It’s been quite a while since I last posted a Playelder story, and the community has been a little slow lately, so I thought I’d continue my Playelder restoration project. (Some background on Playelder may be found here.) In tonight’s episode, Playelder relives his first encounter with…[dramatic organ chord] Satanic music!
(As before, I have cleaned up the formatting and spelling, and have added footnotes for the benefit of those blissfully ignorant of what goes on behind the Zion Curtain, but have left the essence untouched.)
Apples, Onions and Iron Maiden
Posted by Playelder on December 15, 1998 at 14:17:00
I have nothing constructive, intelligent, or well thought out to add here. Just a stupid story.
As a child it was always a source of extreme embarrassment that I was an expert on music. And not the cool kind that my ultra-chic and -hip friends listened to. No, unfortunately I was an expert on the Golden Oldies and all that Happy Days sock-hop stuff that makes your parents get that wistful look in their eyes as they long to recapture the days of their carefree youth before you ever came along, a twisted wretched result of one night at Inspiration Point in their dad’s ’57 Chevy. And he wasn’t pissed at them so much as because of what they did together, but what they did to the shocks in the Chevy as they did what they did together. Whenever they got that look, I knew that it was time to jet that joint lest I see the dancing, snuggling, necking, petting, and conception of yet another sibling.
My parents had an extremely large collection of their “real music” and I was subjected to it at such a regular basis that I might as well have been raised at Arnold’s. Except there was no cool guy like The Fonz there to teach me how to score on chicks. I knew every song from the golden age of rock and roll and who sung it. I could, and did, sing along to every one of those K-Tel and Ronco Records Presents ads. Buddy Holly, Chubby Checker, Elvis the King, and the older stuff like Patti Paige and Jerry Vail. Let’s not even get into Glenn Miller and Spike and his orchestra. I’m having wicked flashbacks that would rival those of any Vietnam vet.
But the child abuse did not stop there. I was forced to watch Lawrence Welk, Sha Na Na (Bowser was a big mouth lunk head) and Hee Haw (lots to be learned about anatomy by watching those Hee Haw Honeys!) during what was allegedly Family Hour.
This was rationalized by citing D&C 68:10, I believe it was1. Teach your children the things they are supposed to know and if they screw it up later, you won’t be held accountable on judgment day in the event they try to cite some sort of doctrinal technicality and sting you with a Celestial loophole. Nope, I was bein’ raised right, no questions about it.
As I came of age in junior high and things like girls and dances became the normal focus on social activity, I found myself being exposed to “Other “ forms of music. This did not sound like what my parents had on their records, or when they decided to catch up with the times, their 8-tracks , back in the sanctuary of our beloved home. No, I heard my classmates singing strange things about “We don’t need no edu-KY-tion” in the worst British accents ever to be subjected to human ears, Arkansas included. And there were other wayward children who were singing some thing like “bomp, bomp, bomp…another one bites the dust.” These kids were to be avoided at all costs. They were an unholy influence on the chosen few, such as myself. Their ways were evil and their parents probably had no idea that they weren’t listening to The Everly Brothers or The Lettermen. They would be severely punished when they were caught.
This was also when my sister went to BYU to find a husband. She was safe from all that in Provo, the bastion of that which is good and holy. It was almost as if she went to the Celestial Kingdom for a short while, and then she would come home for Christmas and tell us all about it. We eagerly awaited her arrival.
When she finally came home after that first semester, we had to get over the initial disappointment that she hadn’t gotten engaged yet. Dad was miffed, because that meant he had to shell out for another semester at least. And this was even after he had gotten her braces and all sorts of other enhancements in order to assure that she would not be viewed as defective merchandise.
It kind of reminded me of some of my friends who raised cattle for show. They spent all year brushing and grooming and feeding that cow the very best food to get it ready for the county fair. The cow thought all this was because it was loved and being cared for, when in reality, all the kid wants is a damn good cow it can ditch onto some buyer for the most profit. Thus was the fate of my sister. And she had no takers the first semester of the Church Fair. Oh, well, there’s still 3 1/2 semesters to go. All is not lost. Some desperate rancher is sure to at least look at her for pulling his plow.
