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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Watch: Dutch Artist Sings "Stairway to Heaven" Backward, We Can't Look Away

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Jeroen Offerman, feelin' a backward guitar solo.
  • Jeroen Offerman, feelin' a backward guitar solo.

If you ever need proof that the Internet can be educational, expand our horizons, and make us more culturally aware global citizens, this video from Dutch artist Jeroen Offerman should do the trick.

Offerman, a visual artist living in a town called Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, learned to sing "Stairway to Heaven" backward. Then he performed it that way on some church steps, recorded it, and reversed the tape; the clip first appeared in an issue of Wholphin, a McSweeneys-produced DVD. This fan saw it, and passed it along to WMFU, an independent radio station out of Jersey City, which apparently curates a long-standing collection of different "Stairway"s, because, well, why do you need a reason to do that? This is America.

In any event, here we are. It really gets going around the six-minute mark.

And here you have Offerman's description of his inspiration, as posted on that there blog above:

My parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and so I had a very strict Christian upbringing. There was a suspicion of rock and pop music, and some music, Led Zeppelin in particular, was branded downright evil. The rumor was that if you played "Stairway to Heaven" in reverse you could hear messages that would urge you to follow the devil's path. Supposedly even if you listened to the music in a normal manner you would subconsciously pick up these messages and act accordingly. In my early teens, I destroyed some music that I thought I shouldn't listen to or have at home.

"Stairway to Heaven" was a difficult one for my friends and me. We thought the song and the lyrics were so utterly beautiful and yet we couldn't listen to it out of fear of what could happen to us if we did. That's the tension I felt by listening to this record: a teenage attraction to something dangerously beautiful. I am still intrigued how these myths are created and the effect they can have. So I started to learn to sing the song and its lyrics in reverse. After three months the job was done. I went up to the steps outside Saint Paul's Cathedral in London and performed it for an audience of confused passers-by, pigeons, and a video camera. Back home I reversed the tape and put a karaoke track underneath.

Basically, religion + rock 'n' roll + a government that supports artists financially + lax policies on recreational drug use = thank you, Netherlands. We salute you today.

-- @emmaruthless

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Emma Silvers


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