BY OLIVER KOGOD//
As someone who loves to connect music with the outside world, it was fun for me when the snowstorm hit D.C. this past week. Watching the snow fall, I immediately wondered what music I should put on to provide the soundtrack for the wintry moment. Of course, the music gods led me to the mighty Black Sabbath.
To give some background, “Snowblind” comes from the album Vol. 4 by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It was released back in 1972. You may have seen the album cover, which includes singer Ozzy Osbourne with his arms extended, on a metal head’s t-shirt. Now let’s get into the song.
Lyrically, Black Sabbath’s “Snowblind” relies on an important metaphor. Sadly, the band isn’t talking about the same kind of snow that I saw falling from the sky. It’s pretty obvious that bassist Geezer Butler had a different type of white powder in mind when we wrote the lyrics for the song. Unlike the studio recording, in live versions of the song (I recommend the version from 1998’s Reunion) Ozzy doesn’t keep quiet about the innuendo: he finishes up the verses by smoothly singing “COCAINE!” Although the song is really about the drug, the analogy of snow that is heard throughout the lyrics is still fun for a winter storm.
My friend Marcus, who guided me into getting into Black Sabbath and finding “Snowblind,” often describes a good song by saying “it slaps.” To get straight to the point, musically “Snowblind” slaps. After a hard hitting intro, the band transitions into a heavy groove that forces you to bang your head. The chorus really hits with the snow theme, “My eyes are blind, but I can see, the snowflakes glisten on the tree.” Ozzy’s vocals sound sleek and powerful, underpinned by Tony Iommi’s masterful guitar work (listen for his multiple solos on this track). While Iommi and Ozzy get most of the attention, it’s the rhythm section that really holds it down. Bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward keep the groove moving through the song.
My favorite part of the song comes in at about 3:25. Iommi leads this break with a galloping guitar riff and soon after the entire band is pushing hard with him. Check it out live in this video
from 1978: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8B4BdAs0h4. Ozzy’s got some serious energy and engages the crowd really funnily.
Yeah, of course, “Snowblind” is a sick song. I wouldn’t bother writing about a song if it wasn’t good. Most importantly, it’s a good song for the snow. Connecting music to the outside is always fun. Black Sabbath rules. Check it out and enjoy the cold weather.