My sister enlightened us as to the path trodden by the holy at BYU. It sounded like such a wonderful place. I was only in 7th grade, but I made a silent covenant to my maker that day that I, too, shall go there and uphold this holy tradition. After my years of grooming and brushing, of course. We were all mesmerized by my sister’s accounts of BYU, basking in her glow of special feelings, finding love for all things sacred and holy, and feeling the spirit prompt me to cry tears of joy normally reserved for fast and testimony meeting. This was truly a sacred story hour. It was a pity that it would ever have to end, but end it did. And quite harshly, too.
Not all things were sunshine, love and laughter at BYU. There were also some people there who did bad things. Sometimes they swore, sometimes they drank Coke, sometimes they didn’t go to church. “How can this travesty go on?” my soul wailed.
Words cannot expressed the grief and anguish I felt at this new knowledge. It was as if I had just walked in on Mickey Mouse boffing Minnie Mouse after I had inadvertently walked through one of those “employees only” doors at Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth™. How could I live with such despair, now knowing that Provo wasn’t actually the 2nd happiest place on earth.
My sister assured us that these bad apples were actively being sought out and expelled. Most of them were people from California, and you know how they are. My heart was filled with righteous indignation towards them.
She also told us of people who listened to bad kinds of music. Very bad music. It was called “acid rock”2 and those who played, and I use that term loosely, this kind of music had names like Van Halen and Styx. They didn’t really play their instruments, either. They merely banged them on the ground and kicked them around the stage. Theirs was not music, it was Satan’s plague unleashed upon an unwary mankind. I must be watchful, I again silently covenanted.
A year or so later, we were going on a youth temple trip. We were going to the Seattle Temple to do baptisms for the dead, after we passed our interviews, of course. I just shrugged my shoulders at the big M question.3 I had no idea what that was. It must be something people from California do while listening to acid rock. I was deemed worthy to go and get dunked like a holy donut. Again. And again. And again. And again. How much dunkin’ could a holy donut dunk if a holy donut could dunk... uhhh... sorry about that.
On our way to the temple, a kid asked if I wanted to see something.
With a look of sheer malevolence, he pulled a cassette tape from out of a bag. He handed it to me and I looked at it. I felt this slimy feeling like I had just taken a pack of cigarettes from him or did to Minnie what I saw Mickey do. This was not good. He had handed me a tape of a group called Iron Maiden. The tape was called “The Number of the Beast.”
“Where did you get this?” I asked, my heart beating faster by the second as I tossed this filth back to him.
“My brother got it at college.”
“Your bother goes to BYU, though!”
“So what, that’s were he got it. He doesn’t know I have it either.”
I could not believe what I was hearing! My sister warned me about these people, but they were all from iniquitous places like California! We couldn’t possibly have one of those people here in our ward! And yet his brother smuggled this tape on the van. AND THIS VAN IS GOING STRAIGHT TO THE TEMPLE!!!
He opened it up and put it into one of those newfangled tape players they called ghetto blasters and boom boxes. Surely this fool was not thinking of actually playing this thing! My soul was filled with terror. Heavenly Father would most definitely not allow this to take place. He would stop it, but how? Would he cause this clan van to wreck in order to keep us from defiling His holy temple? Would I be allowed into the Celestial Kingdom after I stood idly by and did nothing to stop it? My heart raced wildly with fear. I felt like the guy in the movie who is the only one who knows a bomb is about to go off and he has to find and disarm it before it kills innocent people. I was surrounded by holy children talking and laughing on their way to the temple. They were completely oblivious to the perils that awaited them. Their fate was in my hands and it was up to me to save the day. Thinking fast and trying my best to look like Harrison Ford, I turned to the kid who was going to subject us all to the wrath of Heavenly Father and play the tape. It was too late. In the time it took for me to consider the consequences of his foolhardy ways and my heroic efforts to thwart them, it allowed him ample time to put the tape in and push the play button. My plan of righteous intervention had already failed. Now there was nothing to do but await our grisly fate for indulging in this veritable orgy of acid rock.
