Black Sabbath and the Sick Bed

by Bill Brenner on June 12, 2013

Wherein the author stays still and rocks out.

Only a week into the new job, I got blasted with the stomach bug from Hell. It started coming on Monday night and kept me up all night and in bed all day Tuesday. Those who know me will tell you I get up before 5 a.m. and am usually working by 6. To spend a whole day in bed is unthinkable.

Yet that’s what I did. The bed and then the couch. And I had the company of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler, three of the four original members of Black Sabbath.

Mood music:

They just released their first album together since 1978. The whole thing is available for free on Spotify, so I figured why not? I wasn’t going to be able to do anything else.

Wow. They really nailed it. Made being sick a little less frustrating. That’s what music does for me, helps me cope with life’s unpleasantries.

When I listen to a new album from an old band, I always start thinking about the musicians’ back stories. Ozzy’s battles with drugs and booze are legendary at this point, and Iommi just spent a year fighting cancer. I recently read a Guitar World interview with him on the subject. His diagnosis came after he found a lump in his groin. The timing was typical: He said he had been having one of the best years of his life, with Sabbath gearing up to make a new album. Treatment was hard, but he kept going. He put his pain into riffs for the new album, and let me tell you, those riffs are ferocious.

People don’t always think of this particular power of music: The musician goes through illness and other adversity and uses the songwriting process as therapy. The music then gets listened to by a guy thousands of miles away whose stuck in bed for the day.

It’s a poetic cause and effect.

As I write this I’m sitting up in a chair. Not yet fully over the bug, but the music has given me a nice shot of energy and allowed me to get something useful done.

In fact, I’m going to go play my guitar. I can’t riff like Iommi can, but it’ll feel good all the same.

Black Sabbath 13

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