Black Sabbath – War Pigs

I really like the sound they had at that time…it was dirty and raw.

For this song they got the idea from war stories they heard when they did a show at an American Air Force base during a tour of Europe. The four members wrote the song when they were in a grim deserted place in Zurich where they were playing for a small sum of money to an even smaller audience.

The band wanted to use this as the title of the album, but the record company thought it was too controversial and made them use “Paranoid,” another song on the album, instead. The album art, however, is a literal interpretation of a “War Pig,” showing a war “pig” with a sword and shield.

It was originally titled ‘Walpurgis’, an anniversary associated with witches and Satanists, but was changed on the recommendation of Black Sabbath’s record company. Ozzy released the original version on his 1997 album The Ozzman Cometh… the song though as the finish product was…just talk about the nightmare of War.

Geezer Butler : “Britain was on the verge of being brought into it, there was protests in the street, all kinds of anti -Vietnam things going on. War is the real Satanism. Politicians are the real Satanists. That’s what I was trying to say.”

Songfacts

This is one of many Black Sabbath songs that is often misinterpreted as evil. The song speaks out against the horrors of war.

On the US albums, this is listed as “War Pigs/Luke’s Wall.” “Luke’s Wall” is another name for the end of the song.

On the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black, Faith No More contributed a live cover version. Faith No More also covered this on their 1989 album The Real Thing

War Pigs has been used as the name of various Black Sabbath tribute bands. We found one in Australia and another in Long Island, NY.

Ozzy’s former guitarist Zakk Wylde did a cover of this song after he went solo. Other artists who did covers: Slaves on Dope, Pig, Ether, Faith No More, Weezer, Boss Tweed, Red House Painters, Members Only, Badlands, Soulfly, Vital Remains, Ween, Sheavy, Gov’t Mule, Phish, Sacred Reich, Alice Donut, Flores Secas, Banda Arie, and Flores Secas. 

This song is used for an encore in the video game Guitar Hero II for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360. 

When the Sacramento band Tesla recorded this in 2007, lead guitarist Frank Hannon added a peace of Jimi Hendrix flavored “The Star Spangled Banner” to start the song.” It is the final track on Tesla’s Real To Reel 2-disk cover album, which is a tribute to Tesla’s mentors. 

The song starts with the lyric, “Generals gathered in their masses. Just like witches at black masses.” Bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler was asked during a 2013 interview with Spin magazine why he used “masses” twice rather than coming up with a different word. “I just couldn’t think of anything else to rhyme with it,” he admitted. “And a lot of the old Victorian poets used to do stuff like that – rhyming the same word together. It didn’t really bother me. It wasn’t a lesson in poetry or anything.”

The song soundtracked a TV spot previewing the 2014 movie, 300: Rise Of An Empire.

War Pigs

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Yeah

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’till their judgment day comes
Yeah!

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

Black Sabbath – Sweet Leaf…Drug Reference Week

Not a big surprise here…this song is about marijuana, and makes little attempt to disguise it. The band did a lot of marijuana and many other drugs around this time.

The sound at the beginning is Tony Iommi coughing after inhaling marijuana smoke from a bong and it was looped.

They got the name from a pack of Irish Cigarettes that said “It’s the sweet leaf.” They thought that Sweet Leaf was a great description of marijuana, and the entire band wrote the song together.

The song was on Master of Reality. The album peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Chart, #5 in the UK, and #6 in Canada.

 

From Songfacts

The guitar riff was taken from Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention’s “Hungry Freaks, Daddy.” This riff can also be heard at the end of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Give It Away” and is the basis for the song “Rhymin’ and Stealin'” by The Beastie Boys. 

A Sabbath tribute band from Denmark is named Sweet Leaf.

This has been covered by Next Step Up, Stock Mojo, Garbage, Ancient, Ugly Kid Joe, Butthole Surfers, Mogwai, Stereolab, Agent Steel, Pimpadelic, Cadaver, and Widespread Panic. 

Sweet Leaf

Alright now
Won’t you listen?

