Dear Black Sabbath, please don’t let it be The End.
Ever since I first became enticed by your heavy, lyrical madness, I’ve wanted to tell each of you just how your music makes me feel. For some people, music may simply serve as an interest; a commodity that’s enjoyed but not taken too literal. My relationship with music, however, is extreme. It’s emotional and deep-rooted within my being. Why? Because it’s been there for me when no one else was.
More specifically, it was Black Sabbath that was there for me when the people I thought I could rely on hid cowardly in the shadows. Now here I am today, stronger than I’ve ever been, and yet still consumed entirely by the fury of your music. After making the trek to Tinley Park and Los Angeles on your last tour, finally seeing you live in the city where I was born and raised, standing beside my younger brother and all my KQRS friends, was nothing short of a dream come true. But for me, it can’t end there.
Your music keeps my mind wondering; creating, and having it all go away makes me feel distraught with sadness. With a sound as distinct as Sabbath, every player is key in making the magic come alive on stage, and I honestly feel unsatisfied knowing that a final reunion with drummer Bill Ward will never happen. In order to fully transcribe the emotions I have wrapped around your music, I’ve decided to pen them out singly here for each of you. In your very own words from “A National Acrobat” — I want you to listen! I’m trying to get through!
There’s no one I’d rather sing to more. Your songs, right at you. I don’t know what thoughts go through your head when you sing them, but I feel they are just as strong as mine. I can hear your mind scream “LISTEN TO ME F***ING SING” without you saying anything at all — though you so often demand that very thing on stage. I would too, if I had the insanity of Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler threading along the rhythms built in my head.
You have an energy that makes me smile uncontrollably, and the way you move to the music on stage makes me so damn happy. For instance, I love watching you headbang. It’s so much more poetic and in line with the beat of the music than my style is. I tend to get so wild that sometimes it becomes hazardous to those around me. I just can’t help but react that way to your songs. They send my flying out of my mind, free from all inhibitions.
The very best part about seeing you live in concert is that we, the audience, can’t just sit there and do nothing. At every Black Sabbath concert I’ve been to, you’ve stolen our attention in the form of an aerobic power hour — screaming at us to get our hands up, wave them side to side, jump up and down and to go absolutely crazy. Everyone is involved, whether they like it or not. This has become a ritual of sorts for me; my own personal therapy. Thank you for always putting your entire self into your music, and for inspiring everyone in your presence with your fearlessness.
You were there through it all. How it must have been looking at it through your eyes. Though Sabbath has endured a wide variety of lineups in its lifetime, your constant presence has made its signature sound stand still. Your dedication and attentiveness of the music’s true meaning and purpose has held the band together all these years, and I have to believe that’s the reason why your fan base is continuously growing. If every musician had that kind of relationship with their project, the music world would be a much honorable place.
The most exciting moment of a Black Sabbath concert for me is when I hear that first roar of your guitar behind the curtain. You are much more subtle with your demand for recognition than Ozzy is, but your guitar sure asks for it. Your talent, along with your powerful, confident stature is insanely alluring, and I dig how you always make eye contact with the audience individually. It makes us feel appreciated and included in the production.
Just about every guitar moves me in some way or another, but there’s something about the way you play that turns me into a complete lunatic. Your spell-casting riffs elevate me to an ecstatic state; something way beyond my control. Though no one person is entirely responsible for Sabbath’s sound, I’m confident in saying that those deep toned riffs serve as its foundation. You are no doubt the glue that holds everything together, and I thank you for everything you’ve put into the band.
Watching you play bass is impossible for me to comprehend. It’s intimidating and sexy as hell. They say seeing is believing, but even when I was physically watching you play, I was overcome with disbelief. I couldn’t even keep my focus because of how fast your fingers were moving! I wish I could have seen you play live in action when you first started out, though I seem to believe you were just as you are now.
Although the bass can sometimes be overshadowed in heavy rock and roll music; drowned out by uneven melodic proportions, you tend to dominate each song you grace. Finally seeing you play “Hand of Doom” live, a song that has always hit me with an explosion of emotions, was an incomparable experience. The first time I heard it, I was vindictively attached to its flow: slow to fast, quiet to loud, all in an instant and all strung together most distinctly by your bass line. You are indeed the conductor of this song, as it is you who keeps every measure and lyric in balance.
Your writing ability is extremely impressive. For you to be able to transform the creative, dark thoughts that were locked deep inside your brain into catchy, relatable lyrics is not an easy thing to do. No band on the face of this earth has lyrics like Black Sabbath, and we have you to applaud for that.
You created the thunderous thump that runs strong though each and every Sabbath song. You have an orchestral way about your style, which makes for a very powerful and elite sound. Your technique is an art form that will be preserved in a time capsule full of albums and live footage, forever wowing generations to come.
More than anything, I respect your deep love of creating music — using it as therapy to transcribe your emotions. I’ve enjoyed watching you bring your ‘Absence of Corners’ art collection to life. It’s an unique way to forward your creativity directly from the drum to the canvas. I feel like I can relate to this exercise, because I often listen to music while I write to help better communicate my own feelings. The two outlets are one in the same.
Black Sabbath, as it is now, is definitely missing your intensity on stage. It’s an empty void that can never be filled, and the hardest part about it is, we as fans don’t fully understand why you’re not a part of it all. I wonder how you feel about all this; if you’re sad or if you’ve made peace with the situation. You are so much of what makes this band, and I know I’m not the only die hard fan who feels this way.
As I sit here reflecting on my Black Sabbath concert experience at the Target Center, I’m realizing that there’s something much deeper to be said about the band’s recent disconnect. Relationships are all we have. All that matters in life are the connections we have with people. I keep telling myself there must be a reasonable excuse for Bill Ward’s absence, but from the outside looking in, it all just looks like a senseless squabble; something that was really never explained or confronted from either side.
If I can address my feelings about this generally, I know that people change and relationships don’t always last forever, especially in the music business, but my point is this: if you choose to be a famous musician, you should have to work for those royalties. If your band decides to close out your entire career with the very songs you built your legacy on, you should try your hardest to make the original lineup stand strong in the end, and if you absolutely can’t, be straight up with your fans as to why. And if you can’t do that, please don’t charge a ridiculous amount of money for tickets. It’s not fair for us to cash out the big bucks for an unoriginal experience.
I wish there could be some type of closure; a kickass finale with Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler and Bill Ward standing together. Not just for the fans, but to honor the music; how everything started. If there’s one thing I’ve realized going to concerts, it’s that I’m definitely not alone in this thought process. Black Sabbath concerts have a real, communal feeling because they attract a very solid fan base: a super group of dedicated people who understand each other. It’s therapeutic being around people who get me — what I like, what I can’t stand and the sounds that make me completely lose my mind. It’s not about simply enjoying the same type of music. When it’s been deemed The End, it’s much deeper than that.