Among other great things, this year is certainly the year of Black Sabbath. I will see them play live in Sydney on the 27th of April, and these living legends will be touring the rest of the world too. Their monster album, 13, comes out in June and early reports and reviews of it have been positive (doesn't really surprise me to be honest, it's Black F****** Sabbath). More immediately however, is their very first single from 13 titled God is Dead?, which actually comes out tomorrow! and you can bet I will grab it off Amazon digital store and listen the hell out of it. Then of course is another nice piece of news, Black Sabbath will be appearing on the season finale of CSI on May 15th, and on that episode we will hear the second single off titled End of the Beginning. I don't watch CSI, but I will certainly watch this episode!
I love Black Sabbath in all of its entirety, and all of its eras and lineups. The fan-base is divided into camps, but to me the Black Sabbath sound has always been distinct and unique regardless of the lineup or the style of music they played. My introduction to the band was with the album The Headless Cross, almost ten years ago now. The album holds a special place in my heart as it really changed my life in so many ways. The front-man during that era was the under-appreciated Tony Martin, and while he was never a big name star like Ozzy or the late great Dio, he still carried the band during the 90s with great passion. I will always be a fan of his contribution to the Black Sabbath legacy and I will always listen to the albums he was in. Naysayers be damned, Tony Martin is as much Black Sabbath as Ozzy Osbourne is.
If you read the history, Tony Martin joining Black Sabbath was almost pure chance, or I guess it was really destiny. The first album he did with the band was The Eternal Idol...well not entirely...this album really had a messy creation process that is worth looking up. The Eternal Idol is far from being my favourite Black Sabbath album, but it has a couple of really amazing gems, in particular the title track which is lyrically and musically as pure a Black Sabbath song you could imagine. The song I wanted to focus on in this post is Hard Life to Love.
I was never always big on this track, and never took much notice of it when I was getting into the band back then. Technically and musically it's hardly the band's most interesting effort, but the amazing thing about bands like Black Sabbath is that their music is built to last, and if it doesn't connect with you when you're say 15 years old, there's a good chance that it might suddenly hit close to home when you're 25! That's pretty much what happened today, I've heard this song so many times in my iPod playlist but today it felt like I had heard the song for the first time in my life.
I did always like the title of the song, it acually makes for a very nice expression. Even when I never paid much attention to the song itself, I did like the title very much. "It's a hard life to love" became an expression I started using from time to time, it was simple and it made sense. It had so much meaning in situations where I would say it to others or myself.
I suddenly find myself in love with the track, it's lyrically amazing and it hits perfectly close to home. Given the way things have been for me I found myself relating to it so much, something I could not do back in the day. Clocking in at 5 minutes, this is a song with a lot of interesting and meaningful messages, and like any great song it's kept subtle enough so that anyone can relate to it for different reasons.
For me personally the opening verse is pretty amazing:
Livin’ in the fast lane is easy
Till you run out of road
Friends will turn to strangers
When you’re out of control
A slip of the tongue when it’s done
Is often hard to see it through
How I personally interpret this part is that I think it talks about how certain people will live life constantly and relentlessly working towards something. They do this to give themselves purpose, or perhaps even to work away their personal life, such that they stop dealing with their emotions and become this machine that only exists to work towards an objective goal. Also doing whatever it takes to stay on the path that leads to the goal.
Living this way can be great when you have a clear goal in sight and a well defined path to run on, but it eventually ends and leaves behind a dark void. Living this way also makes you lose control of yourself and personal life, you neglect it and you neglect the people in your life, and before you know it the people closest to you become strangers. The last part is just simply saying words can do a lot of damage, a slip of a tongue and a spur of a moment can pretty much change the tide for better or for worse, even if intentions were pure and sincere.
The rest of the song deals with several other interesting themes, but I love the last part of the song, it almost provides a different perspective to the first part of the song:
Livin’ in the fast lane ain’t easy
When you run out of road
Friends will turn to strangers
When you’ve nowhere to go
Don’t give a damn when you’re lost
Cause you’ll die from it all
Pretty similar message here, except that it also seems to suggest that when you're lost and without goal, and you're simply floating away your existence, some of your friends will abandon you. When they see someone who is without a path and goal, they choose to abandon them for whatever reason. I think it means that some friends are only there for you if you're something meaningful in their eyes.
The last two lines are pretty heavy...basically saying no one really gives a damn about you in the end, should you give a damn about whether you have a path or not?
It's a hard life to love....