Despite the title, Jacob Aranza’s inane 1983 “exposé” of Satanic messages in rock and roll doesn’t spend much time on the backward messages supposedly hidden in all the popular albums of the time. Instead, Aranza chooses to spend the majority of his word count detailing salacious, absurd, and wildly inaccurate rumors about the songs and bands themselves. “There’s a revival going on in Satan’s kingdom,” Aranza writes breathlessly, “and music is his tool.” He goes on to warn the reader, “Young man, that rock music is from the devil! Those loud guitars and that jungle beat are from the pit of hell! You stay away from that stuff!” Rock and roll may be the music of rebellion, but “CAUTION: The end of rebellion is always death.” (Interestingly, since we are all mortal, the end of obedience is always death, too.) Here are some of my other favorite excerpts:
“The [sic] Queen’s top song ‘We Are the Champions’ is the unofficial national anthem for gays (homosexuals) in America.”
“[The Rolling Stones’] song ‘Satanic Majesty’s Request’ [is] the unofficial anthem for all satanic churches.” Later, he makes the exact same claim about their song “Sympathy for the Devil.” There sure are a lot of unofficial anthems for gays and Satanists! Also, “The Stones’ album title Get Yer Ya-Yas Out is based on a phrase which recurs frequently in African voodoo.” And here you thought it was just about boobs!
“One thing is sure, ‘Hotel California’ is not a place where you or I should spend any day or night! This Southern California group’s country-rock blend may at first sound harmless. But continued listening could become harmful. Don’t forget, BIRDS OF A FEATHER FLOCK TOGETHER!”
“[Alice Cooper’s] hits include. . .‘Working Up a Sweat’ which is a song about working up a sweat during the act of sex.”
“Led Zeppelin is no stairway to heaven but rather, if you pardon the expression, on the HIGHWAY TO HELL!. . .[But] there is a real stairway to heaven — through the cross of Jesus Christ.”
“AC/DC means bisexual.”
“The symbol that [Blue Oyster Cult] use as their trademark, which is a cross with a question mark, can only be an anti-Christ symbol questioning what happened at the cross.”
“Ritchie Blackmore’s music and message are certainly not that of a rainbow but rather a ‘Lake of Fire.’”
“Rumours may be the hit album for Fleetwood Mac, but it is no rumor that this group is indulging in the occult; it is the bare facts.”
“Mind control [in Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2’]? They have it over the minds of millions of young people as they encourage rebellion against authority in the school classrooms.”
“A better name couldn’t have been given to [the Grateful Dead] to describe their music. I’m sure many will be grateful when their music is dead.”
“Hall ’N Oates [sic] often impersonate women and attempt to come across to their audiences as women.” Also, “Daryl Hall is a follower of Aleister Crowley.”
“A warning about those interested in flying with Jefferson Starship: their flight pattern ends in death.”
“Unnatural sex is the theme of REO Speedwagon’s album Hi Infidelity.”
“[Elton John’s] song ‘Bitch is Back’ is about sniffing glue.”
But don’t worry, Aranza tells us, if you love good music there are now many excellent Christian acts that can take the place of these deplorable rock and roll bands. “There are no more good excuses why Christian young people cannot hear good quality music about the ‘Rock that never rolls’. . .Jesus Christ.” Never one to let a bad pun die, Aranza writes of these Christian bands, “Christ has put their feet on the Rock and their names on the roll!”
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of incidents in the book that further display a lack of fact-checking: “Jim Steinman, or as he is commonly called, ‘Meat Loaf.’” Jim Steinman is not Meat Loaf. “KISS (Kid’s In Satan’s Service).” Nope. And who can forget that famous lead singer of the Eagles “Ron Henley”? Or Kenneth Anger’s film “Lucifer’s Rising”?
In case you were wondering if Aranza’s conservative evangelicalism would take a predictable turn into racism — fear not, it does! In a chapter discussing his own life, including a childhood filled with the horrors of rock music, drugs, and divorced parents, he writes, “As if all this wasn’t bad enough, they had just started integration in schools.” Aranza attended a school where white children were in the minority, which he describes as a twisted, violent hellscape. “We began to have race riots. All the blacks were running around saying, ‘We’s [sic] want black power.’ The Mexicans were running around saying, ‘Hey dude, we want Chicano power.’ The whites were just running around saying, ‘We want OUT!’” I suppose growing up with all those political protests — sorry, I mean “race riots” — it was hard not to see Satan everywhere.
This slim volume is a quick read and good for a laugh, if nothing else. However, when I was finished I also read it backward. Imagine my shock when I discovered that when read backward the book clearly states, “Jacob Aranza is a self-righteous and easily misguided imbecile who wants to use religion to control people’s lives so he can feel powerful and important.” CAUTION: Jacob Aranza is the real Bitch who’s Back because he is clearly sniffing glue!