Paranoid (song): Wikis


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Single by Black Sabbath
from the album Paranoid
B-side "The Wizard"
"Rat Salad"
Released 1970
Format 45 RPM
Recorded 1970
Genre Heavy metal, protopunk[1]
Length 2:53
Label Vertigo
Writer(s) Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward, Ozzy Osbourne
Black Sabbath singles chronology
"The Wizard"
"Iron Man"
Alternate covers
7" french single.

"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.[2] 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.

Geezer Butler (from Guitar World magazine, March 2004)[3]


"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.

Lyrical themes

The song's lyrics are from the viewpoint of a man suffering from paranoia, however, the word "Paranoid" is never mentioned in the lyric.[3] 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.[4] 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[5] and called the song, "a two-minute blast of protopunk"[6]. In 2009, it was named the 4th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[7]

The original Black Sabbath recording has been used numerous times in various films and television shows including Sid & Nancy,[8] Dazed and Confused,[9] The Stoned Age,[10] Any Given Sunday,[11] Almost Famous,[12] and We Are Marshall.[13]

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.[14][15]


Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
NME United Kingdom "All Time Top 100 Singles"[16] 1976 41
Spin United States "100 Greatest Singles of All Time"[17] 1989 81
Radio Veronica Holland "Super All-Time List"[18] 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"[19]
1994 *
Guitarist United Kingdom "Top 100 Guitar Solos of All-Time"[20] 1998 84
DigitalDreamDoor United States "Greatest Rock Songs"[21] 2003 136
Rolling Stone United States "500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[22] 2004 250
Q United Kingdom "1010 Songs You Must Own!"[23] 2004 *
DigitalDreamDoor United States "100 Greatest Metal Songs"[24] 2005 15
Q United Kingdom "100 Greatest Songs of All Time"[25] 2006 100
VH1 United States "40 Greatest Metal Songs"[26] 2006 21
DigitalDreamDoor United States "100 Greatest Metal Guitar Riffs"[27] 2008 4
VH1 United States "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[28] 2008 4

(*) designates unordered lists.

Misheard lyric

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".

The web address of the Archive of Misheard Lyrics website,, was inspired by this comment.


Cover versions of "Paranoid" were performed by:

In other media

"Paranoid" has also been featured on the soundtracks of several video games including Rock 'N' Roll Racing, Rock Band, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock, and Madden NFL 10.

The opening riff from "Paranoid" is also used at the beginning of the Current 93 song "Lucifer Over London".

The song is featured in Supenatural's episode Phantom Traveler after Dean and Sam leave the tailor shop with their new tuxedos.

The song is in the background of the pub scene in "Sid and Nancy".

Track listing

The 1980 re-release cover b/w "Snowblind"
7" single (Vertigo 6059 010) [37]
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:45
  2. "The Wizard" – 4:20
7" single (Vertigo 6059 014)
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:50
  2. "Rat Salad" - 2:30
7" singles (Vertigo AS 109)
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:50
  2. "Happy Being Me" - 15:54
7" 1977 re-release (Immediate 103 466)
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:50
  2. "Evil Woman" - 3:25
7" 1977 re-release (Nems SRS 510.044)
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:50
  2. "Tomorrow's Dream" - 3:11
7" 1980 re-release (Spiegelei INT 110.604)
  1. "Paranoid" – 2:45
  2. "Snowblind" - 5:25


Chart positions

Chart (1970) Peak position
Australian Go-Set National Top 60[38] 18
Austrian Singles Chart[39] 3
German Singles Chart[40] 1
Irish Singles Chart[41] 12
Italian Singles Chart[42] 9
Netherlands Singles Chart[39] 2
Norwegian Singles Chart[39] 6
South African Springbok Radio Top 20[43] 3
Swiss Singles Chart[39] 2
UK Singles Chart[44] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[45] 61
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[46] 79


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  2. ^ Black, Johnny (14 March 2009). "Black celebration: the holy grail of Black Sabbath". Music Week. UBM Information Ltd.. Retrieved 27 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b "Paranoid by Black Sabbath". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  4. ^ "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1-4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by; last accessed September 10, 2006
  5. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
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  7. ^ " music". Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  8. ^ "IMDb Sid & Nancy soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  9. ^ "IMDb Dazed and Confused soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  10. ^ "IMDb The Stoned Age soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  11. ^ "IMDb Any Given Sunday soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  12. ^ "IMDb Almost Famous soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  13. ^ "IMDb We are Marshall soundtrack". Retrieved March 28, 2009. 
  14. ^ Timo Rautio: Rokatessa roiskuu osa 3 (2004)
  15. ^ Walter De Camp: "Sisäpiiri: Walter De Campin tutkimuksia – Extreme-seksin maantiede" An article appeared in paper "City-lehti", 2006, issue 20, page 26 URL:
  16. ^ "NME Lists". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  17. ^ "Spin: 100 Greatest Singles Of All Time (1989)". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Super All-Time List - From 1989". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  19. ^ "500 Songs That Shaped Rock". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  20. ^ "Guitar Lists". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  21. ^ "Greatest Rock Songs". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  22. ^ "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  23. ^ "1010 Songs You Must Own!". Retrieved 2010-03-14. 
  24. ^ "100 Greatest Metal Songs". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  25. ^ "Q Lists". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  26. ^ "40 Greatest Metal Songs (VH1 made a decent effort)". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  27. ^ "100 Greatest Metal Guitar Riffs". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  28. ^ "VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
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  37. ^ "Paranoid Vinyl 7" Discography". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  38. ^ "27 February 1971 Singles". Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  39. ^ a b c d "Black Sabbath - Paranoid (song)". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  40. ^ "BLACK SABBATH: Paranoid (Single)". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  41. ^ "Paranoid". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  42. ^ "Indice per Interprete: B". Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  43. ^ "SA Charts 1969 - 1989". Retrieved 2010-03-01. 
  44. ^ "Paranoid". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  45. ^ "Billboard Singles". Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  46. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 

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