Sunday, July 15, 2012

"Check out any time you like..."

The randomizer on That Infernal Device kicked up an unexpected result the other day: “Hotel California” by The Eagles. Really, Infernal Device? 30,000 songs and you still pick the most publically overplayed one of the bunch?

Not that I mind, really. The only radio I listen to is CBC, so when's the last time I've been subjected to the Hotel California? I'd say we haven't had that spirit here since 1999.

Hotel is tidily constructed, with some grimly evocative lyrics and a couple of controlled, properly-lauded guitar solos. It also brings back memories, chiefly of evangelists who, disturbed by what they heard the kids singing along to, took a good hard look at the lyrics and album art and concluded: it's about the Church of Satan, children!

Even in my pious youth that possibility never struck me as something worth worrying about. First of all, such high-falutin' subterfuge seemed unlikely. Secondly, even if it were the case, the generally despairing tone of the song was anything but an endorsement. Put the shoe on the other foot: what if the song were actually about Saddleback, or (more aptly) Westboro Baptist? What kid in his right mind would listen to those lyrics and think, “Kewl! That's a church I want to join!”?

Sigh. Misapplied intelligence: entertaining in hindsight, but grievously mischievous at the time. Here is Snopes on the matter. Better yet, here is Cracked.


Joel said...

I have very similar memories from my upbringing. Although Hotel California was not one of the songs my Christian school teachers and Sunday school teachers chose to highlight. Perhaps because I was growing up about 15 years later than you.
No, wait, that doesn't explain it. Because oddly enough even though I was in middle school in the early 90s, all their examples always came from the 1970s. Which now that I think about it is really odd, because I never knew about any of these old bands until they told me about them. And once they told me about them, I think we all started seeking out these old bands we never would have listened to anyways. Perhaps it was because all my teachers had grown up during the 70s, so this was there point of reference. Or perhaps it was (correct me if I'm wrong) because the 1970s was the high point of Churches looking to find hidden satanic messages in popular music

Led Zepplin was a big one. stairway to Heaven apparently had satanic messages played both forwards and backwards, but the whole band was supposedly Satanic. Pink Floyd was another band that was supposedly satanic. Another one bites the dust. Others....

Whisky Prajer said...

Some of these folk (or their progeny) are having the exact same field-day with Lady Gaga. Which, in a weird sort of way, warms the cockles of my heart. I guess I've just assumed this stuff is pretty much "disposable." To think it could do terrible damage to a person's soul is to once again ascribe an immeasurable value to it.