The first time I listened to Black Sabbath

What a shitty week, ugh! Since my last post I’ve been embraced by a huge attack of flu which has finished off all my energy, forcing me to spend the week sleeping and vegetating basically, not being able to focus nor getting concentrated for long periods of time on reading, listening to music or watching TV. Really I haven’t been so fucked up in years. As if I’ve wasted my life and time this week, being non productive at all. Moreover because this fuckin’ virus was so tough and contagious, you can imagine I haven’t seen anyone these days. All the time on my fuckin’ own. What a horrible penitence. I NEED BEER ASAP!

Seems that I’m feeling better today, Friday 13th (UUUH), and leaving aside the birthday of a legend, Jason Voorhees, there’s something more relevant to celebrate: the 45th anniversary of the debut album of Black Sabbath.

black sabbath vinyl

Just few months ago I recovered this album to talk about the bells in rock, remembering the intro of ‘Black Sabbath’, with the storm and the bells, as one of the most sinister and overwhelming record openings in the history of rock/metal. Those bells make me think of the end of the hippie era, together with Vietnam (Nixon era) and the Manson family crimes. As if all related, all these facts created the portrait of a dark future ahead.

45 years after its release, this album is still mindblowing, with the same intensity as back in the day. I cannot recall of those days, but at least I have fresh in my memory the first time I listened to this album, followed by Paranoid, 20 ½ years ago.

I remember the year and the month, end of June 1994. Any given summer night, sitting in the copilot seat of my boyfriend’s car, actually his parents’, parked anywhere. You could go to a park or wherever, but the car has the stereo and we could listen to tapes. He asked me if I had ever listened to Black Sabbath, and I felt very ashamed when admitting I hadn’t yet, even though I knew it was one of these classic 70’s band I HAD TO listen. You know how things work when you are a teenager. It’s a constant struggle trying to show the world you know things, you’re an adult already, and you’re worthy of respect.  Thus, at this point someone asks you about a band or something you don’t really know, you can cheat assuring you know, putting your status into risk, or you can admit you don’t know, swallowing the shame and trying to recover your status the soonest. I chose the second option, as I knew he could catch me in a lie, especially related to music, very easily.

So more or less, the conversation was as follows:

-Hey Toi! Which band you prefer, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath? (this is the equivalent question to “are you studying or working?”, huh?)

-Eeeer! I love Led Zeppelin, but I can’t really say about Black Sabbath. Never got the chance to listen to them, and I don’t know anyone who can tape me any stuff. (shit! I’ve fucked it up!)

-Oh, wow! So you haven’t ever listened to BLACK SABBATH!!! (Dude, don’t stare at me as if I was a fuckin’ freak)

-No, man, I haven’t yet. (Toi sinking in shame. SHEEEEEIT!)

-You want to listen to them RIGHT NOW? I got a tape here!

-I’d love to if you feel like, sure. (feeling better?)

– I really feel VERY JEALOUS OF YOU RIGHT NOW. You’re about to listen to BLACK SABBATH!!! for the first time in your life! That is AWESOME!

-Yeah, man. Seem so. (Uuuf! He’s not gonna dump me…yet! Great!)

 

After searching for a tape, the moment of truth arrived. Not only I was to discover Black Sabbath, but also at the same time I was being tested by a guy I liked a lot, and I couldn’t disappoint him. Not that I had to be a yes girl saying the band was absolutely incredible, and blahblahblah, which in some way I had to pretend in case I didn’t like the tape, but the real trick was managing to sound convincing.

The tape started rolling, but no music sounded. He told me to “wait”, so I was staring at nothing focusing all my senses to something it was about to start. And then rain pouring, thunder, a church bell tolling coming closer, to introduce the scariest and most wicked intro I’ve ever listened  to up to date. Fuuuuuck! What the hell was THAT? First lines of the lyrics could perfectly define what I was thinking at that very moment “What is this that stands before me / figure in black which points at me”. Holy shit! I had listened to Megadeth, Iron Maiden or Slayer, but that, that was a way on top different league. Guitar riffs were terrific and threatening, drums and bass super heavy, Ozzy’s voice was that of an evil wizard…I was overwhelmed.

At some point I realized I wasn’t alone inside that car and tried to pull myself together, noticing I had been observed all those 6minutes and something, so when I lifted my head and turn my face to the left to him, my mouth was open in amazement, half smiling, and the only word I could articulate was, of course “FUCK!”. No need to say I passed the test, and brought the cassette home to copy it, with Paranoid on the other side, and a couple of songs of Masters of Reality.

sabbath 1970

This old story works for explaining what this album means to me at all levels. It’s not my favorite Black Sabbath album even though I’d include it in a top 5 list of the band, however I reckon it’s one of the most influential records in my life. I’m not a musician, so I won’t tell you stories about how much it inspired me to write lyrics, and I don’t consider myself a metalhead either, being this album probably the milestone of heavy metal. But listening to those 7 songs, one after the other, ‘The Wizard’, ‘Behind the Wall of Sleep’ (oh man, the drum break at the end, I could listen to it nostop for hours!), ‘N.I.B’, ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Sleeping Village’ and ‘Warning’ blew my mind completely, and opened the gates to another musical dimension, heavier, darker and more powerful, and the word riff came to my life to stay for good. How awesome is that, huh?

45 years since Black Sabbath shocked world, and 20 ½ years since it overwhelmed me, and I reckon there will be lots of other teenagers who will hear this album for the first time in their lives and will get crazy about it in the same way I did, because the power of this masterpiece remains intact, thanks to the timeless magic it was created with.

Satan bless Black Sabbath!

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