very sickening and evil. He included some stuff from AC/DC, alice cooper. A lot of freds post about southern fundy baptist reminds me of stuff I heard on Ray's audios. Either way I know God uses a lot of what www.wayofthemaster.com teaches.

3:31 PM, November 16, 2006  
Blogger Pickle Boy said...

The other day I mentioned to my pastor that I've been running regularly on my treadmill while listening to my ipod. He had the nerve to ask me what I was listening to today while running. I had to confess that it was Pink Floyd's "The Wall." But that's ok, because he has the "Dark Side of the Moon" CD on his office shelf, so it must be ok. ; )

"There is no dark side of the moon, really. As a matter of fact it's all dark."

4:16 PM, November 16, 2006  
Blogger Pat Howell said...

Hey Fred,

Interesting post...most folks don't know but I was quite heavily involved in what is now known as "Classic Rock" in my BC days. Worked security for or saw most of the groups now popular with a new generation--there is a reason its called "Classic Rock." :-)

I recall serving as an Asst. Pastor in southern Minnesota and the pastors wife led a group of ladies down to the church's radio station to listed to Stairway to Heaven backwards. I wanted to tell them that in the 1000's of times I played that album neither myelf nor my freak freinds ever listened to it backwards...but thought better of it.

I recently heard Ozzie being interviewed and he was asked the question about BS's involvement in witchcraft. To quote, "...we couldn't conjure up a fart."

It's a funny world...

8:41 AM, November 27, 2006  

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