Life shaping song

I see where the members of Black Sabbath have released a brand new CD, called 13. I have no idea what it sounds like, but I'm guessing the guys haven't succumbed to modern trends and picked up the mandolins and banjos.

Coincidentally, I did buy a Sabbath disc last week, but not this new one. No, in a moment of raw nostalgia, I started jonesin' to hear the very first Sabbath album. It was a record that did a fine job of messing up my mind in 1970 and was easily my Album of the Year. What else would you expect from a 17 year-old Fresnan? And now, with the bloodshot eyeball of hindsight and history, we can see that I'm not completely daft when I assert that it was on that first Sabbath album that an entire new genre was born.

Actually, this new genre of rock was hatched right away, on the very first cut on that record. The “song,” if you could call it that, was “Black Sabbath.” So you've got the tune “Black Sabbath” on the album Black Sabbath by the band Black Sabbath. Eponymous Bosch! Eponymosity run amok! Nice branding, fellas!

The track opens with the sound of pouring rain. Then, a bell begins to toll. Slowly. Thunder cracks. Obviously, this ain't gonna be no sunshine daydream. Then, out of the thunder, guitarist Tony Iommi unleashes his secret musical weapon, the three most ominous tones in rock history, the famous tritone that is the epitome of doom, gloom, and downness. I had no idea at the time that the band was using a musical device. the tritone, that had been banned by the Church during the Catholic Centuries. All I knew was, damn, that's some heavy shit right there! Here it comes—G! Up one octave! D flat! In the mind of the listener, things very quickly got—unsettled.

Now, enter Ozzy. The young Ozzy, his voice powerful and perfect. “What is this that stands before me? Figure in black, that points at me.” Run, Ozzy, run! And he does! He starts to run when he finds out that he is The Chosen One! And then he uncorks the powerful, blood chilling wail, “Oh God, Oh God please help me!” He means it! He's in trouble! But then he's swallowed up by the Tritone of Doom! Another Tritone of Doom! And again! Heavy metal lives! The baby's right there in the crib. Do you dare take a look?

Anyway, the song is freakin' awesome. Still is. The rest of the album? Some of it's cool, some of it's a sludgy mess, but that doesn't matter. In those opening six minutes, Oz, Tony, Bill and Geezer were gods. Or devils? Definitely troublemakers. All I knew was—it would be a while before I listened to my Beach Boy records again.