Dutchman Masters the Art of Singing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” Backwards

This has “viral video” writ­ten all over it. The only prob­lem is that it was filmed and released back in 2003, just two years before YouTube changed our world. But who knows, maybe with your help, the video could enjoy some posthu­mous viral­ness. Or is it viral­i­ty or viralos­i­ty?

The clip above fea­tures Jeroen Offer­man, a Dutch visu­al artist who, a decade ago, spent three months learn­ing to sing Led Zep­pelin’s “Stair­way to Heav­en” entire­ly back­wards. He filmed him­self singing the song in reverse, while stand­ing in front of Saint Paul’s Cathe­dral in Lon­don, then flipped the direc­tion of the video (hence the pedes­tri­ans walk back­wards), all in order to show how well he mas­tered the art of singing Zep­pelin in reverse.

On his web­site he explains the project in greater detail, writ­ing:

“The Stair­way at St.Paul’s” is based on the hys­te­ria that sur­round­ed cer­tain music-record­ings of the 60’s and the 70’s. Some rock bands, like the Bea­t­les, Judas Priest and Led Zep­pelin were sup­posed to have put hid­den mes­sages in their records that could only be heard when played back­wards. These mes­sages though, would sub­con­scious­ly be picked up by the lis­ten­er who would then react in response to them.

In this way the band Judas Priest end­ed up in a court case because their records had ‘induced’ chil­dren to com­mit sui­cide. Also, the Bea­t­les were sup­posed to sug­gest through their records that Paul McCart­ney, one of their main band mem­bers, had died in a car crash and was replaced by a look-a-like.

The most famous exam­ple though, is Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stair­way to Heav­en’, a song about a woman buy­ing her­self a way in to heav­en. The mys­tic lyrics seem to urge us to fol­low the right path in life. But, as one line in the song already says, “some­times words have two mean­ings”, and so, when played back­wards, this song is sup­posed to urge us to wor­ship evil.

It’s time to dive in to your record-col­lec­tion and find out if it was all true. But first let us watch this video. So turn up the vol­ume and remem­ber the first time you smoked a cig­a­rette…

Things get pret­ty great around the 6:07 mark.

I’m pray­ing that this isn’t all a goof.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pak­istani Immi­grant Goes to a Led Zep­pelin Con­cert, Gets Inspired to Become a Musi­cian & Then Sells 30 Mil­lion Albums

Hear Led Zeppelin’s First Record­ed Con­cert Ever (1968)

Led Zep­pelin Plays One of Its Ear­li­est Con­certs (Dan­ish TV, 1969)


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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.