"Paranoid" is a song by the British heavy metal band Black Sabbath, featured on their second album Paranoid (1970). 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.[1] The song also topped the German Singles Chart. The song was written in the key of E Minor.

About[edit source | editbeta]Edit

'Paranoid' was the first Black Sabbath single release, coming six months after their debut album was released. Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler (from Guitar World magazine, March 2004):

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.[3]

The song focuses on a paranoid man and the theme of paranoia, with the driving guitar and bass creating a nervous energy to go along with Butler's lyrics. Paranoid was also used as the name of the album, and somewhat unusually, the word paranoid is never mentioned in the lyrics. Originally the band had wanted to call the album "War Pigs" after the song of the same name, but the record company persuaded them to use Paranoid instead because it was less offensive. The album cover was a literal interpretation of a "War Pig"; it showed a pig with a sword and shield.[4]

The Wizard" a song from their first album, was used as the B-side of the single. The band waited 2 years before releasing their second single "Iron Man", because they did not want to become a "singles band", with kids coming to their show just to hear their hits. This also ensured that fans would buy the albums instead of individual singles.

In his book Iron Man: My Journey through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath, Tony Iommi stated he and Ozzy probably had no idea what the word "paranoid" even meant at that time. They left the lyrics to bassist Geezer Butler, whom they considered "the intelligent one". The band also famously performed the song on Top of the Pops in 1970. In 2002 Ozzy, Tony Iommi, Phil Collins, and Pino Palladino (of The Who) played this song in Buckingham Palace during the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

Legacy[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"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 left the band in 1979 to pursue a solo career, 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 line-up since the original Blizzard of Ozz in 1980. Popular live versions featuring various guitarists including Randy RhoadsBrad GillisJake E. Lee and Zakk Wylde were all recorded and later released.

It was ranked No. 34 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs.[5] 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[6] and called the song, "a two-minute blast of protopunk".[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] The song was used in the Sega Mega Drive game Rock n' Roll Racing in 1993.

In Finland, "Paranoid" has the same status as Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" in the United States as a song the audience finds great humour to request during a concert. So regardless of the band or the style of music they're playing "Soittakaa Paranoid!" ("Play Paranoid!") can usually be heard at least once during any gig.[14][15]

Accolades[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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 Netherlands "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
Rolling Stone United States "500 Greatest Songs of All Time"[21] 2004 250
Q United Kingdom "1010 Songs You Must Own!"[22] 2004 *
Q United Kingdom "100 Greatest Songs of All Time"[23] 2006 100
VH1 United States "40 Greatest Metal Songs"[24] 2006 34
VH1 United States "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"[25] 2008 4

(*) designates unordered lists.

Covers[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Cover versions of "Paranoid" were performed by the following artists:

Track listing[edit source | editbeta]Edit

7" single (Vertigo 6059 010)[32]
  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"[I] – 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[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Chart (1970) Peak position
Australian Go-Set National Top 60[33] 18
Austrian Singles Chart[34] 3
German Singles Chart[35] 1
Irish Singles Chart[36] 12
Italian Singles Chart[37] 9
Netherlands Singles Chart[34] 2
Norwegian Singles Chart[34] 6
South African Springbok Radio Top 20[38] 3
Swiss Singles Chart[34] 2
UK Singles Chart[39] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[40] 61
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[41] 79
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