Music From Sixties Had Direct Links With Elements That Were Often Dark, Devilish
By Michael H. Brown
They say that Satan was once the angel in charge of music, and I don't know if that's true, but if it is, it goes a ways in explaining the allure of modern music, much of which -- too much of which -- seems to have a dark anointing.
I remember a priest telling me about a missionary who went into the bush country of Africa with his family and upset the natives when a daughter began to play rock songs on a cassette player. The natives raced over saying that the beat was meant to conjure spirits.
I can't vouch for such things, but there certainly is a throb to music that sends questionable pulses. So heavy is the bass these days that it comes through closed windows. Moreover, if "by their fruits you will know them" is a guide, we can look at the fruit and know that music animated an entire decade -- the Sixties -- that spawned the sexual revolution, which spawned abortion and a time of great rebellion.
One has to be careful not to go too far with such things. It's easy to paint matters as black or white. Like anything else, there are gray areas. No question: some of it was nice music, beautiful even, far better than what we see produced today. While the Beatles may have written Helter Skelter (which helped inspire Charles Manson), and promoted the use of drugs (try Happiness Is a Warm Gun), they also wrote classic hits such as Hey Jude, Yesterday, and Let It Be ("when I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me," even if the actual allusion was to Paul McCartney's deceased mother). Especially in the early days, the innocence (I Want to Hold Your Hand) was endearing.
But the devil is clever and when we look back too many "innocent" songs were songs of connotation.
Such music was behind at least some of the historic waywardness that was enkindled back and it is chilling to note, as a set of Christian videos notes, that a good deal of rock-and-roll seemed to descend from a poor bluesmen named Robert Johnson -- who it is said was an average guitar player back in the 1940s until he walked to the intersection of routes 49 and 61 in Clarksville, Mississippi (crossroads are important in the voodoo culture) and made a pact with the devil.
According to the video, from that day forward Johnson played like an inspired man, going from the worst guitarist -- from "noising" folks, as one friend recounted -- to the best in those parts, and forming the bedrock on which modern rock and roll was built, by some reckonings.
Johnson was the king of delta blues and he affected Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Credence Clearwater Revival, the Beatles, Cream, Fleetwood Mack, the Yardbirds, and Led Zeppelin -- who sang of Highway 49 and are said (by the producers of the videos), to have brought dirt back from it. Later, many famous rockers would visit his grave or make a pilgrimage that same intersection.
Me and the Devil Blues, was one of Johnson's songs, Me and the Devil Walking Side by Side was another, and then there was Hell Hound On My Trail.
Johnson at died at 27 in the 1940s and they say that just before he succumbed he was "barking and howling like a dog."
This is not to denounce or besmirch musicians who developed the bluesy style but to say that many are a mixed bag (aren't we all) and that music has been a major vehicle of deception.
In an era that has seen more evil than any other -- or at least in more forms -- it is time to look at the root of modern music, which so powers our culture.
As one who was a big Beatles fan (I also liked the Stones, Credence, Jethro Tull, and a host of others), it gives me pause to throw it all in one big bag but one wonders why there was that remarkable upwelling during such a pivotal decade (including countless "one-hit" wonders who tapped into it). A spirit of music was moving, for sure. How much was darkly anointed?
Some is easy to discern. There was a Jim Morrison, who married a witch, danced with her as they drenched each other in blood, and said he was possessed by the spirit of an Indian. There was the suicide of Kurt Kobain, who once appeared in a video with plastic fetuses hanging from a tree. There were the Rolling Stones singing Sympathy for the Devil and sparking the riot at Altamonte (of Hell's Angels). There was a famous guitarist's girlfriend who had pieces of human bones in a witchcraft kit and spent time with him in a notorious cottage at Loch Ness. One song connected with this musician was Stairway to Heaven.
That cottage once had been inhabited by a man, Aleister Crowley, whose own mother called him "the Beast" and who was accused of drug use, murder, and founding the modern Church of Satan.
