TOP TEN SONGS BY OZZY OSBOURNE
Since the advent of MTV’s “The Osbournes,” many younger viewers think they just discovered “The Prince of Darkness.” In reality, older Ozzy fans have been following his controversial career as a performance artist for the past thirty years. From his days with Black Sabbath in the 1970’s to his newer, more self-reflective solo work, Ozzy has been a perpetual icon of the music genre that he created – “heavy metal” rock. Now in his fifties, Ozzy’s drug and alcohol abuse, as well as his history of manic depression has taken its toll upon him both physically and mentally. His often-faltering speech, his equally faltering steps, and his bewildered confusion about what’s going on around him have been fodder for critics who believe that Ozzy is a has-been. But put Ozzy on-stage, and he is instantly transported back in time to the 1980’s and 90’s when he was at the peak of his vibrant talent. Love him or hate him, Ozzy Osbourne is a survivor; he is still the undeniable ruler of heavy metal rock. Whether he’s performing live, or creating performances in the studio, Ozzy never misses a beat, never blows a lyric, and still delivers an extremely powerful musical experience.
Ozzy’s “Top Ten” list is comprised of his early work as a solo performer and his more recent technically sophisticated work of the past five years. His past two CDs, “Down to Earth” and “Covers,” are still hard-pounding metal rock, but they also reflect the more mature Ozzy who has taken stock of his life and his career, always keeping his 20-plus year marriage to wife and manager, Sharon, clearly in the forefront of everything he does. The following list is a reflection of who Ozzy was, and who he is today.
1. “Crazy Train” is Ozzy’s “signature” song. One of his earlier works with metal guitar genius Randy Rhodes, Ozzy’s lyrics perfectly capture the confusion we all feel from time to time and wonder “What’s going on here?” In the 1970’s, Black Sabbath followed many other artists and groups in protesting the Vietnam conflict with songs like “War Pigs.” In “Crazy Train,” Ozzy goes a step further by asking us why we perpetuate armed conflicts. “Crazy, but that’s how it goes. Millions of people living as foes. Maybe it’s not too late to learn how to love, and forget how to hate.”
2. “No More Tears” Some people instinctively understand the dark side of human nature without actually succumbing to it. Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe and H. P. Lovecraft are prime examples of this rare talent. Ozzy as a songwriter clearly demonstrates this ability. This song about a sexual serial killer, which he wrote mid-stream in his career, is uncannily accurate in describing the mind of a killer. Forensic criminologists would likely agree that Ozzy came as close to disclosing the deviant thoughts of a serial killer as possible, without becoming one himself. “I close my eyes and wait to hear the sound of someone screamingÃ¢Â?Â¦no more tears.”
3. “Diary of a Madman” What Ozzy did with the mind of a killer he repeated in this song about the hopelessness of severe mental illness. Only this time, Ozzy is recounting his own struggle with manic depression. Like “No More Tears,” this song is very technically sophisticated, with an arrangement that captures the clamor of a distressed psyche. “Sick in mind and spirit, the mirror tells me lies. Sanity now is beyond me – there’s no choice.” In this song and others, Ozzy refers to the “voices in my head” confirming that Ozzy has struggled with himself in a daily battle for healthy mental functioning.
4. “Running Out of Time” From the 2001 release, “Down to Earth,” this song is strictly autobiographical; Ozzy has often stated that he believes he is going to Hell for his excesses in life, and only his beloved Sharon keeps him going from day to day. Ozzy has never considered himself worthy of the praise and dedication of his fans; in this song he describes himself as “Just another lonely, broken hero picking up the pieces of my mind. Running out of faith and hope and reasonÃ¢Â?Â¦.and running out of time.”
5. “In My Life” This Lennon-McCartney ballad is both lovely and tender. Ozzy shows a rare side of himself by including this song in his 2005 release, “Covers.” He performs the song as it was meant; with passion and devotion to Sharon, the love of Ozzy’s life. This cover demonstrates that Ozzy is a gifted singer who can actually carry a tune, and that he can reveal his own soft, gentle nature that he keeps well-hidden by his “Prince of Darkness” performance persona. “In my life, I’ve loved you more.”
6. “Mr.Tinkertain” is a frightening and completely accurate portrayal of a vicious pedophile that lures children into sexual abuse with no sense of conscience or remorse. Stunningly arranged, the song is harsh to the ear and very disturbing in its lyrics. Ozzy has described the song as “not meant to entertain, but to inform.” By recreating the mind of the pedophiles among us, this song is a warning that the predator is always on the hunt for victims. “Would you like some sweeties little girl? Come a little closer. Gonna show you a brand new world tonight.”
7. “Junkie” is another autobiographical song from “Down to Earth.” In this chaotic song, Ozzy describes his first-hand experience with chemical dependence. Struggling daily to remain drug-free, Ozzy tells his story as no one else can. “If I can’t be a role model,” Ozzy once stated, “I’ll settle for being a horrible warning.” The song is hard-hitting, realistic and very somber. “You’ve tried so hard to quit, but you’ll never admit you’re a junkie. There’s no reasoning why, but the mirror don’t lieÃ¢Â?Â¦you’re a junkie.”
8. “I Don’t Know” Mid-career, Ozzy realized that huge numbers of fans regarded him as a wise prophet with all the answers about life. His goal in this song was to de-fuse the idea that he was someone in tune with the meaning of the world and could guide others in reaching enlightenment. He reminds his fans that he doesn’t understand the questions, much less possess the answers! “People come to me and say “When is the end? Is this the final day? What’s the future of mankind? How do I know; I got left behind. Don’t look to me for answers; don’t ask meÃ¢Â?Â¦I don’t know!”
9. “Shot In The Dark” With his first #1 song in America, Ozzy once again shows his preternatural understanding of the dark, deviant side of human nature. This song, like “Bark at the Moon,” one of Ozzy’s “revenge” songs. Having often been the target of judgment and criticism from parents, religious groups and conservative political figures, Ozzy’s song about a sniper releasing his internal rage is both frightening and eerie in its accuracy. “Never again will the people who hate under-estimate me now. Just a shot in the dark, one step away from you.”
10. “You’re No Different” is Ozzy’s response to those that criticized his music, his lifestyle, and his independence. What Ozzy’s critics fail to understand is that his persona as the “Prince of Darkness” is a performance, nothing more. This song is Ozzy’s statement that judgment and condemnation of others is hypocritical and unwise. “Everything that I say or do in your eyes is always wrong; tell me, where do I belong in your sick society? You’re no different than me.”
Now in his mid-fifties, Ozzy remains one of the “immortals” of rock music alongside the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, The Who, and Alice Cooper. He attributes his on-going success to the loyal Ozzy-heads that both created him and maintains him at the pinnacle of heavy metal rock.
“I try to entertain you the best I can
I wish I’d started walking before I ran
But I just love the feeling I get from you
I hope you’ll never stop, because it gets me through”
– -“Gets Me Through”