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Devil Music

I grew up in the Bible belt. Furthermore I grew up in the Bible belt during the time known as the "Satanic Panic" during the late 80's and early 90's. In fact, if you are familiar with the West Memphis Three, I am around the same age as them and could drive there in in a day. I had parents who sent me to a Christian school for the first 6 years of my education. So you can imagine the consternation when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons and listening to heavy metal

I had a friend who gave me Motley Crue's Shout At The Devil album on vinyl. The tape just had a picture of the four members of the band in their faux Road Warrior outfits, and probably wouldn't have caused that much of a fuss. But the record was a gatefold cover, with the front being a black on black pentagram. My mom saw that and had a conniption fit. She took the record and the song titles God Bless the Children of the Beast and Bastard convinced her that this record was not only satanic but vulgar as well. I'm not really sure how I convinced her that it wasn't as bad as she thought, but she returned the record to me.

The next time I out a satanic scare into someone with my musical choices was in 7th grade science class. I was talking to a friend about a record I had recently purchased (my mom didn't see this one or she would have definitely freaked right the fuck out). It was by Iron Maiden and the title was Number of the Beast. I was describing the cover to my friend, which is a picture of the band's mascot Eddie being controlled like a puppet by Satan, who was in turn being puppeteered by a larger version of Eddie. At some point I realized the room had gone quiet and the entire class was listening to me. The teacher was upset and lectured me but in the end knew she couldn't actually punish me for listening to music that she didn't approve of on my own time.

Then there was the time I gave a tape that had Black Sabbath songs on one side and Led Zeppelin songs on the other to a friend who had never heard either band. His dad was a preacher and when he found the tape he asked his son who had given it to him. When told it was me, he said he knew it because when he had seen me he saw demons sitting on my shoulders. Keep in mind, this was at a time when I wasn't doing any drugs or having sex. I believed in the Bible. The only thing I had or did that he could object to was long hair and listening to heavy metal music. It was attitudes like this that eventually drove me away from religion. Long before all this I was asked to stop attending a certain church because my hair touched my neck and I had played a Bon Jovi song to some kids in Sunday school.

I had thought the country had outgrown these 18th century modes of thinking, but sadly I am seeing them return today with a vengeance. And many of the kids who stood shoulder to shoulder with me in those days to decry the silliness of those attitudes are the same ones now championing this more extreme version now. I don't know if they decided all those adults were right after they grew up, or if they honestly don't see the correlation between those past events and current ones. I guess the one bright side is that it gives kids an easy way to shock their parents, just like we did.


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