The connections between rock and the dark side -- and later offshoot music -- are legion. No doubt, musicians fall into traps as we all fall into traps, thinking the dark side to be "cool" and even dabbling with the occult along with drugs, which allow demonic infiltration.
The demonism has progressed to the point where it is no longer hidden. Goth and other modern bands openly display satanic symbols, including the pentagram, and mention Satan by name, endearingly. Singer Ozzy Osborne, who founded Black Sabbath, even wrote a song called "Mr. Crowley," and Crowley's face is among those on Sergeant Pepper. That album came out in 1967 ("it was twenty years ago today," started one famous song on the album, and in fact Crowley died, coincidentally or not, in 1947, the video points out).
At any rate, heavy metal has taken us to new "highs" that have led to cliffs. The fruit: Anyone remember Columbine?
No one could summarize it adequately. "I wish to sell my soul for earthly riches, don't want no crown of thorns," crooned the heavy-metal group Metallica, according to the video, They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll. "We will get stoned and worship Satan," sang Kobain.
But for the most part it was more subtle. It was in "innocent" tunes. It came through musicians who on the one hand may sing of "Mother Mary" and on the other "Helter Skelter" -- which helped spark the Sharon Tate carnage. We all got swept up into it.
If not all evil, there was certainly a supernatural component. Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon indicated that at times they felt like they were in communication with spirits (Lennon said he was more of a channeler than a musician, and his wife, Yoko Ono, described the Beatles as "like mediums at a seance"). Lennon recalled that he was given the name "Beatles" by a man who appeared to him in a vision surrounded by flames.
Meanwhile, when speaking Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant recalled. "I was just sitting there with [guitarist Jimmy Paige] in front of a fire at Headley Grange. Pagey had written these chords and he played them for me. I was holding a pencil and paper and for some reason, I was in a very bad mood. Then all of a sudden my hand was writing out the words: 'There?s a lady who?s sure, all that glitters is gold, and she?s buying a Stairway to Heaven.' I just sat there and I looked at the words and I almost leapt out of my seat.??
Carlos Santana, a Mexican-born guitarist best known for top-ten hits including Black Magic Woman, has claimed that an angel named Metatron was responsible for his comeback, which earned him eight Grammys in 2000.
Punk rock, industrial? One group, Red Hot Chili Peppers, even thanked Satan at the MTV awards.
The goal: when it came to Crowley, it was to end the "age of Pisces" during which Christ was born and during which the devil would usher in the age of Horus (or Aquarius). Meanwhile, as if to underscore such, Mick Jagger was linked with a fellow who did a movie called Lucifer Rising, according the video, which is very powerful.
We are making it available even if, at times, it seems overzealous. It is not a video for the faint of heart.
The facts it presents are fascinating -- as is other literature on the subject. Claims one researcher, records "consecrated" to the devil are based on several principles. "The first important item is rhythm, called beat, which mimics the sexual act," he says. Then: "Volume intensity. The volume is deliberately set to at least seven decibels above the tolerance level of our nervous system. Prolonged exposure to such a noise level induces a type of depression, rebelliousness, and aggression." And also: "Subliminal signals. These are transmitted at such a high pitch that were are unable to hear them."
Whether or not all that is precisely true, strange it is how words that seem to come from darkness -- glorifying the devil -- are sometimes heard when songs are played backwards (the process known as "back-masking," as if a force was toying with us as well as the musicians).
"Rock has always been the devil's music," singer David Bowie once remarked, according to the video, which further informs us that Black Sabbath was launched in the U.S. with a party that included the head of that "church" of Satan presiding over the proceedings.
"Look into my eyes, you'll see who I am," sang Ozzie Osborne. "My name is Lucifer, please take my hand."
"Little Richard" had similar experiences and identified Satan as the source of his inspiration. Jim Morrison called the spirits that at times possessed him "the Lords," and wrote a book of poetry about them. One major folk rock artist's creativity came from her spirit guide. So dependent was she upon this "guide" that nothing could detain her when he "called."