When I first met you, didn’t realize
I can’t forget you, for your surprise
You introduced me, to my mind
And left me wanting, you and your kind, oh yeah

I love you, oh you know it

My life was empty, forever on a down
Until you took me, showed me around
My life is free now, my life is clear
I love you sweet leaf, though you can’t hear, oh yeah

Come on now, try it out

Straight people don’t know, what you’re about
They put you down and shut you out
You gave to me a new belief
And soon the world will love you sweet leaf, oh yeah baby

Come on now, oh yeah
Try me out baby, alright, oh yeah
I want you part of this sweet leaf, oh yeah
Alright, yeah, yeah, yeah, oh try me out
I love you sweet leaf, oh

Black Sabbath – Paranoid

It’s all about that opening guitar riff. Another one that every guitar player learns no matter if they play rock or country. I’ve never been a big fan of Black Sabbath but I do like some of the early music.

This was the title track to the second Sabbath album. The band wanted to call the album “War Pigs,” after another song on the set, but the record company made them use “Paranoid” instead because it was less offensive. The album art, however, is a literal interpretation of a “War Pig,” showing a pig with a sword and shield.

The song peaked at #61 in the Billboard 100 in 1971.

Black Sabbath waited two years before releasing another single, “Iron Man.” They did not want to become a “singles band,” with kids coming to their shows just to hear their hits. This also ensured that fans would buy the albums.

From Songfacts

As the title suggests, this song is about a man who is paranoid. The driving guitar and bass create a nervous energy to go along with Ozzy Osbourne’s desperate vocal. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler, who wrote the lyric, explained the song’s meaning to Mojo magazine June 2013: “Basically, it’s just about depression, because I didn’t really know the difference between depression and paranoia. It’s a drug thing; when you’re smoking a joint you get totally paranoid about people, you can’t relate to people. There’s that crossover between the paranoia you get when you’re smoking dope and the depression afterwards.”

Although this was the first Black Sabbath-penned single, the band’s debut single was actually a cover of Crow’s “Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” a few months before the “Paranoid” release. “Paranoid” was much more successful. It was released six months after their self-titled first album and had a huge impact in their native UK, going to #4 and becoming one of their signature songs.

The group never charted again in the UK Top 10, but that wasn’t a problem since album and ticket sales more than made up for it. Many UK rock bands, including Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, put little emphasis on singles.

Geezer Butler (from Guitar World magazine, March 2004): “A lot of the Paranoid album was written around the time of our first album, Black Sabbath. We recorded the whole thing in about two or three days, live in the studio. The song ‘Paranoid’ was written as an afterthought. We basically needed a 3-minute filler for the album, and Tony came up with the riff. I quickly did the lyrics, and Ozzy was reading them as he was singing.” >>

The word “Paranoid” is never mentioned in the song, but there is no logical title amongst the lyrics.

“The Wizard,” a song from their first album, was used as the B-side of the single.

In the UK, this was re-released in 1980 to capitalize on the success of Black Sabbath: Live At Last, which was released earlier that year. The album was taken from a Sabbath concert in 1975 with the original band members.

Black Sabbath played this in their set at Live Aid in 1985.

Megadeth covered this on the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black. Weezer included it on their 2019 covers set The Teal Album.

A surprising number of movies have used this song. Among them:

Sid and Nancy (1986)
Dazed and Confused (1993)
Private Parts (1997)
Any Given Sunday (1999)
Almost Famous (2000)
Slugs (2004)
We Are Marshall (2006)
Dark Shadows (2012)

This song is used in two music based video games: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, Playstation 2, and Playstation 3, and also in the video game Rock Band for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. >>

In Finland, “Paranoid” has the same status as “Freebird” in the US or “Stairway to Heaven” in the UK. Regardless of the band or the type of music they play, someone will often shout “Soittakaa Paranoid!” (Play “Paranoid”).

Tony Iommi recorded Paranoid with a black eye after the band had gotten involved in a brawl with some punks. This incident is also referred to in “Fairies Wear Boots.”

In his book Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, Iommi said he and Ozzy probably had no idea what the word “paranoid” even meant at that time. They left the lyrics to bassist Geezer Butler; they considered him the intelligent one.

