This week’s Free Ride* reflects on the music of the quintessential madman himself, Ozzy Osbourne, who turns 63 today. From heavy metal to reality tv, he has exercised his freedom in some truly outlandish ways, even by the standards of the crazed culture of rock and roll. For some lyrics that speak to his understanding of freedom, we can pull two songs, one from his Black Sabbath days and one from his solo era.
Into the Void is one of the more popular Black Sabbath songs, and has been covered by numerous bands, from the Melvins and Kyuss to Soundgarden, who substituted a famous speech from Chief Seattle for the original lyrics. Those original words speak of a world that has gone wrong, with pollution, violence, and hate leaving the idealist only one option to find true freedom – fire up the rocket engines and fly off in search of another world. Not one to pay attention to lyrics all that much, I have to say it surprised me to hear Ozzy belting out this kind of preachy protest song that, with an acoustic guitar and stand-up bass backing it, would be right at home at any folk festival.
For Ozzy’s solo contribution to the songbook of freedom, we turn to one of his better known hits, Over the Mountain. It is the lead track on Diary of a Madman, the last project featuring the phenomenal guitar work of the late Randy Rhoads. The theme is similar to the earlier song, a dream of escape.
The good news for Ozzy is that he’s clean and sober now, and no longer needs “substantive” help to levitate and fly off to his land of dreams. In that sense, he is free. It does strike me as funny, though, to hear these fantasy dreams of transcendent escape from one who hosts a reality television show. And while Ozzy and Sharon are hardly Ozzie and Harriet, it does seem like the Osbourne couple is living out the line from Into the Void: Make a home where love is there to stay. May they find, as the song concludes, peace and happiness in every day.