NEW YORK - You need a guide to teenage jargon to decipher most pop songs today, but who would think you'd ever need a good Biblical commentary to do the job?
A new recording by The Cowsills is titled "The Prophecy of Daniel and Joh the Divine" and has already been tagged by "Billboard" magazine as a sure bet for the "Top 20" pop-record charts, and, if teenagers really want to dig the words, the ne song may even promote a few sales of the new "Jerome Biblical Commentary" or similar works.
For these are the words to the song, written by Remo Capra and published by Kama-Rippa Music, Inc:
"And when they saw her / rising from the ocean / a name was on her forehead. / Babylon; / Babylon; / Six is the number / Six is the number of a man.
"She was arrayed in purple and scarlet color / And gold and pearls / and in her hand she held a golden cup.
"It's been written down to reveal / Six is the number of his seal. / It's been written to understand / Six is the number of a man.
"Then finally one day, she was cast back into the sea from where she came / So that she would never torment man again.
"It's been written down in Revelation / Daniel and John explanation. / If you read it you will find / It's a sign of warning for mankind."
The song touched off some controversy in the music publishing world when "Billboard," the record industry trade paper, suggested that The Cowsills' MGM recording of the song might run into trouble on some radio stations because "it deals with the destruction of the world as predicted in the Bible."
The Cowsills, a singing family who are Catholic and who got their start several years ago performing for a parochial school in Canton, Ohio, shot back with their own interpretation, denying there was anything pessimistic in the song. Bob Cowsill, at 20 the eldest of the performing Cowsill children (the group is made up of four boys, a girl and their mother, Barbara),said "The Prophecy" did not deal with the destruction of the world "but rather with the destructive force within the world and human nature, which has been with us since the beginning, tormenting humanity with wars, greed, vanity and dissension."
The composer, Remo Capra, said he got his inspiration for the song from the prophecies of Daniel in the Old Testament and from the Apocalypse of the New Testament, St. John, Chapter 13, Verse 18, where he describes beasts coming up out of the sea and the earth: "Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of man; and its number is six hundred and sixty-six."'
As to the "666" reference: in the Apocalypse of St. John, the Jerome Biblical Commentary says it has to do with "the number of a man" when a man's "number" was determined by the number of letters in his name: the "number" being the sum total of the various numerical values given each letters of his name." The most widely accepted theory," says the Jerome Biblical Commentary, "identifies '666' with Neron Caesar. . .Nero fits the context, for he was the first emperor to persecute the Chri-tians; he embodied all the worst characteristics of the Beast, and he came to life again in Domitian (another emperor)."