Buttkickin’ Halloween Songs: “Diary of a Madman” — Ozzy Osbourne (1981)

blgdiarymadmanVoices in the darkness
Scream away my mental health
Can I ask a question
To help me save me from myself?

Well it’s not like I’m not getting to Black Sabbath later… Oops. Spoiler alert.

The title track from Ozzy’s landmark 1981 album Diary of A Madman is arguably the finest track of his best album. The quality of the songwriting, the stronger production, and the evolution of the late great Randy Rhodes’s musicianship elevated the LP into the realm of rock and metal legend. And let’s be honest: the album cover alone was cool enough to send four generations of your matriarchal lineage shrieking for a buttload of Holy Water to come crashing down on your wicked heathen soul. Or something. My brother had the album and my parents just cocked their head and rolled their eyes. Good times.

Nonetheless, the album is a beauty and Diary of a Madman remains the epic closer of an already epic collection of tunes. The song is straightforward enough — a first-person ode to the slow but inexorable decay of the narrator’s sanity, as a malevolent spirit begins to take possession of his soul. Prototypical metal mythology? Without a doubt. But if anyone can deliver it exquisitely, it’s Ozzy. Combine that with Rhodes classical-infused fretwork, fractured time signatures, orchestral arrangements, and an overriding creep factor, and you have the perfect Halloween metal tune.

A sickened mind and spirit
The mirror tells me lies
Could I mistake myself for someone
Who lives behind my eyes?
Will he escape my soul
Or will he live in me?
Is he trying to get out
Or trying to enter me?

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