Listening to Reverse Lyrics

Are musicians placing hidden (often Satanic) reverse lyrics in their music? It's an old controversy, but also one that can offer an interesting psychological demonstration of the power of perceptual expectation. Which means, in plain English, that our brain makes our ears hear what it expects to hear.

Check out Jeff Milner's site devoted to backmasking. He has samples of popular songs. First play the songs forward. Then listen to them reversed. They probably sound like gibberish.

But next click the button to reveal the reverse lyrics that you're supposed to be able to hear and listen to the reversed music again. You should now be able to "hear" the reverse lyrics... because your brain is expecting to hear them. The British Psychological Society's blog writes:

Once the expectations for what to hear are in place, they can't be undone. You can't unhear the devilish lyrics once you know about them. This is a powerful demonstration of how our perceptual experiences are based not just on what is served up by our senses, but also on what our brains bring to the table.

My favorite reverse lyric was the one in Pink Floyd's Empty Spaces.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 22, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, Psychology

The Singing Nun

Step back in time now with me to that long-lost year of 1963, possibly the last moment when innocent virginal piety ruled the pop charts. I am referring of course to the Singing Nun, and her hit song "Dominique," heard below in its original form, and its groovy 1982 disco update.

I recently purchased the Sister's first album in a 3-for-a-dollar bin at my favorite used-vinyl store. Opening its gatefold, I found inside a nine-page booklet, telling the charming fable of our tuneful nun's career, illustrated with gaily wistful drawings by one F. Strobel reminiscent of the style of Ludwig Bemelmans. I've scanned the booklet and reproduce it now for your enjoyment, the first page here (each page is two files. picture and text) and the others after the jump.

I venture to say you'll find this vital, albeit seldom-perused document nowhere else on the web. Only WEIRD UNIVERSE brings you such treasures!


More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 08, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Celebrities, Fads, Music, Religion, Nuns

Lez Zepplin

Loyal and perceptive reader Rain Oubliette, commenting on the Space Age Fridge Ladies, mentions that they resemble an all-female Devo cover band, possibly named "Shevo." Well, no such weird group exists, to the best of my knowledge. But we do have the incomparable Lez Zepplin.

Watch them perform in the clip below.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 01, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Music, ShowBiz, Gender, LGBT, Women, Sex Symbols, 1960s, 1970s

The Art of Chris Mars

If you dig weird art, you could not get more satisfaction anywhere than at Chris Mars's site, where he's just added some new paintings.

While you're viewing the site, spin some discs by the Replacements. Mars was their drummer before his painting career.

My story, "Jack Neck and the Worrybird," which attempts to capture in prose the weird imagery straight from Mars's paintings, is contained in my collection Little Doors

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 01, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Literature, Fantasy, Music

Delia Derbyshire and Doctor Who

Too often throughout history men have received the credit for great achievements, even though it was a woman who did most of the creative work. The discovery of the DNA double-helix comes to mind. Another case in point: the Doctor Who theme song.

Ron Grainer is credited as the author of the song, but it turns out that it was Delia Derbyshire, a young sound engineer working in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop in 1963, who took Grainer's written score and turned it into the song people recognize today. Reportedly when Grainer first heard it, he loved it, but asked, "Did I really write this?" "Most of it," she replied.

Recently a hidden hoard of Derbyshire's recordings were uncovered. It includes a track that sounds like modern experimental dance. A woman ahead of her time!

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 24, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Music, Science Fiction, 1960s

The Song-slinging Senator

Yes, that musical genius of the legislature, Orrin Hatch, is at it again. Read about his latest musical composition in this article.

Then visit the site that holds all his marvelous music.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 20, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Celebrities, Eccentrics, Government, Officials, Music, ShowBiz

Art Garfunkel’s Library

Art Garfunkel has kept a record of every book he's read since 1968. If you want, you can download the entire list. Yes, this is THE Art Garfunkel, of Simon and Garfunkel.

The guy has read an impressive amount, but I don't find it to be a particularly interesting selection. The bulk of it is stuff you might find in a college literature course (i.e. "The Classics"). There isn't much of what gets labeled as genre literature, such as science fiction or horror. Personally, I think some of the most imaginative literature gets produced in those genres.

Garfunkel's list is also relatively light on non-fiction academic works from the sciences and social sciences. I guess the problem is there are just too many interesting books. No one has time to read them all. (via Reality Carnival)

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 13, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Literature, Books, Music

eden ahbez and Nat King Cole and “Nature Boy”

I love the singing and musicianship and general personal integrity of Nat King Cole. Hearing him immediately brings me back to my childhood in the late 1950's, the height of Cole's popularity.

Of course, like many popstars of the 1950's, Cole's star was eclipsed with the rise of rock 'n' roll, and the hippies, in the 1960's.

But curiously enough, Cole played a tiny self-defeating part in that very movement, with his song "Nature Boy."

The tale behind that song involves one of the first proto-hippies--a beatnik, I suppose--named eden ahbez.

Ahbez is one of the twentieth century's bonafide wonderful weirdos, but pretty much forgotten these days.

Why not listen to "Nature Boy" to commemorate ahbez and King?

You might even want to pick up one of ahbez's CD's!

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 12, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Decades, 1950s, 1960s, Eccentrics, History, Historical Figure, Music, Weird Names

Talkin’ ‘bout My Degeneration


"Geezers still get lucky, sez study"
"You go, granny!

"Today's 70-year-olds are having more and better sex than oldsters of the past, new research in the British Medical Journal shows. Women are especially satisfied...."

Report: Illegal drug use up for boomers
"Some moms and dads might want to take a lesson from their kids: Just say no.

"The government reported Thursday that 4.4 percent of baby boomers ages 50 to 59 indicated that they had used illicit drugs in the past month...."

Old bands never really die
"Your favorite ’90s band broke up? Fear not, they’ll be back.

"Seventies and ’80s bands, too. And if not this year, maybe next.

"This summer’s concert calendar boasts tours by reunited rockers and relics — Stone Temple Pilots (split in 2003) and New Kids on the Block (split in 1994) — and recently re-energized bands such as the B-52’s, the Black Crowes, Motley Crue and Yes. A round of reunion shows filled last summer’s slate as well, with the Police, Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Van Halen playing their time-tested hits for fans...."

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 11, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Customs, Death, Drugs, Fashion, History, Music, Sexuality

France Gall’s anti-LSD song

The French have popstars no sane American has ever heard of. One such is certainly France Gall.

Perhaps the most bizarre moment of her career was her anti-LSD anthem from 1967, "Teenie Weenie Boppie," penned by none other than
Serge Gainsbourg.

Watch it now, why not?

Curious about the lyrics? Listen to the English-language cover version by indie super group Free Kitten.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 10, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Art, Customs, Foreign Customs, Drugs, Eccentrics, Music

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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