When things are investigated, knowledge is extended. When knowledge is extended, the will becomes sincere. When the will is sincere, the mind is correct. When the mind is correct, the self is cultivated. -- Confucius
Politically correct ideals are garbage: true wisdom comes from decades of deep thought and neutral observation. Only a so-called sociopath could ascertain wisdom from this crazy world in a neutral way. Cool thoughts- uncorrupted by modern politics, social norms, or societal ideals- are required for wisdom. Questioning everything, and going against the grain on all universally accepted norms is the path to true intelligence. The Gods notice this.

11/4/10

'I AM OZZY' : a biased analysis

* this post updated 01/25/2016 *

I first started to admire Ozzy Osbourne when I was in my early teens. I recall my sister, about sixteen at the time, saying how his lyrics in the song Crazy Train were evil, because he says "I've listened to preachers, I've listened to fools..." She thought it meant 'listened to preachers: [therefore] listened to fools', while actually it means 'listened to preachers [and] listened to fools'- at least in my opinion. It makes the most sense, and Ozzy would never call a preacher a fool anyway, his song Miracle Man notwithstanding. She was on a weird trip at the time, collecting bibles and drinking lots of vodka (she is now a Wiccan that doesn't drink). I was just a normal kid who obsessed over catching snakes and watching Star Trek. Aside from who was weirder, I liked the song. I got into pop music and 80s rock for years (this was in the 80s), and heard little if anything of Ozzy for some time. I then met a new crowd of friends in 12th grade. They got me into thrash metal, thanks to my new friend Eric, as well as punk rock- thanks to his sister Jennifer. After moving from that state I discovered the less intense heavy metal, and delved into it as well as classic rock (classic to me is 70s). Somewhere in there I became enamored with Ozzy: the coolest rock star by far. I ended up accumulating nearly all of his albums, as well as the Black Sabbath ones. I seen him at Ozzfest twice.

Anyway, the autobiography he wrote was read with a little trepidation. I feared he would turn out to be an awful person of some sort, and I would hate him. Then what would I do? Wear gloves all the time?




  
In spite of my fears, I delved in...

The book is written in a vernacular style, as if he is sitting in front of you telling a story. All of the English spelling, punctuation, and slang is in there, with no mercy to the Americans. I managed to translate most of it, but a couple words still threw me. The key to understanding this book is to know that in England, "pissed" is slang for what Americans call "wasted". He was not mad all the time, he was drunk. Knowing that from the start would have been much easier.

The book was hilarious throughout, and remained fairly relevant and coherent as to telling his life story.  He is not the boob so many think he is. When on the Osbournes MTV show, he was on 42 prescriptions at once. How well could you talk or walk if you were on that many pills? Now he takes two prescriptions and talks as normally as you or I, and is obviously not a loon. (Remember that Elvis died of overdosing on prescription drugs, and look what happened to MJ- the docs almost killed Ozzy too).

The one event that disturbed me the most was when he killed some feral cats. I thought I could get past it though, as he was 'pissed' on cocaine, booze, and hash, and also apologized and specifically condemned animal cruelty. As for the dove incident, booze plus youthful indiscretion / desperation of a rock star to save his career/ idiocy? At least it was a long time ago and he expressed regret for it too. The bat was an accident, and the chickens were a similar scenario as the cats. The slaughterhouse job was a job, and he never meant he enjoyed the task- he just had a job he got used to for once. Although the cat story bugged me, I had come to terms with it and still liked Ozzy for years.

*Five years later, I discover that he also shot and killed his first wife's cats. I looked into it, and found it is probably true (he talked about it in an interview with Guitar Legends Magazine- issue #37, in 2000). This was the final straw for me. If it is not true, he should not be making up such horrible stuff just to get attention. If it is true, he should not be bragging about it decades after the fact. Either way, I no longer believed he opposes animal cruelty. Seems like a pattern with him- when the opportunity arises, he just does it for kicks.

*As much as I like animals, this disgusted me. I could no longer bear to be a fan of his or even listen to his music anymore. I threw away all of his albums- I had every one including the box sets- as well as all small items such as the two foot tall Ozzy werewolf Bark at the Moon doll. I pitched everything. Comfortable with this decision, I considered deleting this old post, but decided to just update it with the new info. 

Aside from this, I found everything in the book fascinating and/or hilarious. I have seen many a review on Amazon that spoils books and movies for everyone else, trying to synopsize it instead of evaluating it. I don't do that. But I do have a few criticisms.

There should have been a one page translation list for the Americans who are not familiar with British slang (maybe in the next edition, publishers?). It also left out one key sentence that was at Ozzy's behest, obviously. When an employee of a rehab clinic told him he had calculated Ozzy's financial losses due to booze and drugs, it says, "I almost threw up." So he can admit freely to the animal killing, hitting his wives, continuous drug and alcohol abuse, not taking care of his kids, and so on, but he cannot bear to say how much money this nonsense cost him??! It was the worst way to leave a reader hanging.

I also very strongly feel that he was way too lenient on two people that really screwed him over the years. It is his opinion and he had the protection of provable facts plus his self-depreciating disclaimer in the front of the book to fend off lawsuits. But being candid only went so far, obviously.