This can go on. For many, it meant early death. When we look at the average lifespan of rock, punk, and heavy-metal stars, we note that they are average 37, according to one researcher, where the average American now lives to 78.
John Lennon was killed by a man who heard "voices" urging his shooting (and the last person David Chapman, the assassin, saw before he shot Lennon was Mia Farrow walking her dog near the Dakota; she had starred in Rosemary's Baby!).
His death was a tragedy, of course, as was the early death of Elvis Presley, who once was a fantastic Gospel singer. One wonders if that's what he and some of the others had been meant to do -- before the devil twisted it.
So many songs would have been just as splendid with holy lyrics. Coincidence? Elvis was born the day Johnson died.
Pray about this. Pray and think back. Think of the greatest hits of all time and in your minds, in your own muse, change the words to Godly ones -- as in at least some cases may have been originally intended.
When It Comes To Rock And Other Modern Music, Best That Can Said Is That It's A Mix
From the mail:
By Michael H. Brown
An article several weeks ago about rock music elicited a wide response -- as well as questions. It was an article that frankly explored whether modern music has roots in the dark side.
I started where many do: with a blues guitarist named Robert Johnson, who died in 1938 but not before leaving a profound mark on the world of music.
Is it true that this man who was a "founding father" of rock-and-roll "sold his soul" to the devil? And have others done the same, often unknowingly (although sometimes with full knowledge)?
In the case of Johnson, it's a question that no one can seem to prove or disprove. It is certainly a deeply-rooted "myth," prevalent among those in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where, it was said, Johnson -- often a down-and-outer, hitching rides on rail cars -- made a pact with the prince of darkness at the intersection of Highways 49 and 61 and thereafter exhibited what some say was musical genius.
The legend was told mainly by another bluesman named Son House, but finds no definitive corroboration in any of Johnson's work, despite titles from his songs such as "Me and the Devil Blues" and "Hellhound on My Trail."
But an expert named Julio Finn wrote in a book, The Bluesman: The Musical Heritage of Black Men and Women in the Americas, that voodoo indeed had been in the Johnson equation. He was said to have practiced songs in a graveyard and to have died "howling." It is a strange tale that if nothing else stands as a metaphor for what occurred after.
For whatever Johnson did or did not do (we should pray for his soul), he is cited as having influenced a range of musicians -- including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, U2, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Eric Clapton (who called Johnson "the most important blues musician who ever lived").
That was one issue. Johnson. What about others at the root of modern culture -- such as Elvis and The Beatles?
Elvis had terrific attributes and had been a tremendous gospel singer but like so many went the root of drugs and was fascinated by the occult (with an extensive library about parapsychology, which did him no good, as it does none of us any good). In our own time, we see many singers -- like "Madonna" (who made a video on a church set with black candles, and whose name rankles) involved in such things as kabbalah.
The occult, sex, and drugs have been the constant musical undercurrent.
As for the Beatles, I certainly have nothing against them. I was a fan enough to have attended the funeral of John Lennon in Central Park, when I lived in Manhattan, and I remember the touching last note of the last song in the tribute and how at that exact moment the first snowflakes of the season fell. It was like God had allowed him a sign.
There is no question that these four young men from Liverpool wrote and played some beautiful and haunting music -- songs that in instances like "Yesterday" may survive the centuries. One can't blithely label all of their music as good or evil. I think here not only of tremendous songs like "Hey Jude," "Something," and "Lady Madonna," but lesser known but equally brilliant ones such as "Eleanor Rigby."
There was genius in those lyrics! Let it be...
But was it of God?
Like everything in life, there was a mix in rock music (I don't know what to call the modern, buzzing, throbbing stuff), but the pertinent issue -- away from all the trivia -- is the fruit:
Overall, the fount that erupted with what became known as "rock" in the 1960s and then the early Seventies coincided with and often suspiciously preceded highly negative societal trends, often in the name of love.
