“You listen to Black Sabbath?”  “You must be a Satin worshipper!”  How many times did we hear that, back  in the seventies and eighties?  Many assumed because of the name that the boys from Birmingham were celebrating the joys of selling ones soul to the devil.  But if one listens and reads the lyrics, you find that the opposite is true.  Upon closer examination, Black Sabbath is actually condemning the very things that they are accused of  promoting.

In the late 1960’s, vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Bulter, and drummer Bill Ward made a fateful decision.  They changed their name from Earth to Black Sabbath, and they decided to play dark music.  Ozzy Osbourne says that they used to rehearse near a movie theatre where Boris Karloff’s horror movie “Black Sabbath”, was playing.  Ozzy explains “Isn’t it weird that people pay money to get the crap scared out of them.  That’s when we decided to play scary music.”  

At that time Geezer Butler was big into magic and the new age mystical thing. He had been given a book that was about the occult, and he kept it in a book-case near his bed.  Geezer says that one night he was awakened to the sight of a hooded man in a black cloak at the foot of the bed.  “I couldn’t see  his face.”  He said that he watched the man take the occult book out of his bookcase and then he left.  Geezer thought it was a dream but “when I got up the next morning, only that book was gone!”

Geezer told Ozzy about the encounter, and Ozzy wrote the lyrics to “Black Sabbath”, the first song on their debut album by the same name.   As far music supposedly getting people to worship the devil, Black Sabbath had the opposite effect.   When I first heard this song on headphones, IT SACRED THE HELL OUT OF ME! 

Geezer reveals “The way I saw it, as far as this occult thing goes, I saw it as a sign that I needed to either get in all the way or get out completely.  I choose to get out!”   

The song ends with “Satan’s coming round the bend, people running cause they’re scared, the people better go and beware.  Oh no, please no!”   The song is not about how cool Satan is, but about how it sucks when he comes for you.

Geezer actually wrote most of the lyrics, but on this one Ozzy set the tone for Black Sabbath as a band that guides the listener through the world’ battle between good and evil.

From the same album, “The Wizard” describes a magical stranger that comes to save the people from harm.  “Evil power, disappears, everyone’s happy when the Wizard is near” and “all th people give a happy sigh” demonstrate Black Sabbath’s perspective.  There are powerfully bad forces at work in the universe, and it takes even stronger forces to dispel that evil, and that the evil must always be confronted. 

The next song “Behind the Wall of Sleep” also frames this struggle, ending with “Now from darkness there comes light, Wall of Sleep is cool and bright.  Wall of Sleep is lying broken.”  Once again, the people are delivered from suffering in the world of Sabbath.

Geezer wrote N.I.B. is about Satan falling in love with a human woman and changing, becoming a good person.  That may sound weird to many, but it is a nice thought.

“Wicked World” a song that laments the blight of the less fortunate with “People where on earth are dying of all these diseases”, rounds out an album that throughout engage the subject of  morality and humanity’s value with their driving flowing dark brew of  well-played music. 

Their second album Paranoid continues this theme, with the  song “”War Pigs” denouncing the horrors of war with “Hand of God has struck the hour.” and “on their knees the War Pigs crawling, begging mercy for their sins, Satan laughing spreads his wings. O Lord Yeah!”  Electric Funeral issues a similar warning to the despots with “Evil souls fall to Hell, ever trapped in burning cells.”

Off course I don’t think Black Sabbath is a Christian rock band in the conventional sense of the word.  But most who decried them as a group that promoted Satan obviously didn’t actually listen or read these lyrics. 

And that is a problem that applies to many situations today.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. ant
    April 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Tony Iommi once told in Guitar magazine how he and the band returned to their hotel rooms after a show and found black-robe clad satanists with lit candles (apparently there to praise the band).The members of Sabbath blew out the candles,laughed, and retired to their rooms. I guess satanist don’t listen closely to song lyrics either.

  2. April 5, 2010 at 12:24 am

    nice info thx!

  3. Thomas828
    April 18, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    May I add a track from their third album “Master of Reality” called “After Forever”. “I’ve seen the truth, I’ve seen the light and I’ve changed my ways” and “Open your eyes, and just realise that He is the one, The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate”

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: