Friday, December 26, 2008

Bipolar Badass

Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
Song: “Bark At The Moon”
Rating: B+

This Christmas, I was given Fargo Rock City, a memoir of sorts by Chuck Klosterman on heavy metal music. Friends of mine would rave about Klosterman - “Any self-anointed music journalist needs to be familiar with his works,” one said – and after the first three chapters, I can see why. He’s funny. For a writer, to be funny is to be really good. I’ve come to the conclusion that being funny might be my only shot at byline recognition, as you can tell by the attempts at humor that crowd this blog (see Bing Crosby below).

Klosterman is beyond funny though, as one can tell by his serious analysis of heavy metal. He makes the argument that there is quality artistic expression creeping underneath the sludge riffs of his beloved genre and he uses ole’ Ozzy as his shining example.

According to Klosterman’s book, Ozzy’s lyrics were pointedly focused on themes of weakness and despair. He writes: “(‘Bark At The Moon’) was about losing control of one’s personality… There is almost always an unintentional metaphor to Ozzy’s rock.”

Being the curious reader I am, I immediately Youtubed “Bark At The Moon” and found Ozzy playing mad scientist suprisingly charming. Maybe this is because my generation and I would never think of “Bark At The Moon” as anything other than the daunting final challenge of the first Guitar Hero game.

But watching this video, I almost wonder if Ozzy was actually attesting to a more classical struggle within: the battle of two personalities vying for the same brain. I mean, isn’t it obvious? We watch a frightened Ozzy stumble about in a hallway of eyeball-bleedingly bright rooms (presumably the rooms of his harried mind) and then quite suddenly, he’s being chased by his much hairer, almost frightening alter ego.

Werewolf Ozzy is very cool, barely cheesy. The only exception is that bit at the end, after a well-rested Ozzy looks back at his castle treatment center and there’s fucking Werewolf Ozzy looking back. Ozzy flashes it a smile and moves on, and then the camera does a DOUBLE TAKE ON WEREWOLF OZZY as if we hadn’t seen him four seconds earlier.

I was expecting (and would’ve preferred) a Thriller-esque surprise ending.

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