Written by Sombra Blanca
It’s hard to believe the song "Paranoid" was an afterthought for Black Sabbath. The title track from their seminal 1970 album was also the last to be added, created in 20 minutes and, along with "Iron Man," has come to define the four lads from Aston, England. Band members Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Bill Ward and Terry "Geezer" Butler all share the tale of the creation of "Paranoid," both the song and the album, during the Classic Albums documentary series.
A wonderful concept, the series lets those who created some of music’s most important modern albums — Dark Side of the Moon, Songs in the Key of Life, The Joshua Tree and Graceland, for example — give in essence a play-by-play for the origins of each song. Series producers also bring in the assorted cast of critics and musicians for praise of the music and its place in history.
One of the great things about the Black Sabbath documentary, compared to some of the others, is all four original band members are still around to discuss Paranoid, giving even dedicated "Sabbath-teurs" some new insight into a band that changed rock 'n' roll, and arguably created heavy metal.
With the band’s now 40-year influence still present, so much of what they created seemed to just materialize out of thin air, or perhaps fermented liquid and pungent herbs. The documentary provides just enough discussion about the band’s history, which of course started with an emulation of the Beatles, as well as their self-titled first album. That’s key because the viewer hears about gigs at the Star Club, where the Fab Four got their start. Black Sabbath had eight 45-minute time slots each day, but only eight songs, so each set was a 45-minute jam of one song.
One could, and perhaps should, be punched in the face for calling Black Sabbath a jam band. Yet it was that experience through which the band not only became a four-piece juggernaut, but also developed much of the material for the first two albums. "It just flowed out with the riffs," Geezer says. "We all played together like each of us knew what was coming next."