It is very hard to get away from that fact. The lyrics even to innocent-sounding songs were often suggestive sexually or tied to the use of drugs. Do you remember a nice little song, from another group, called "Afternoon Delight"? Or the song "Celebration"? Meditate on the lyrics to those and others.
In the case of the Beatles, they themselves described what they had done as like channeling and the question of course is what they were channeling.
Whether or not John Lennon really had a vision of a man in a "pie" of flames who supposedly told him to call his group the Beatles is not as relevant as what came in the wake of the musical tsunami.
Who was it who wrote "Black Magic Woman," and can we really feel good after listening to "Dark Side of the Moon" or "House of the Rising Sun"?
As for more recent stuff, let us jump to Kurt Cobain (yes, it is spelled with a C):
One e-mailer argued that his songs, so seemingly dark, or at least one video I saw (which showed fetuses hung from trees), had been done "tongue-in-cheek."
Tongue in cheek? Cobain ended up committing suicide.
Too many musicians have gone the same route.
I took much of the information for the article from a video (now in DVD) called They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll, and while I can't vouch for every fact -- it is a long documentary -- and while it is at times overwrought, it brings up certain incontrovertible facts, such as the fascination of many famous musicians with an English occultist named Aleister Crowley. It is indisputable -- and hard to reconcile with Christianity.
It was the spirit of rebellion which Scripture says is like the spirit of witchcraft.
A Beatles fan myself, I was certainly taken aback in reflecting upon certain remarks made by John Lennon (who with his colleagues placed Crowley on the cover of "Sergeant Pepper"):
"While in Hamburg, John, each Sunday would stand on the balcony, taunting the churchgoers as they walked to St. Joseph's," writes Philip Norman in a major Beatles biography called Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation. "He attached a water-filled contraceptive to an effigy of Jesus and hung it out for the churchgoers to see. Once he urinated on the heads of three nuns" (page 152).
We also recall Lennon's famous quote that the Beatles were more popular than Christ -- something of course that was not true and especially is not true today and may have been taken out of context, but for his previous inclinations.
Once more, like all of us, especially in our youths, Lennon deserves our prayers for that good he did do. Later he would write beautiful songs about love -- and how it is all we need (although we would add Jesus).
In fact, some of those who seemed the loudest and raunchiest and most anti-christian -- such as the Rolling Stones -- had their moments of tenderness.
The Stones wrote touching songs like "Wild Horses" and "Angie," and most recently, guitarist Keith Richards made the news for participating on an album of spiritual songs.
"Richards plays on a half- dozen tracks, including "I Want Jesus to Walk With Me" and "Rock in Jerusalem," noted a newspaper.
No one is claiming that he wrote the stuff nor that he has a religious affiliation, but at least he likes the sound.
"Christian critics have accused Richards and the rest of the Stones of selling out to the dark side," notes the news account. "But the guitarist is a 'fantastic person,' [his sister-in-law, a vocalist on the album] said. 'He's the most wonderful, genuine, honorable man that I can think of.'"
Yet the fact remains that Richards and many of us growing up in the Sixties went astray. To know this we need only listen to Stones' songs like "Honky Tonk Woman." And while folks can argue that recordings such as "Sympathy for the Devil" were exposing evil (not reveling in it), the demonic patina of Stones albums makes them difficult to defend (as do titles like "Goat's Head Soup").
Likewise is it hard to justify the lyrics in Stones songs such as "Dancing with Mr. D."
("Down in the graveyard where we have our tryst, the air smells sweet, the air smells sick. He never smiles, his mouth merely twists the breath in my lungs feels clinging and thick. But I know his name, he's called Mister D. and one of these days he's gonna set you free. Human skulls is hangin' right 'round his neck, the palms of my hands is clammy and wet").
I don't think I was too hard on the Stones, and most of you didn't either.
The end result, especially in the current time, has been anything but great, as music has turned far less talented and at the same time darker -- much darker than anything in the days of the Beatles. Many are those who give the devil's finger sign at concerts or who openly display the pentagram. Do you feel the buzz when a boom box rattles your windows?
