The Beatles are the greatest rock band of all time. Some people say it's the Rolling Stones, but those people just think it sounds cool to be wrong. Being an act that was a legitimate worldwide phenomenon, it's not at all uncommon to find bizarre places that they have inspired homage.
Granted, sometimes it's at the hands of a madman who thinks a band's lyrics are a prophecy instructing him to start a race war that will ultimate end with him being crowned king of the Earth. By the way, hi Charlie if you're reading. Other times it's just indie bands trying to recreate the album cover of Abbey Road. Even video games get in on the act, sometimes in a bizarre way.
Back in the '90s, a console called the Sega CD was an early attempt at the kind of thing that modern PS3s are capable of now. I owned one, as well as a Virtual Boy, because for some reason watching my parents throw money away on gimmicky technology that failed just made me as happy as could possibly be.
Packaged with the system was a rail-shooter called Sewer Shark, and in its own way it was highly inventive. Mixing gameplay with live-action footage, you navigated through a series of tunnels shooting enemies and trying to escape. The footage was a whole specially-shot movie, a hallmark of the game's designer Digital Pictures.
Much like Dragon's Lair, it was more interactive movie than video game, but the ability to alter a live-action film was an incredible feature found only on the poor, evolutionary dead-ends that followed the 16-bit era until the N64 and Playstation came along.
The game came with quite a pedigree, too. The movie portions were directed by John Dykstra, the Academy Award-winning visual effects supervisor who helped bring Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind to life.
Still, the game was a flop, as were all the systems it appeared on, and eventually Digital Pictures itself folded. I bring it up because of one odd piece of trivia that took me years to unravel.
Sega CD games could be placed in regular CD players, and you would get to hear soundtracks, audio clips, and the like. I know some audio collage artists that would cheerfully murder for some of them now. If you stuck Sewer Shark in a player and skipped to track two you got a mysterious message not otherwise in the game.
A voice answers a phone saying, "Digital Pictures," only to be answered by bizarre chanting that seems to say "Yoderhunt! Yoderhunt!" I'd wondered for years what that was all about, and YouTube finally answered it for me.
Yep, it was a backmasked rendition of "Revolution 9" from the "White Album" (The Beatles). The longest song in the Beatles catalog is also one of the most controversial. It's where Charlie Manson found much of his inspiration, and is connected heavily to the popular theory that Paul McCartney was killed in a car accident and replaced with a double.
What I heard as "Yoderhunt" others apparently interpret as "turn me on, dead man." I don't hear it, but I'm not a conspiracy nut.
Well, that was one mystery solved, but it begged a bigger question. Why would the Digital Pictures team include it in the first place? To answer that I reached out to Tom Zito, the head of Digital Pictures who is now working as a photographer in California.
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"Because many of us loved the Beatles, Jef, and thought it was an amusing homage," says Zito via email. "It's the entire company chanting the phrase; the voice on the phone is Ken Melville, who wrote the script and co-produced the game."
So there you have it, officially the weirdest place and way I have ever found a Beatles reference. If you have a stranger one, let me know in the comments!