March 19, 2011

Sound Influence: Black Sabbath - Paranoid

ParanoidWelcome to Sound Influence. This is a series of columns looking back on the albums that were instrumental in first making me a fan of music and second helped shape my listening tastes over the years. Many of the albums covered will be popular for one reason or another, but more than that they mean something to me. These are albums that have stories attached to them and are albums that are a big part of why I love music and will continue to love music. These are not so much reviews as they are my memories of my first exposure to them.

My early music memories are spotty at best. My father liked music, but he was never one to really introduce me to anything (same thing for sports and movies). So, whatever I got into I had to find on my own. This resulted in a bit of musical stunting, effectively leaving me behind while friends were getting into stuff. I did not get into music until rather late and I missed a lot of good stuff, not to mention it taking me a longer to find my musical identity. Over the years a number of albums have, and still do (some are still being discovered), exerted their influence on my tastes. One of those early albums was Black Sabbath's Paranoid.

I was in junior high when I inherited a stereo receiver, record player, and a nice pair of speakers. It was my first real stereo. I had a couple of records at the time, but my collection never really grew. I resorted to looking through the stacks my father had. There sure was a lot of stuff I had no interest in, but then I stumbled across Black Sabbath's Paranoid. It was the only Sabbath release in his collection and the cover was well worn. It quickly found its way down to my room where I eagerly, and carefully, placed it on the record player and put the needle into position.

This would be my first introduction to one of the father's of heavy metal. It was glorious. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before. It was heavy, doomy, gloomy, dark, and just really got me going. How could any young, budding rock and metal aficionado no immediately fall in love with it? It is hard to imagine anyone listening to this and not think they aren't listening to something special, much less what would become part of the blueprint for a genre.

Anyway, back on track, that may have been a little bit of an exaggeration, but the core of the argument holds true. I listened to this record a lot. In particular, I remember listening to "Electric Funeral" over and over as I would get ready for school in the morning. I am sure my parents thought it a bit odd that the song that got me ready for school was about nuclear war and its aftermath told in vivid detail. Actually, I am pretty sure they took the record away for a little while because of that. I guess they were afraid it would warp my fragile mind.

In any case, Black Sabbath has had a regular entry in my listening cycle for many years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This album helped me get a toehold in the metal world and for that I will be eternally grateful.

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