The most humorous thing in the Wall Street Journal‘s column 4 evergreen today, “Behind the Music: Sleuths Seek Messages In Lyrical Backspin,” is not that some computer geek managed to convince them to trot out a story about this old, tired 1960s gimmick in a new, digital way on the front page of the largest circulation paper in the US.
What’s really funny is the generation gap that seems to have developed between multibillionaire Paul McCartney and his publicist.
Some of you old enough (and sober enough) to remember the 1960s will recall the “Paul is dead” rumor that swept through Beatle fandom (as much as it was possible for rumors to sweep through something in that pre-Internet era). Also see Paul Is Dead, Is Paul McCartney Dead?, and countless other conspiracy-busting websites you can find by doing a Google search on the terms “paul mccartney dead.”
Everyone was playing Beatle records backwards. Shure Electronics certainly saw a spike in sales of stereo turntable styli (ask your parents about diamond needles against vinyl) that were damaged from twisting the records backwards.
In today’s article, reporter Dionne Searcey notes that
The search for hidden messages in music first gained popularity decades ago after Michigan disc jockey Russ Gibb, prompted by a caller, put a Beatles song, “Revolution 9,” on his turntable and spun it backward. He said he thought he heard: “Turn me on, dead man.” His observation fed rumors that Paul McCartney was dead. Mr. McCartney eventually turned up very much alive, but that didn’t stop music fans from finding all sorts of alleged backward messages when they spun their other records in reverse.
Then, the account goes on to report that
Mr. McCartney’s spokesman said the ex-Beatle was unavailable for comment, but he noted he had never heard the subject of secret messages come up with Mr. McCartney. “There’s a lot of Beatle folklore out there,” he added.
Paul’s PR guy never heard of the secret messages? How old is this guy, and why is Paul paying a publicist who doesn’t know about this particular piece of “Beatles folklore”?