As much as I love the rest of the record, this may be my favorite song on Paranoid. I don’t know that there’s ever been a better song written about the power and hopelessness of drug addiction.
It starts out with that dark and mysterious bass lick from Geezer Butler, and as always, Bill Ward’s jazzy beats lock in perfectly with it to create the mood. Enter Ozzy, moaning out the lyrics in a delivery that’s perfect for the subject matter of the song. To my ears, it’s bleak, even by Black Sabbath standards, then we get the punctuating explosion of sound at the end of each verse, like a mini-climax – perhaps the brief hit of the drug hitting the subject’s veins that soon returns to the low of the original bass and vocal.
The Sabbath signature tempo change comes next, as the lyrics turn in a different direction, more urgent, warning of the dangers of addiction. I’ve always particularly liked the galloping riff from Iommi that leads into the guitar solo, which itself is a bit off-kilter and suggests the chaos of a trip.
Finally, we drop back into that original, dark melody as we see the outcome of the lifestyle and the high price that the addict pays in the end.
It’s a pretty harrowing song and a powerful argument against heroin abuse. Perhaps a bit strange given the history of members of the band, that it didn’t give them pause on their roads to addiction.