Black Sabbath were a phenomenon when they burst onto the scene at the beginning of the seventies. They did so with a canon of songs that cracked through the public consciousness and announced the arrival of heavy metal. That said, Ozzy Osbourne considers one song to be the band’s most important.
Osbourne was speaking on a radio programme in 2019 when he picked the iconic Sabbath song ‘Paranoid’ is not only the band’s most important song but his own personal anthem.
“I think it has to be ‘Paranoid’ from Black Sabbath. I still play that song live on stage, I end the show with it… I just call it my anthem,” said Osbourne when posed with the song that still holds the most important for him as a performer. The reasoning for picking the song seemed to be that it was the song that launched them into the rock stratosphere from relative obscurity.
“I went to school with Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath,” said Osbourne referring to the band’s powerhouse guitarist. “I wasn’t friendly with him in school, though we became mates. Black Sabbath is a band with local guys that had a dream, and it all came true.” Much of that dream scenario becoming reality can be traced back to ‘Paranoid.
“I remember when Roger Bain, the producer [of ‘Paranoid], said, ‘Just jam something out, we need it to finish the album.’ We just jammed and ‘Paranoid’ came out, and it was a hit single.
“People would say, ‘That ‘Paranoid’ is great, it’s gonna be huge.’ When you’re in the bubble looking out, it’s a completely different view than from outside the bubble looking in. I mean, I’d become in my own way a Beatle, you know?” It was a life-changing moment and it arrived without much forethought, a perfectly fitting moment of pure expression which added extra weight to their iconic album of the same name.
“It’s a simple song with an effective rhythm. It’s got its own colour, it’s got its own vibe. I like to think that people in the years to come will still get enjoyment out of it.
“Every now and then you get a song from nowhere, it’s a gift – that was one of them songs that came out of nowhere, the biggest hit earlier on. It was the first time that I had a Top 10 single, apart from ‘Changes’ with my daughter Kelly. It’s one of those songs, it stands around the time. And I hope people in the future get as much enjoyment as people now get it.”
Anyone who was lucky enough to catch an Osbourne live show in recent years will have noted the song’s inclusion in his sets. Singing it wasn’t something that Osbourne had planned on. “When I first departed from Sabbath [in the late ’70s], I said, ‘I’m not gonna do any more Sabbath.’ And then the kids were going, ‘We want to hear this one, ‘Iron Man,’ ‘War Pigs,’ ‘Paranoid’…’
“And then I thought, ‘Why not?’. Every night, I’ll do that song somewhere in my show. It’s one of those songs that I can’t get away from, it’s still as much fun to play now as it was back then. It’s a good song.”