Before I go on, I seem to remember this church musician/motivational speaker. His name was Lynn something or another, I just can’t remember what it was. For some reason the name Brinkley comes to mind. Is this the spirit prompting me with wisdom from above? He used to go about speaking and peddling his worthless wares. I best remember him from a talk I once heard about music called “Apples or Onions.” Does anyone remember this? He goes on to warn us about the perils of bad music and what becomes of those who listen to it. He relates a parable about a high-school pep rally where they have a caramel apple eating contest. The upperclassmen are given caramel apples, but the freshmen are slipped caramel onions and they were forced to eat them lest they suffer the wrath of the seniors. I saw it happen to a kid once. He was in my ward, too. It made him cry. Such is it with music. Be careful what you bite into. This Lynn fellow was also prepared to offer us an alternative to caramel onion music. He said there are 4 types of music and they are
1. Bad people making bad musicHe cited examples of each kind and I remember his example of #2. He submitted the Beatles’ rendition of “Michelle” as bad people making good music. If I remember correctly he said John Lennon hated Satan because he was jealous of his power and drew some connection between this and Lennon’s death. He vehemently stated that #4 is the ONLY kind of music we should listen to and gladly gives us an example. It was him and his music. Oh, why am I not surprised to see that, Lynn?
2. Bad people making good music
3. Good people making bad music
4. Good people making good music
“Get Lynn Brinkley’s Greatest Hits, The Best of Lynn Brinkley, and Lynn Brinkley sings the Good Music!! All for $49.95! Available immediately after the benediction! And if you’re a full tithe payer, Lynn will autograph them all himself!! Buy all 3!!! Act now and you also get “Lynn Brinkley tells you what’s wrong with everyone else’s music and why the Prophet wants you to listen to Lynn Brinkley” at no extra charge!!! BUT YOU MUST ACT NOW WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!!”
So Lynn, the prophet wants me to listen to MoTab4 and you. Hey Lynn, if you see this, I want you to know your music is REALLY lame. And then you have the gall to endorse it as church sanctioned because you’re a good person making good music. You’re damn lucky Beavis and Butthead didn’t ever hear of you or they would have nailed your good-guy-good-music thing good!! Actually, you probably could have used a little exposure as I have no problem conjuring up images of you trying to make it as the Dick Clark of stake5 dances in SLC. You’re probably a deejay and you try to slip in a few of your songs hoping someone will saunter up and ask who it is so you can say, “Why that’s ME young lady! Would you like me to autograph an album for you? I got lots of them in the back of my clan van6!”
“Uhhhhhhhh...like...no thanks, dude. I, like, just wanted to find out, like, who it was, y’know, so, like, you wouldn’t play it again, y’know?”
And this leaves you to wonder if your career could be revived if you wore baggy pants and talked like your from the tuff side of Orem, ya know what I’m sayin’? And then if you incorporated a stronger beat and emphasized the bass a little and PRESTO! Lynn Brinkley’s back with it again! And I remember your song about the two elders who saw the angel. But it was a Hell’s Angel and they were on their Harleys. Really, Lynn, couldn’t you think of anything better to rhyme with Harley that to call him “Big Starley”? gagpukevomitwretch
My career is over I’m down on my luckSee, Lynn, it’s not so hard. Just put a little attitude behind it.
My music is good but good music sucks
Sorry about that—I just wanted to leave a message in case he sees this. But then again, if he does see this, that must mean he’s questioning things. WAHOO! Welcome to the 13th Tribe, my brother!!! But your music still sucks.
So back to Harrison Ford rescuing the holy children from the satanic bomb on the temple-bound clan van. My heart was racing 1000 mph. I was genuinely scared to death at what I was about to hear. I said a silent prayer hoping it would help. I felt as helpless as someone sinking on the Titanic knowing they were about to die. As the song “The Number of the Beast” began and I heard the first kicking of the guitars I frantically rocked back and forth with my eyes squeezed shut praying, “ Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful for the blessings which thou hast given me...please forgive us of us our sins...P-P-P-P-P-P-P-PLEASE forgive us for.... Hmmmm…. Wait a second...this is acid rock?!?! This is kind of cool...and he’s only kicking this guitar around on the floor?”
I stopped my prayer in mid sentence. These sounds I was hearing had some strangely profound effect upon me. It reached into the very depths of my soul with all the force of a testimony and grabbed something in there that I had no idea even existed and would not let it go. This music spoke to me. It WAS me. The music and I became as one as I danced with the Devil, and liked it. This was truly a spiritual conversion. It was more powerful than any religious experience I had ever had. And once the song ended, I was assaulted by the hymn “Run to the Hills” I was forever hooked. Those of you who may have partaken from this chalice of Satan know the sweet power that now coursed through me. It was intoxicating. It engulfed and overwhelmed me, taking me on a journey of unprecedented pinnacles heretofore unknown by my virgin ears and soul. This van better not wreck. I’m going to get this tape at the mall as soon as we’re done with our holy dunkin’ donut routine!!!!