There are repercussions with things like that, whether or not they are immediately apparent.
"I met the Spirit of Music," Jim Morrison of The Doors once wrote. "An appearance of the devil in a Venice canal. Running, I saw a Satan or Satyr, moving beside me, a fleshly shadow of my secret mind, . . ." (The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison). Let us note that we bring it all up because there can be dangers: many are the musicians who die young, including those who have re-recorded Johnson's song abut the "crossroads."
Whether or not that's a "curse," there was certainly the curse of drug and alcohol abuse, which claimed the early lives even of "soft" rockers like John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.
As I write this is news about the death of another musician named Syd Barrett, "who died several days ago (no one is sure exactly when) at age 60, and was, to say the least, a mess," reports Slate Magazine. "The wire services are remembering the co-founder and first lead singer of Pink Floyd as a 'troubled genius' ... and indeed his life was a lurid tragedy that seemed scripted for a VH-1 Behind the Music special: Gifted psychedelic-rock pioneer streaks like a comet across the Swinging London music scene, sears his mind on drugs, descends into madness, and disappears. He became something more horrifying than a rock martyr like Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix."
Again, let us pray!
We all can be deceived. We all are a mix.
But let us also note evil where evil is or was.
"Thank you for your editorial on rock music and satanic influence," wrote Ted Quigley of South Burlington, Vermont. " Even when I was drifting away from the church in the 1970s, my guardian angel communicated to me to stop listening to rock music.
"For most of my young life, I had listened to classical music. I was aware of the music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Doors, and so forth but did not have any albums nor did I constantly have the radio on.
"In 1973 at age twenty I started to listen to rock music, buy albums, and have the radio always on. I listened to what was considered the 'heavy metal' of the time in addition to the standard top 40 and tunes of the '60s which I enjoyed very much like everyone else.
"However, something was moving my conscience to try to get me to stop listening. I stopped around 1978 when I found it was becoming difficult to get the tunes and lyrics to leave my head. In the early 1980s, a friend of mine got me to buy a punk rock album which began to give me headaches even though the volume was turned down and I enjoyed some of the music. I thought the reaction was quite odd and every time I listened to it, the headaches became more intense. I threw away the tape and no music ever caused headaches before or since and now I basically do not listen to rock music at all."
Some quoted a well-known evangelistic priest as claiming he was in the studio when major musicians dedicated an album to Satan. He asserts that there was even a blood ritual.
I can't vouch for that. For the most part, it is my belief that, as can happen to the rest of us, they were victims of deception.
"Excellent article about the music from the sixties," wrote David Morley, New York City. "Pretty scary stuff especially how it seduced an entire generation, and still does. We are both about the same age, and I still listen to those great songs from the sixties, but you are right, they do have a certain unexplainable power."
"I was wondering if it wouldn't be interesting to do an article on some of the musicians who have converted -- maybe not to Catholicism, but at least to the Lord," wrote Tom Valois. "I can think of three off the top of my head, all of whom have websites and are still practicing Christians: Rick Wakeman (Yes), Dan Peek (America) and Kerry Livgren (Kansas: wrote "Carry On My Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind" -- he was lead guitarist and keyboardist). I've also read that Van Morrison is a convert, but I am not certain."
There is also Bono and his reported spirituality. The list goes on, but it is not an overly lengthy one.
Let us appreciate those who are seeking God. It is a struggle in this place of exile for all of us!
But let us not excuse evil -- our own or that in society, where it has blossomed unchecked and now surrounds us as a consequence of indifference. Remember that charisma can have a dark root, and often does.
Oh, there is the music of Heaven to look forward to!
Those who have had mystical experiences claim the music there is unlike any on earth, and revel in the memory of how it nurtures and is all oriented at praise.
It is hard to imagine many of the rock songs in eternity. For if nothing else they say there is no "beat" there because there is no time.
originally published as rockfolo
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