Black Sabbath played (OK, lip-synched) this on Top of the Pops in 1970.

In 2002 Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Phil Collins, and Pino Palladino (of the Who) played this song in Buckingham Palace during the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Paranoid

Finished with my woman ’cause she couldn’t help me with my mind
People think I’m insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify
Can you help me, occupy my brain?

Oh yeah
I need someone to show me the things in life that I can’t find
I can’t see the things that make true happiness, I must be blind

Make a joke and I will sigh and you will laugh and I will cry
Happiness I cannot feel and love to me is so unreal
And so as you hear these words telling you now of my state
I tell you to enjoy life I wish I could but it’s too late

 

Black Sabbath – Iron Man

Another song that the riff is easy for beginning guitar players to learn how to play. It was one of the first ones I learned. This was the biggest US hit for Black Sabbath. It got very little radio play but developed a cult following, which led to enough sales to give it a chart position.

Iron Man peaked at #52 in 1972 in the Billboard 100. The song was written by all of the members of the band.

Black Sabbath Bass guitar player Geezer Butler: “I was walking down the street one day and thought… ‘what if there were a bloody great bloke made out of metal walking about?”‘ 

From Songfacts

This song is about a man who travels through time and sees the end of the world. On his way back to Earth to warn the human race, he goes through a magnetic storm and is turned to iron. Nobody believes him about the end of the world and he gets mad, taking his rage out on the human race, thus bringing about the end of the world that he saw.

This was the second Black Sabbath single in the US, but it was not released as a single in England. When their first single, “Paranoid,” was released a year earlier, a lot of kids would show up at Sabbath shows just to hear the one song. The band wanted to cater to their core fans and discourage interlopers, so they became stingy with their single releases.

A new version was included on the 2000 Black Sabbath Reunion album. It won the Grammy that year for Best Metal Performance.

How the distorted vocals at the beginning that say “I am Iron Man” were created has been a topic of debate. It has been rumored that Osbourne sang through an oscillating metal fan to get the sound, but it’s more likely that his voice was run through a processor called a ring modulator, which creates a wobbly electronic effect by mixing the input signal with an oscillator. This is the device used to create the voices of the Daleks on Doctor Who, and it’s something Toni Iommi has used – you can hear it on his guitar solo in “Paranoid.”

Ozzy recorded a new version of this for the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black.

This has been covered by Marilyn Manson, Alice in Chains, Butthole Surfers, Add N To (X), Busta Rhymes, Therapy, NOFX, Auburn U. Band, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Tim McCarthy, Heavy Voltage, DYS, Tanzwut, EMO, Amoco Renegades, Dead Alewives, Replacements, The Cardigans, The Mats, and Offspring. 

Ozzy recorded a version of this with Busta Rhymes in 1998 for Busta’s album Extinction Level Event. The track was renamed “This Means War.” The version with Busta Rhymes was included on the 2000 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity In Black II.

On his 2001 song “Gets Me Through,” Ozzy referenced this in the line, “I’m not the antichrist or the Iron Man.”

Bob Rivers did a Christmas parody of this called “I Am Santa Claus.” It was one of his first Twisted Tunes.

In the film School of Rock, this is the first riff that Jack Black teaches the guitarist in the band. He also teaches him “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple and “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. >>

This song is sampled in Futurama Episode 29 – “Anthology of interest 1,” where a 500-foot tall Bender flies to earth with the main riff audible in the background. >>

In 2007, Nissan used this in commercials for their pickup trucks. >>

Pro wrestling tag team The Road Warriors used this song as their entrance theme in the early to mid-’80s. 

This was featured in the 2008 film by the same name, based on the Marvel Comics Superhero. 

This was featured as a playable song in Guitar Hero 1. 

Frank Zappa once surprised members of Black Sabbath by covering this song with his own band at a gig Sabbath attended.

Iron Man

I am iron man

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all
Or if he moves will he fall?

Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We’ll just pass him there
Why should we even care?

He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
For the future of mankind

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold

Now the time is here
For iron man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved

Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge

Heavy boots of lead
Fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron man lives again