Led Zeppelin - Backmasked Messages?

This should be with my previous post about Led Zeppelin but I just forgot. A was skimming through a thread about lyrics in songs and I was reminded of something. Is there any proof of there being backward lyrics in “Stairway to Heaven”?


“Life is infinitely stranger than the mind of man can imagine.”

  • A. Conan Doyle

I’ve played it backwards myself or rather had it played backwards by a friend who wanted to “prove” it was backmasked. Though it does clearly say “my sweet satan” towards the end I seriously doubt this was intended. Most likely it is a coincidental string of sylables that sound like words when played backwards. It does have that eerie etherial sound to it like most backwards speech which makes it nice and creepy though.

I’ve heard it say “Here’s to my sweet satan”, I always thought it was funny that there is a mention of satan when you play a song about heaven backwards

Formerly known as Nec3f on the AOL SDMB

Notice, of course, the hidden message:
nevae hot ya wriats

Puhleeeze. You play something backwards, you get gibberish. The ear/mind tries to interpret from the gibberish. Even when things are played forward, you get grotesque mis-hearing, like the famous Disney Alladin saying “Hey, teens, have sex” or something silly like that.

My son was convinced that Richard Stand was an important American because he heard the pledge of allegiance, “…and to the Republic for Richard Stand.”

Give it up. Paul isn’t dead. Elvis is. Satanic messages aren’t wound into popular songs played backwards.

Get thee to a library, friend. Check out Big Secrets by William Poundstone. He listened to a bunch of songs (including “Stairway to Heaven”) with supposed backwards messages and reported his findings. For extra credit get Bigger Secrets and Biggest Secrets also. More backwards songs and lots of other interesting and entertaining stuff besides.


Full of 'satiable curtiosity

EvilGhandi and Joey P,
Did you listen to the record after being asked “Can you hear anything, here?” or after being asked “Don’t you hear ‘my sweet satan’ right here?”?

On more than one occasion I have seen the results of tests for backward masking. A single recording is played in reverse for three groups. There are always three scenarios with three fairly predictable outcomes:

  1. What do you hear?
    Result - nearly all the audience hears gibberish

  2. Do you hear any words, here?
    Result - many (not most) in audience report hearing words–no two people hear the same words

  3. Do you hear the phrase “yadda-yadda-yadda”?
    Result - significant number of people in audience hear the phrase “yadda-yadda-yadda”, but many hear minor variations on the phrase.


Of course, the problem with the backward masking craze of the seventies is that most people tried to hear the stuff by forcing their turntables to go in reverse, which results in a wildly uncontrollable speed. My brother and I found a way to re-thread a reel-to-reel tape recorder so it played music backwards at a constant speed. We heard several things in “Stairway to heaven” (I don’t remember what they were anymore), a few things in some Rush songs, and, of course, we verified that the refrain of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” says “it’s fun to smoke marijuana” when played backwards.

The lab where I used to work had a fancy computer with amazing capabilities for manipulating sounds. We took a recording of one of Pink Floyd’s songs off “Dark Side Of The Moon”, I forget which one; you could play it backward at constant speed, and since it was digital there was no distortion. VERY clearly was the message (I’m going from memory, but the gist is right)

“Congratulations, you have found the secret message. To collect your prize send [something] to …” and a nonsense address followed. Obviously a joke by PF. Of course when you played the message forward there was an obvious smear of sound that corresponded to this message - I’ve never heard that smear anyplace else, that I recall.

If you play Bing Crosby records backwards do you hear “eat your vegetables, kids” ?


I think it was off of The Wall, during one of the more spacey parts. Don’t recall the exact cut, I never was a post WYWH fan. We did the reel to reel trick to listen to it. IIRC (which I doubt, given the subject matter and time frame being college) the message concluded with ‘please send your answer to Old Pink, care of the funny farm’. That may have been the phrase we were looking for, so that’s what I remember.

I had a 2 track recorder, so all we had to do was record and flip the tape. If you are using a 4 track, you can usually wind the tape backwards around the capstan pressure roller.


A point in every direction is like no point at all

I remember an interview with Jimmy Page where he flatly denies any such backmasking in Stairway to Heaven… but then I heard he was a practicing Satanist… so I’m not sure he would necessarily be truthful, in that regard…

Many natural English phoneme combinations sound like things when played backwards, especially with the wonderful pattern matching qualities of the human brain. Here’s a simple experiment that most people should be able to do with a personal computer:

Use your recording hardware/software to record the phrase “say yes”. Then use sound editing software to reverse the phrase and play it back (there are dozens of capable freeware and shareware apps). I won’t spoil the surprise just yet… A friend of mine was able to construct a similar phrase of about 10 syllables once, but I can’t (for the life of me remember what it was).


No. What you hear is (in crooner voice), “Bbboy, bbbring me a bbbelt…I’m gonna bbbeat your bbbutt!”

