Twenty-five years ago today, iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury passed away in his London home at the age of 45. He died of complication from AIDS, issuing a statement about his condition just two days before. During his 21 years with the band, Queen scored major hits like “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and their first U.K. chart-topper, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but one particular song might be of interest to cannabis enthusiasts: 1980’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”
One year after the song’s release, a Christian youth pastor in Texas spoke with the Dallas Telegraph-Herald and accused Queen of using backward masking to brainwash young people. Backmasking, as it is also called, involves putting hidden messages into the music that listeners can only hear when they play it backwards. “Your conscious mind hears one thing, but your subconscious mind can pick the other up,” the youth minister said. “That’s what’s so aggravating. They’re messing with your mind and you don’t even know it. Subliminal persuasion is as close to mind control as you can get.”
So what is the mind-control message in “Another One Bites the Dust”? The youth pastor claimed, “The words of the title are repeated several times at the end. But played backwards, one hears ‘decide to smoke marijuana’ over and over.”
Of course, that’s ridiculous. The song played backwards says no such thing. Rather, the backmasked message says, “It’s fun to smoke marijuana!”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, thank you Freddie Mercury.
Collage art by Cornejo Sanchez.