This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #370: Paranoid by Black Sabbath.
Welcome to your day, everyone! We begin our musical tour this fine day with a look at one of the pioneering albums in the genre known as Heavy Metal. “Paranoid” (the album) was released in 1970 and is regarded as one of the most important early Metal albums of all-time. At the time of its release, “Black Sabbath” consisted of singer, Ozzy Osbourne, Guitarist, Tony Iommi, Bassist, Geezer Butler and drummer, Bill Ward. In the history of Heavy Metal, guitarist Tony Iommi is widely considered one of the best to ever play. He is the only original member of the band to have stuck through all of the lineup changes over the years. He is still active today. Like many bands that make it to the top of their field, “Black Sabbath” did so on the talent of musicians, like Iommi and, on the personality of charismatic frontmen, like Osbourne. Unfortunately, Osbourne’s brand of “charisma” was often of the attention-seeking variety and usually was fuelled by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. By the time the 1970s came to an end, Ozzy Osbourne was actually fired by the band. He had a solo career of some note in the early 1980s but, since then, he has descended into physical and mental health problems and remains only a shadow of his former self.
But, in their heyday, “Black Sabbath” were a force to be reckoned with. When they released their debut album, the genre of Heavy Metal was generally regarded as a niche market. There was a devoted fanbase who were drawn to the loudness of the bands and their penchant for writing songs that dealt with the darker side of life. However, when “Black Sabbath” wrote their second album, they did something different which was, they wrote a song with political commentary called, “War Pigs”. This song dealt with the band’s distaste for the Vietnam War and was intended to, not only be the lead single but, also, the name of the album. Their record label had other ideas and didn’t want a protest song to define the album and risk alienating their fans. So, they sent the band back to the studio and asked for a new song to add to the album. Tony Iommi had been playing around with a guitar riff that he shared with the band. That riff formed the foundation of a new song called, “Paranoid”. The band thought that the song (less than three minutes long) was merely filler but, the record executives saw it as a hit and slated it to be the first single off of the new album. Furthermore, they decided that it would serve as the album title, too.
As it turned out, the song, “Paranoid” is about being upset about events going on around you and being unable to ease your mind. Like, “War Pigs”, it was, also, a song that had something to say and, once released, it resonated with Heavy Metal fans and with Rock n’ Roll fans, too. Thus, “Paranoid” (the album and the song) became the first cross-over hits to go from the top of the Heavy Metal charts to the top of the Rock charts. “Black Sabbath” went on to have a long and storied career that often straddled the line between the two musical genres. They had album sales in the tens of millions and were elected to The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, too. Despite the notorious antics of Ozzy Osbourne, “Black Sabbath” are highly respected for their contributions to Heavy Metal in the early days of the genre. So, get ready to bang your head because, here is “Black Sabbath” with “Paranoid”. Enjoy!
The link to the music video for “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, can be found here.
The link to the video for “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, as covered by Foo Fighters and Zac Brown, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Black Sabbath, can be found here.
The link to KEXP can be found here. Thanks for helping to inspire the writing of this post. You guys, rock!