Paranoid at 50 – Meditation to Music

What to write? Thanks to a timely reminder I discovered that Black Sabbath’s second album, Paranoid, was released 50 years ago today.


What has this got to do with meditation?

Meditation is the art of being present.

Meditation is being non-judgmental.

Meditation is being focussed.

Music has the power to do all of these things.


only if you STOP!

Stop. Close your eyes, perhaps? And listen.

The challenge is to stay focussed. You may remember I have been practising, so I am getting pretty good at staying present and focussed. Yes, my mind will drift, but it heads through memories rather than distractive, destructive thoughts.

Keep a notepad and pen by you for quick note talking, get them out of your head. Now carry on.

Close you eyes again, deep breath in through your nose. Hold. Hold your breath, and out.

Good. Now, listen again.

The first, crushing, power chord of War Pigs is swiftly followed by air-raid sirens. A warning of what is to come? More faux-satanic Heavy Metal?

Not so much.

After 2 minutes it has already transformed into a funky rhtymn that makes your shoulders dance side-to-side.

It’s a heavy metal song, about the tyranny of war, and I am dancing? Just listen to Geezer Butler’s roaming bass-line during the guitar solo.

Paranoid is their only top 10 hit, reaching number 4 in 1971, i think?

Remember the PMRC? IN the 80’s they tried to have it banned for inciting youth suicide.

“I tell you to enjoy life,

I wish I could but its too late”

“en-joy”, not ‘end-your”.


It’s an okay song, an accessible entry to the Black Sabbath catalogue, but it doesn’t really grab me, not any more.

Planet Caravan though? That grabs me. I love my 70’s rock, and this is one of my all-time favourites.

A great track to chill out and fall asleep to. A true hippy dream. We are nothing more than passengers on this planet caravan “As we travel through the Universe”

Iron Man was the first Sabbath song I remember hearing, thinking it didn’t quite reflect the Ted Hughes story. Turns out that is because it is nothing to do with that (although it does have echoes). It is also nothing to do with Robert Downey Jr.

It was the first track on Sabbath’s Greatest Hits, which Mark gave me on a C90:

Side A. was Sabbath’s Greatest hits, which cut off halfway through Laguna Sunrise.

Side B. was Gary Moore, Run For Cover

Electric Funeral is a song about a nuclear holocaust. Lovely. It feels like one too.

Maybe this should have been CND’s clarion call? Nuclear disarmament could easily have happened before I was born then.

Hand of Doom is so not what non-metal-believers think. Just fall into that backbeat on the drum intro.

And this was 14 years before Born In The USA. Was Vietnam even over then? I don’t think so.. What a varied track, full of rhythm and timing changes. Listening now I wonder why this was not promoted to us as kids. It has so much more of an impact on me than Zammo and ”Just Say No”

Fairies Wear Boots. No, not homophobic. Yet another song about the dangers of drugs, and what a groove too.

My thought process as I started listening was that ‘Paranoid’ would teach me something, probably something that I have forgotten. But instead it is the realisation that if we don’t give ourselves time to think, time to process our surroundings, how can ever achieve anything of significance? If you don’t have the time is it more likely that you don’t have the appreciation? Once you start to meditate you understand how important it is. Even the act of listening to one song, or reading one poem, without any other distraction, that can be meditation. Just try it.

2 thoughts on “Paranoid at 50 – Meditation to Music”

  1. Meditation is the art of being present. Meditation is being non-judgmental. Meditation is being focussed.
    Being a bit of a pedant, I am not sure I agree with the above. I would say that “Mindfulness” is all of these things and meditation is a tool to help achieve.
    Good blogs!

    1. nothing wrong with pedantry Mary Rose. I guess it is open to one’s own interpretation. As I go through the Waking Up course I feel they are pretty much interchangeable. Thank you for your kind words.

Comments are closed.

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