|Single by Black Sabbath|
|from the album Paranoid|
|Genre||Heavy metal, protopunk|
|Writer(s)||Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Ozzy Osbourne|
|Black Sabbath singles chronology|
"Paranoid" is a song by Black Sabbath that appears on the band's second album Paranoid. It is the first single from the album, while the b-side is the song "The Wizard". It reached number 4 on the UK Singles Chart and number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100, also reached #1 on the German Singles Chart.
Guitarist Tony Iommi came up with the riff while the rest of the band was out getting lunch. Upon their return they immediately recorded it in as long as it took to play it through. The lyrics had not been written yet so vocalist Ozzy Osbourne sang whatever came to mind. The final version contained different lyrics penned by bassist and principal lyricist and compositor, Geezer Butler. The song was produced by Rodger Bain.
|“||A lot of the Paranoid album was written around the time of our first album, Black Sabbath. We recorded the whole thing in about 2 or 3 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.||”|
"Paranoid" was released as a single and received regular airplay on mainstream radio. The single, with "Rat Salad" on the B-side, was released in the UK in July 1970 and it reached the number 2 position just being kept off the Number 1 position by Deep Purples "Black Night". It made number 2 on the Dutch Top 40.
The song's lyrics are from the viewpoint of a man suffering from paranoia, however, the word "Paranoid" is never mentioned in the lyric. Lyrics such as People think I'm insane because / I am frowning all the time and Happiness I cannot feel / And love to me is so unreal state his emotions and the symptoms of mental illness at the same time. The last two lines of the song, 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 are the chilling message from a man who loses hope and believes he will suffer for the rest of his life. The oddity of the speaker also shows in his unnatural stress pattern, creating a somewhat forced form of trochaic tetrameters.
"Paranoid" is consistently ranked as one of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time. It is typically associated with both Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath due to its popularity. After Osbourne was fired by the band in 1979, he continued to perform this track normally at the end of the set. Various different live versions have been recorded with Osbourne. This is due to the changes in band lineup since the original Blizzard of Ozz in 1980. Popular live versions featuring various guitarists including Randy Rhoads, Brad Gillis, Jake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde were all recorded and later released.
It was ranked #34 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs. In March 2005, Q magazine placed it at number 11 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. Rolling Stone ranked it number 250 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and called the song, "a two-minute blast of protopunk". In 2009, it was named the 4th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.
The original Black Sabbath recording has been used numerous times in various films and television shows including Sid & Nancy, Dazed and Confused, The Stoned Age, Any Given Sunday, Almost Famous, and We Are Marshall.
In Finland it is an old joke that somebody shouts during every gig "play Paranoid!" ("Soittakaa Paranoid!") just like "Free Bird" is often requested in the United States, and "Stairway to Heaven" in the UK.
|NME||United Kingdom||"All Time Top 100 Singles"||1976||41|
|Spin||United States||"100 Greatest Singles of All Time"||1989||81|
|Radio Veronica||Holland||"Super All-Time List"||1989||16|
|Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame
|United States||"The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs
that Shaped Rock and Roll"
|Guitarist||United Kingdom||"Top 100 Guitar Solos of All-Time"||1998||84|
|DigitalDreamDoor||United States||"Greatest Rock Songs"||2003||136|
|Rolling Stone||United States||"500 Greatest Songs of All Time"||2004||250|
|Q||United Kingdom||"1010 Songs You Must Own!"||2004||*|
|DigitalDreamDoor||United States||"100 Greatest Metal Songs"||2005||15|
|Q||United Kingdom||"100 Greatest Songs of All Time"||2006||100|
|VH1||United States||"40 Greatest Metal Songs"||2006||21|
|DigitalDreamDoor||United States||"100 Greatest Metal Guitar Riffs"||2008||4|
|VH1||United States||"100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"||2008||4|
(*) designates unordered lists.
In the 1991 documentary, Don't Blame Me, Ozzy Osbourne discusses two examples of where a lyric he has sung has been misinterpreted. In "Paranoid", Osbourne state that he has been falsely accused of singing "I tell you to end your life" when, in fact, the lyric is actually "I tell you to enjoy life". He also states that he is not saying "shoot" repeatedly in the song "Suicide Solution" from his debut solo album, Blizzard of Ozz. As an example of how easily one can be mistaken about a lyric, Osbourne goes on to cite his own mistake in interpreting the line "excuse me while I kiss the sky" in Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" as "excuse me while I kiss this guy".
Cover versions of "Paranoid" were performed by:
The opening riff from "Paranoid" is also used at the beginning of the Current 93 song "Lucifer Over London".
The song is in the background of the pub scene in "Sid and Nancy".
|Chart (1970)||Peak position|
|Australian Go-Set National Top 60||18|
|Austrian Singles Chart||3|
|German Singles Chart||1|
|Irish Singles Chart||12|
|Italian Singles Chart||9|
|Netherlands Singles Chart||2|
|Norwegian Singles Chart||6|
|South African Springbok Radio Top 20||3|
|Swiss Singles Chart||2|
|UK Singles Chart||4|
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||61|
|U.S. Cash Box Top 100||79|