Many years later, still as saved as I ever was, I still sing these hymns. I am a devoted convert to the powers of Devil Music, and I openly worship on a daily basis. I have an electric guitar and renew my covenants as I feel the power rage through my soul as it is cleansed by the spirit of the B power chord. My wife and neighbors feel this power, too. I preach it unto them. I will convert them to my ways. I must thank the little boy who has now grown into the righteous and upstanding TBM who chastiseth and upbraideth me for my falling away. I must thank him for being the tool that set me free. Satan works in mysterious ways.
P.S. I noticed an interesting development as to the identity of the apple/onion guy. It way well give me a clue as to how our beloved FPR’s develop and are perpetuated. While I have never heard of Jack Christensen, the speaker I heard was indeed Lynn Bryson. I just couldn’t remember his last name and prophesied falsely when I called him Brinkley. It was an evil spirit which took possession of my body. It appears as though there was some confusion as to who did what. It seems to me, given the LDS culture, that one may be borrowing from another, or perhaps both are borrowing from an outside source altogether, and presenting this information at firesides. While I don’t question anyone’s experience listening to either one at their respective firesides, I thot it quite interesting that there were different claims as to who heard what from which source. This intrigues me. I am interested in knowing when and where either one claimed the apple/onion incident originally took place. Back in 1982, our pagan high school in Oregon had a pep rally and the apple/onion trick was pulled. In fact, ’twas a kid in my ward who got the onion and he became so frustrated in his effort to actually eat it that be broke down and cried in front of everyone. This was before I had ever heard of Lynn Bryson and his story, much less his wonderful music. Lynn, if you see this, YOU SUCK!! Outside of this, I have only heard of it referred to in my LDS dealings. I find it hard to believe that our cheerleaders picked up a copy of the October 19827 New Era and proclaimed, “I’m so totally sure! Like, let’s play this gnarly trick at our pep rally!” Perhaps the roots of this apple/onion phenomenon lie elsewhere and it served a purpose to those church speakers who pulled a Paul H. Dunn8 on unsuspecting children. If anyone has any input on this I would like to hear it. I know this is rather trivial and hardly something to concern myself with, but what can I say? I like stupid stories.
©1998 Playelder Magazine
These stories were originally posted on the Recovery From Mormonism Message Board. They are the property of Playelder and others, but may be reproduced and shared without permission.
1Not sure he’s citing the correct verse; here’s D&C 68:10, and I don’t see the connection. I do like the last verse of the section, though: “Behold, I am Alpha and Omega, and I come quickly. Amen.” Reminds me of an old Kiss tune: “I’m so fast / That’s why the ladies call me Mr. Speed.”
2Playelder seems a bit young to be calling early heavy metal “acid rock.” His stories suggest that he and I are about the same age, and we always called Iron Maiden and the like “heavy metal.” The term acid rock more accurately refers to psychedelic and some garage rock of the 60s.
3In junior high school I had heard about the humiliation inflicted upon the one boy who truthfully answered “Yes” when asked “Do you masturbate?” during his review for a temple recommend (a pass to enter a Mormon temple). He was reportedly treated like some sexual deviant, if not an actual sex offender, and was given all manner of penance and self-control exercises. It was probably an urban legend, like Bill Cosby’s tale of Crazy Mary and Spanish fly, but a believable one.
4The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, of course.
5A stake is the level of Mormon church organization above the single church, or “ward.” As a kid I was given to understand that a stake comprises about 500 families.
6A minivan (or, nowadays, a gigantic SUV) used to transport a huge Mormon family. At this time the low-income version was an ancient Buick station wagon, riding about a millimeter above the road, with a “B❤U” bumper sticker on the back. The brother called this alternative mode of transportation a “BYUick.”
7Playelder cites the wrong date here; according to the LDS Church archives, it appeared in the April 1984 New Era.
8Paul H. Dunn, a onetime member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was infamous for “embellishing” (read: lying about) his life experiences during inspirational speeches.