A reader requested post! This one actually comes from my cousin Mike way back in March. At that time my opinion of this album was a lot different. While my answer changed, I think in the delay it changed for the better.
When I was asked to listen the only songs I had heard so far were the collaborations with Post Malone. Track 10 “Its a Raid” and the bigger one Track 11 “Take What You Want”. It didn’t sound like an Ozzy song. Either of them. They both sounded like a Post Malone song with Ozzy showing up as a guest. I’m all for guest appearances on albums but if your name is the main name on the album I expect you to be the star and anyone else to be a guest. Also, I’m an old man. Listen to Post Malone all you want. I have nothing against him or his songs. They just don’t do anything for me. So I set the whole concept of the album aside and thought I’ll revisit it “someday”.
Someday surprised me when it arrived, and it arrived in the form of my wife. See, my wife hates my music. HATES. While she loves me and will buy me CDs for gift giving occasions she doesn’t want to hear any of it. I usually listen to albums when she’s not around. I went to a concert in October by myself. She frequently asks me to turn off the radio or change to a different station. So when she perked her ears up at the radio and said “who is this?!” I knew there was something special.
What got her was the album’s title track, “Ordinary Man”. Ozzy takes us through his life, for good or bad. In a true guest starring role, Elton John plays piano and sings the second verse. It’s incredible.
Yes, I’ve been a bad guy
Been higher than the blue sky
And the truth is I don’t wanna die an ordinary man
I’ve made momma cry
Don’t know why I’m still alive
Yes, the truth is I don’t wanna die an ordinary man
This is a man taking an honest look at his legacy. Let’s face it, he’s in his 70’s and did severe damage to his mind and body over the years. Every day most likely feels like borrowed time. He changed rock music and helped create metal. He changed the idea of the mega concert tour with Ozzfest. He changed reality TV. He brought so much talent to a bigger audience who then went on to create masterpieces of his own. He raised three children. But what is he to so many people? The guy that bit the head off of a bat.
As anyone who watched the Osbournes knows, he had a bad history of mumbling incoherently. On the show it was played off as all the damage he did over the years but in reality he was horribly over medicated. That damage and his age have changed his voice from what we heard not only in Black Sabbath but even as his solo career started. Even as far in as “No More Tears”. That voice is not his current voice. Sometimes he sounds horribly over produced. “Straight to Hell” is a great get psyched up metal song but his voice sounds so altered it takes the listener out of the song multiple times. The song also stretches to rhyme celebrate with defecate in a way that is supposed to sound scary but instead sounds juvenile. All of that said this is a perfect example of a song that grows on you.
Other songs on the album are good but I’m focusing on the stand out ones to me.
Finally, “Under the Graveyard” is the most brutal, haunting, honest examinations of drug addiction and depression I’ve ever heard.
Today I woke up and I hate myself
Death doesn’t answer when I cry for help
No high could save me from the depths of hell
I’ll drown my mind until I’m someone else
Now, this isn’t meant in any elite way. I’ve never done drugs, never been an addict. I missed that road somehow despite some statistics that would say I’m more likely. However, I have a history of depression that can last days, weeks, months, and all I know for sure is I just want someone to end that pain for me. As Ozzy goes on to say “my misery owns me now”.
It’s horrible to feel trapped inside a toxic mind. Without knowing how to fix it. Without knowing if it’s worth it to fix, because that pain will come back again one day. In a way, the best help is to build up a mental callus. That was hard, I got through it, I’m stronger than I was the first time, I can get through this one too.
One of the biggest losses of MTV no longer playing movies is that the opportunity for fans of different types of music to discover something new through short captivating movies. An emotional example of this is the video for “Under the Graveyard”. A dramatic retelling of Sharon saving Ozzy’s life.
I write every day. I record multiple times a week. I try to use my platforms to bring acceptance and meaning to creations that have been called “garbage” by others. I also know that I’m stronger with my wife than I ever was before she came into my life. Together I hope we can raise our son to be even stronger and a brighter light in the world. All of it as an Ordinary Man myself, just trying to leave some sort of legacy.
Many times I’ve lost control
They tried to kill my rock and roll
Just remember I’m still here for you
I don’t wanna say goodbye
When I do, you’ll be alright
After all, I did it all for you
(Thanks to my cousin Mike. Readers remember, I am always up for post suggestions.)