The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #370: Paranoid by Black Sabbath (RS)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

RS: 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 ever. 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 and on the personality of charismatic frontmen, Ozzy Osbourne. Unfortunately, Osbourne’s brand of charisma was often of the attention-seeking variety and usually 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 been plagued by physical and mental health problems and remains as only a shadow of his former self.

In their heyday Black Sabbath was 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. They wrote a song with political commentary. It was called “War Pigs” and dealt with the band’s distaste for the Vietnam War. It was intended by the band to be the lead single and also the name of the album. Their record label had other ideas. They didn’t want a protest song to define the album and risk alienating their fanbase. 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.

“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/ Once released, it resonated with Heavy Metal fans and with Rock n’ Roll fans, too. Thus “Paranoid” (the album and the song) became one of 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. 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 lyrics version 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 lyrics version (by Black Sabbath) can be found here.

The link to the official website for Black Sabbath can be found here.

The link to Rolling Stone Magazine can be found here. Thanks for helping to inspire the writing of this post. You guys, rock!

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