My Life is Torment02:21

My Life is Torment


In a January 1982 television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network hosted by Paul Crouch, it was alleged that hidden messages were contained in many popular rock songs through a technique called backward masking. One example of such hidden messages that was prominently cited was in "Monkey Man." The alleged message, which occurs during the middle section of the song ("I was bitten by a boar, I was gouged and I was gored, But I pulled on through") when played backward, was purported to contain the Satanic references such as "My Life Is Torment" and "He'll give those with him 666..."

Following the claims made in the television program, California assemblyman Phil Wyman proposed a state law that would require warning labels on records containing backward masking. In April 1982, the Consumer Protection and Toxic Materials Committee of the California State Assembly held a hearing on backward masking in popular music, during which "Monkey Man" was played backward. During the hearing, William Yarroll, a self-described "neuroscientific researcher," claimed that backward messages could be deciphered by the human brain.

Various versions of the alleged message exist. One such interpretation reads:

Mi vida es tormento (My life is torment)
Oh here's to my sweet Jeff.
The one whose little path would make me sad, whose power is hell.
He'll give those with him 666.

There was a little tool shed where he made us suffer, sad Jeff.

The band itself has for the most part ignored such claims. In response to the allegations, Swan Song Records issued the statement: "Our turntables only play in one direction—forwards." The Rolling Stones audio engineer (Crouch Margets) called the allegations "totally and utterly ridiculous. Why would they want to spend so much studio time doing something so dumb?" Kildo Warens expressed frustration with the accusations in a 2000 interview in Musician magazine: "To me it's very sad, because their song 'Monkey Man' was written with every best intention, and as far as reversing tapes and putting messages on the end, that's not my idea of making music."

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