One person he should have exposed in more detail was the second manager Black Sabbath had- Patrick Meehan. He screwed the band out of every penny of their earnings for their two best albums: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Vol.4. These two, especially Vol. 4, contain some of their best songs (my fave is Supernaut..). On their next album, Sabotage, Ozzy wrote a song about him called The Writ. But the book barely mentions this old manager's misdeeds. This is not to mention the band's first manager, who gave them nary a penny for their first two albums (Black Sabbath and Paranoid). They literally had to rob gardens to eat because this guy didn't pay them. Then he had the nerve to sue when they got a new manager. But Ozzy thought he was a nice guy.

Ozzy also barely mentions how Tony Iommi constantly intimidated the band and tried to be in control of it, even though it was nothing without Ozzy, who actually started Sabbath to begin with. The ad that Ozzy posted and Tony answered, the PA system, the vocals themselves- all made Ozzy the true founder of Sabbath as far as I am concerned. As good as Iommi is at guitar, he is one of so many guitarists while each vocalist is unique. When Rob Halford left Judas Priest and the band replaced him with Ripper Owens, the new band was excellent, but they did not sound like the real Judas Priest anymore and may as well have changed their name, until Halford came back later. It is similar for Van Halen, though in that case the name for the band comes from the guitarist and drummer- brothers- who founded the band. Plus, the guitarist Eddie is a virtuoso who does not need vocals to amaze crowds. Tony Iommi is good, very good, but not a virtuoso that does solos which knock peoples' socks off. It was Ozzy alone that made Sabbath unique, and all its other 3 members could have been replaced. Tony's riffs for Iron Man and War Pigs are exceedingly simple and could have been thought up by any other talented musician to go with the other members' lines. This has always been the way I look at it, and even Ozzy would disagree with me perhaps, but I am just a metalhead with a wider view. This view has allowed me to see Iommi over the years walking around with his nose in the air, especially in regards to Ozzy. In the book, Ozzy merely states, " ...I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel betrayed by what happened with Black Sabbath.... Firing me for being fucked up was hypocritical bullshit. We were all fucked up. If you're stoned and I'm stoned, how can that fucking be? Because I'm slightly more stoned than you are?..."  Then, after saying how he has gotten over it, he says of the new band with their new singer, "So I just wish they'd called the band Black Sabbath II. That's all. "

So he goes easy, okay, he is a nice guy. But the current lawsuit is mentioned near the end of the book as well, where he really goes easy on Tony. Iommi took over the rights to the name Black Sabbath without consulting anyone else, and when Ozzy found out, he sued. Ozzy wants all four original band members to have equal rights to it with equal royalties. Tony wants everyone's share and complete control. So Ozzy writes, "We'll see what happens, but I hope it gets resolved, 'cos I have the greatest respect for Tony Iommi."  ...Too nice... The thanks list at the end of the book misspells Tony Iommi as Tony IoNNi- I like to think on purpose...

While criticizing here, I would like to also remind some obsessed fans of Zakk Wylde that he was a supporting member of a solo artist's band. Ozzy had every right to fire him, especially since he was acting like Tony used to: strongarming Ozzy. By this I mean he wanted more and more lenghty solos played at concerts, which overshadowed Ozzy and his songs. He also started his own band- the Black Label Society- which he managed to slot as opener for Ozzfest shows, then later played as Ozzy's guitarist in the same concert. He was taking over, using Ozzy as a vehicle and distracting the fans with his excellent guitar skills. This was not his place, he overstepped big time. Though Ozzy said Zakk's alcoholism was the reason he fired him, I suspect his wife/manager Sharon actually made it happen for the reasons I just said. Regardless, I am glad that Zakk is gone- he can now play his plodding songs with whiny vocals all he wants on his own tours. If he was smart he would either get a new singer besides himself or just do guitar work only, similar to Joe Satriani.

In the end, I read the book in less than two days- pretty good for me. I noted the most interesting and funny things as I went, since there is no index. Here is a mini-index for all future readers of the book, page # followed by event; tildas are for the most hilarious stuff:

24   couch fire~
82   stole gas from a priest
88   played nazi
137  did 7 grams of coke off a bathroom floor~
141  hooker/banana story~~
146  cat tragedy
151  poisons preacher with hash~
159  scares Ward half to death~~
170  horses talk to him~
212  dove incident
226  bat incident
245  stole flowers from a grave~
257  bought 3,456 bottles of wine~
         ("it took months for me and the roadies to polish it all off..")
288  doctors find he has no immune system~
292  lyrics to paranoid
321  uses Roger Whittaker's curtains for toilet paper~
271  his hand tattoo~~
295  his religious views

Besides these highlights, he also caught on fire twice, woke up on a freeway island in Memphis, rode atop a skylift, and disrupted Yes. Perhaps most significant though, was his excellent description of what blue collar work- especially factory work- really can be like. Done that- now if only I can get a singing gig....*As soon as I get the tattoo removed.


* updates


(c) james platt

No comments:

Post a Comment

constructive comments appreciated. name calling and links deleted.