Anyone remember the “Nun-Bun”, the cinnamon roll that was supposed to look like Mother Theresa? I used to frequent the coffeehouse in Nashville that had it and it did look like Mother T if you were told what to look for. I think backmasking is the same thing.

…it has never been my way to bother much about things which you can’t cure.

  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court-Mark Twain

I got bad news for ya: Satanists, or at least members of Anton Lavey’s Church of Satan, don’t believe in Satan. Satan is a Christian construct, and they reject Christanity. They chose the word “Satan” beause it represents a set of ideal which are the opposite of the Christian religion. So it’s highly unlikely a Satanist would be heard praising Satan.

Yes, it’s from The Wall. The song is Empty Spaces, of all things.

The message supposedly is a reference to Syd Barett, the founder of Pink Floyd.

The differences between this and other cases of alleged ‘backmasking’ are:

  1. The message was intentionally put in and was meant to be found.
  2. The message made no sense when played forward–just a smear of sound. In the other supposed incidents, the perfectly clear forward lyrics gave a different (sometimes diametrically opposed), yet clear, message when played backward.

pldennison wrote:

First, that was a subtle attempt at irony. Perhaps too subtle. While I have heard Jimmy Page described as a satanist, I (1) don’t know that it’s true (2) don’t know the principles or variant ‘denominations’ of satanism and (3) don’t believe that anyone’s religious afilliations has any real bearing on their truthfullness. In other words, it was a joke, man…

The song “Empty Spaces” from THE WALL provides good evidence for why most other claims of backward masking are suspect: when backward masking is really there, you know it–you hear it, and you can tell its backwards dialogue, whether or not you have the means to reverse the tape and hear what it really says.

Many of the people concerned about backward masking seem to think it works like some kind of subliminal seduction, but this has never been proven. There’s no evidence that the subconcious mind understands these backwards sentences and influences concious decisions. As far as I know, “Empty Spaces” resulted in no mass mailings to “the Funny Farm, Chalfront,” which is where the “secret message” indicated that fans should send their “answer.”

I’m not sure about that the backmasking is 100% sugguestion. I rigged up a tape player to play backwards and listed to Stairway, and halfway through I thought, “Its just giberish, this is a load of crap.” Then Bam! there it was clear as a bell. Again and again. The spooky thing is I tried singing the exact same lyrics and play it backwards, but it never sounded right.

An old psych teacher of mine gave us a demonstration of “backward-masking”. He had us listen to “Another One Bites the Dust” and write down what we heard. I heard “Sina sina shanna wanna” or something like it, i.e. gibberish. Then he told us to listen for “It’s fun to smoke marijuana”, and there it was, on the second listen! With a little coaching we were able to hear “I saw a girl with a weasel in her mouth” in ‘Jabberwocky’, and “…snatched her nips” in the 23rd Psalm. I think he made his point pretty well, though he was always at war with the sociology teacher who totally believed in subliminal back-masking.

I found this at the Led Zeppelin Infrequently Murmured Trivia List on Achilles Last Stand. Here is what is believed to be the song’s backwards lyrics (i cut and paste this so it may be formatted wrong):

 Oh ask me of the wars of Beelzebub       Oh, I fear it, horrible demon
 Ah, shall I go along all right? I'll make it mine, I'll reach ya
 Oh demon, hey do ya feel me? Oh an eternity with the demon
 Ah, it's not over when you die     Ah, the Ultimate Opponent!
 Ah, this time there is no winnin'     My holy wand will fail me
 Ah, Oh, they won't get me cause I live in church now
 Hey look at that football player he attack a lady
 When I hear the serpent holler
 And as the shaky wall fall falls down ain't much to help           destroy
 Oh, don't you give me that     Oh, here's to my sweet Satan
 There was a little child who wore a great big laugh with
      glorious Satan     Did you hear me, Lord? I first give to Satan
 And, in a little school I shout, in the middle of a show,
      "First Power is Satan!" Wo wo wo
 There was cat burglar, bit off my leg     I lay in true struggle, torn up
 Another year I dont feel the same     The heater broke down in flame
 A long, long crawl lead me to a better place to rest
 Ah, I hear it too, "There is no escape, too"
 But even God fears the ultimate plan
 He hears to soon the the calling to lie down, go down to sleep
 The Cosmic TV's gone bad, I lose the Light of any time to leave
      I had       Gonna do, I'm Going to do
 Favor, Oh Power of all on top mountain hidden under a moment
 Look up at me, at me, and thee
 After my only wish replenished is all used up, I saw it           happening
 Give me an answer, all I see that we moved
 Dont thank me, Easter Woman, who although followed me
 What's that? I see you - dying
 There was an eager picnic towards another demon-loft
 Don't you hear me asking?


“Life is infinitely stranger than the mind of man can imagine.”

  • A. Conan Doyle

Uh, Dave, you should probably tell whoever has the active imagination there that the odds that a song which is completely understandable would also result in a completely understandable song in reverse are so small as to be indistinguishable from zero. Someone is pulling a prank on that list.