I Don’t Know – Ozzy Osbourne – 1981

Yes.  I’m going to write about Ozzy now.

Three different people that found me on Facebook have said that one of the things that stands out in their memory of me 25 years ago was Ozzy Osbourne.  I was apparently an Ozzy freak when I was 11.  I do remember that shirt with the Blizzard of Oz album cover that I probably wore until it had holes in it.  And I have to admit that any of those songs from the first two solo albums with Randy Rhodes, Blizzard of Oz and Diary of a Madman, still do it for me.

“People look to me and say”

I wrote about this song in my online journal in 2002.  I knew that I was eventually going to have to write about Ozzy in this blog.  I figured I would wait until I was really busy.  Then I would find that journal and paste it here with some minor edits.  I remembered it as the same kind of writing I am doing here.  But it wasn’t.  Apparently my writing has improved dramatically.  That or I just hate everything I do after a couple years.

“is the end near, when is the final day.”

So in my writing about music, I have to touch on this particular subject about fathers.  There’s a kid I know who is 10 right now.  His father isn’t around much.  He loves Greenday.  He knows everything about Greenday.  Boys need their fathers at this age.  And unfortunately a lot of fathers, for whatever reason, aren’t around for them.  I can see that Billy Joe sort of fills this role for him.  It made me think about this particular age when my father wasn’t around.  I didn’t like him anyway.  But that’s what got me into the whole fantasy anyway.  I didn’t like him.  When my father didn’t fit the role, I fantasized.  And in a way this saved my life.  How often does an actual father give nothing but profound advice and wise words?

“What’s the future of mankind”

I would never have said, “Oh I think of Ozzy like my father.”  I just listened to his music like he was saying something to me.  There were two others that were just as big an influence.  John Lennon and Jimmy Page.  And I will write more about them another time.  But Ozzy fit this particular period of time.  And the records were coming out right as I was hitting several crises in my life that left me completely lost.  So while I was still in New Jersey, Ozzy was a huge part of my life.  And obviously I drove my friends nuts with his music.

“how do I know I got left behind.”

Then we moved to Texas.  Texas scared the hell out of me.  And Houston was still a part of Texas back then.  Now it’s a large urban metrolopolis.  You have to drive a long way from downtown Houston to get to Texas.  But in 1983.  Big trucks with gun racks in the rear windows.  Dumb rough necks with large belt buckles.  Drunk rednecks.  Cookie cutter suburbs.  Mexican food.  Everything was unfamiliar to me.  It was like moving to another country.

“Everyone goes through changes”

When we drove into Houston in 1983 in our Buick Regal with New Jersey plates, a pickup truck pulled up next to us on the freeway and rolled down the window.  A redneck leaned half his body out of the window while going 65 MPH and motioned for my mother to roll down her window.  When she did, he yelled, “You guys from New Jersey?”  My mother, “Yes we are.”  Redneck, “Well welcome to Texas.”  Mother, “Thank you.”  Redneck, “Now go home!  YEE HAW!!!”  Um…  This actually happened.

“looking to find the truth.”

As I have documented in several blog entries, my first year in Houston was miserable.  My brothers seemed to adapt easily.  I was too loud.  Too abrasive.  Too insecure.  Too afraid of this redneck backwater ass hicktown.  I was terrified of everything.  Then something Ozzy had done the year before in San Antonio changed my life.  I don’t know why it occurred to me in 1984, because I’m sure I knew about it when it happened.  I just don’t think the significance caught up with me until I had some context for it.  Or maybe I was just tired of being afraid and connected the incident with my desire to be done with my fear.

“Don’t look to me for answers”

Ozzy pissed on the Alamo!  Ozzy walked up to this shrine of Texas history.  The ultimate symbol of Texas pride.  Hiked up his skirt (he was wearing his wife’s dress for a photo shoot).  And pissed on the Alamo.  It was a revelation to me.  Like he did it on purpose, which he certainly did not.  He was way too drunk that morning (and I’m talking almost noon) to know that he was pissing on something significant.  My fear of everything Texas seemed irrelevant at that point.  I’m afraid of Texas culture, but Ozzy just went and pissed all over it.  Go Ozzy!

“don’t ask me – I don’t know.”

Yeah don’t ask Ozzy.  And make fun of Ozzy all you want.  I feel some genuine affection for him on his Alzheimerish drug addled aging reality shows.  Ozzy was there for me when a lot of adult men in my life were completely gone for whatever reason.  And for all of the caricature that is made of his accomplishments, Ozzy defined a genre of music.  He defied some of the more educated protest music of the 60’s with direct political protest that named the war machine for what it was – war pigs.  And while he seems completely lost and his music hasn’t been compelling to me in years, I still see him as a metaphor.  And there is no way that the power of his lyrics and his performances weren’t intentional.  Not with that much consistancy for so many years.

“Nobody ever told me I found out for myself.”

And all of the talk of family values on the right.  This is what it looks like when some families stay together.  Just a hodgepodge of affection, loyalty and dysfunction.  And for all of the criticism of his public figure as a father, he stayed there with them.  Which goes a long way.  Loyalty goes a long way with me.  Showing up no matter how screwed up you are.  Showing up and apologizing when you didn’t show up before.  My standards aren’t too high where this is concerned.  Show up high if you have to.  But just show up.  And Ozzy and Sharon figured out a way to make it work when they really didn’t have to.  And then they were still able to see enough humor in it to make fun of themselves.

“Ya gotta believe in foolish miracles.”

And all of that “Prince of Darkness” crap.  It’s such a great metaphor.  He started out criticizing people with these ranting lyrics about how they were evil.  And then because of his presentation and his lifestyle, people started associating him with the idea.  Then his career evolved into playing the evil metal guy.  It’s all so funny in a way.

“Don’t confuse win or lose – it’s up to you.”

And that’s what I learned from Ozzy.  No one is going to live my life for me.  There’s a whole world out there.  It’s up to you.

“Asking me who to follow.  Don’t ask me.  I don’t know.”

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