Wishing Ozzy and his family all the best with his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis.
GETTING MORE TALE #810: So Tired
I don’t know what I expected the first time I saw Ozzy Osbourne on TV. All I knew of him was that he was supposedly a drug-crazed metal madman. What I saw on TV was a blonde guy in a cowboy hat. Certainly not how he had been described to me. Just an ordinary guy? I didn’t know any of his music yet, just the name and a little bit of the reputation.
I began learning a little bit more during one of my childhood basement VHS taping sessions in 1985. George came over with his tape collection and I recorded clip after clip of rock and metal from him. It was a feast! Imagine getting all the key early videos by Ozzy, Dio, Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath and more in one afternoon. All this new music! All these new artists! I only knew a few faces and names.
It was actually only Carmine Appice that I knew from Ozzy’s band. The distinguished looking drummer, with his jet black hair and cool-as-fuck moustache was prominent in the video for “Bark at the Moon”. I knew him from King Kobra. There was no mistaking Carmine.
I taped a few Ozzy videos from George that day. He only started making music videos in 1983 for Bark at the Moon. There was nothing to represent the Randy Rhoads years — “Crazy Train” wasn’t released until 1987. The videos I had collected to date were a live concert version of “Paranoid” from the Bark tour, “So Tired”, and “Bark at the Moon” itself.
“Paranoid” featured Jake E. Lee on guitar, but I certainly didn’t know his name. I wouldn’t have known it was a Black Sabbath song or anything else about it. I couldn’t tell what he was singing or shouting at the crowd. “Get your hands on it!” I thought I heard him shout. Hands on what? I assumed it was something that went over my head, but all this really proves is that it doesn’t matter what a rock star is yelling at an audience. They just have to sound cool yelling it. He could have been shouting “Eat Grapenuts!” and it still would have sounded cool. Sure Ozzy, I’ll have some Grapenuts. I also misheard him singing “I can’t find” as “Yeah yeah fight!” When you don’t know the words, your mind fills in the blanks.
Over the years, Ozzy has taken a lot of flak from religious circles for lyrics that promote suicide. There is no way I was getting “suicide” from that performance of that song. I wasn’t getting anything! Rock haters — you can’t have it both ways. You don’t get to say “You can’t understand the words” and “The lyrics cause drug abuse and suicide”. You can’t have both at the same time. All Ozzy caused in my household was turning up the volume knob on the TV set.
The most puzzling thing Ozzy had done to that point might be the single/video “So Tired”. Even to people well aware of Ozzy’s career, the video was more than odd. So imagine a kid like me in 1985 with no Black Sabbath or Ozzy albums. That music video was peculiar to say the least.
Playing multiple characters, Ozzy seems to occupy a Victorian village, where he performs at the local opera house. He’s also an old man, and there’s a guy with a decaying face, and another guy with one lopsided eye. In the 80s, you see, you had to have a guy with a lopsided eye. Black Sabbath had one in “Zero the Hero”. An orchestra covered in cobwebs accompanies Ozzy at the playhouse. Then Ozzy, garbed in black with sequins, shoos the ballet dancers off the stage. Oh look! There’s Abraham Lincoln in the balcony. Not for long!
The lopsided eye guy (a stage hand presumably) suddenly pulls a knife, cuts a rope, and drops a sandbag on Ozzy’s foot! Meanwhile, the stage manager (played by Ozzy) feeds Ozzy his lines in frustration. Then an Ozzy with a Hitler moustache emerges on a riser playing piano. Again, remember, Black Sabbath had a Hitlerstache guy in “Zero the Hero”! By the time Lincoln hit the floor, I was utterly baffled.
Couple this with the fact that the song is a lush, campy ballad with strings and piano. Not the kind of song I associated with the heavy metal madman. I didn’t know of his history with ballads like “Changes”, nor was I aware of his love for John Lennon. I thought “So Tired” had to be a joke! The only guitar is in the brief solo. Ozzy certainly couldn’t be doing this kind of music seriously. Could he?
“So Tired” is cheesy, but that doesn’t take away that it’s actually a pretty great ballad. The song (like the entire album) is credited solely to Ozzy. I think Bob Daisley probably wrote it with Ozzy, maybe even Don Airey was involved. There’s no way Ozzy wrote it alone.
The video though, that’s still to do this day one of the most outlandish things Ozzy’s ever committed to celuloid (and he had a reality TV show). Like an Ed Wood film, it stumbles far beyond being bad, instead becoming some sort of ugly but priceless treasure. I can’t stress this enough — at the time, Ozzy only had two official music videos. One was “Bark at the Moon” and the other was “So Tired”. We didn’t have much to judge Ozzy by, and it’s safe to say that “So Tired” threw us all for a loop!