As is often the case, it was one of Black Sabbath’s shortest and simplest songs that gave them their biggest hit.
“Paranoid” reached the Top 10 in the UK charts, the only Sabbath song to do so, and according to Bill Ward, it was a tune knocked out in less than half an hour to fill the album. Despite its last-minute nature, the song got traction on the charts, and before the record was released, the name of the album had been changed from War Pigs to Paranoid.
Unlike the album’s first track, this one is driven almost entirely by the rhythm section of Ward and Geezer Butler. Tony Iommi’s three-chord main riff is solid, but without that driving rhythm, isn’t one of his most memorable. Butler even got most of the flourishes on the song.
Clocking in at just over 2 ½ minutes, it was the shortest and probably simplest song that Sabbath fans had heard to that point, and a stark contrast to the near 8-minute movements “War Pigs,” which precedes it.
Even the staunchest hater of all things popular, though, couldn’t say it’s not a great song – short, simple and punchy.
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