"Who needs to be cool? Life's amazing.": Ozzy Osbourne

After having finally gotten my fill of the new Bowie album, I transitioned into a Rush CD, then to the Killers, then to The Paper Route, and then, out of nowhere, I popped in Ozzy Osbourne's 2010 effort, Scream. Because, after all, it is now the Merry Metal Month of May.

I say "effort" with a little smugness. Most of it comes from having seen Ozzy on the tour for this album and being actually disappointed- the first time that's ever happened to me. Anybody who's talked with me about live acts knows how dissatisfied that show left me. He spent more time trying to rile up the audience than trying to entertain us, and this I could tell from even my nosebleed seat. He was audibly off-target too. I mean, I noticed. I know enough about art to understand that sometimes it's not until the last five minutes that everything comes together. I am patient enough to wait and see, try to connect and get into it, if I don't jive with the project right away. Not this time. "War Pigs" turned out pretty good, and "Shot in the Dark", I think it was, was not dismal. "Bark at the Moon" wallowed at the other end of the spectrum, where most of the rest of the show hung out.

Guys. He led his own encore chant from backstage. Seriously. Empty stage, mumble of crowd, and then his voice on the microphone: "Come on, everybody: Oz-ZY, oz-ZY..." And he wouldn't come back out til everyone was playing along.

To be fair, the band was tight. Slash was promoting a solo album at the time and he was awesome as an opener.

I felt bad about it. I wanted that show to be good. I sent all the positive vibes I could, which usually works when I'm not sure I'm tuning in to the musician's station just right. Not even the power of positive thinking could change that show into a great, or even a good, show for me.

So, I'm sorry, Ozzy. I once waited about six hours in line to get your signature in your autobiography. I was about your three thousandth signature that day, I think, and someone told you "This is the last book," and you looked up with a glimmer of hope on your face. Then you realized there were two hundred more people behind me, with vouchers to be signed because the physical copies of the books were sold out, the last one to me. And you said nothing. You looked down and kept on signing. I felt bad for you then, too, but in a different way. A full day of book-signing is no place for a mighty rock star. After all, I like you. I even slipped "Mama, I'm Coming Home" on a mix CD I made for my mom when I left for college, even though she'd banned you from the house. I taped a radio interview you did for Nights with Alice Cooper, once:

ALICE: So, you're not really the Antichrist, then.
OZZY: Me? I thought you were.
ALICE: Well, I figured it was either you or Bono.
OZZY: [laughs]
ALICE: If Bono becomes President of the World Bank, he's definitely the Antichrist.

Don't tell me there's no love here.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends really dug Ozzy & Black Sabbath. Ozzy was his Bowie. (Which also makes me feel sort of smug, since Bowie is Ozzy's Bowie, along with John Lennon, I am told.) This is the same music-loving friend who gave me Pink Floyd, and Johnny Cash, and Jim Croce, and Cream. It was back when we first met, at that same table in the back of Spanish class. Mid-semester, probably. We'd finished our stuff for the day and were goofing off as was our wont (he more conspicuously than prim freshman Sandra-Dee me), talking about music. He asked me if I liked metal. I told him (primly) that I hadn't much experience with it. He asked me if I liked Ozzy. I said again, I hadn't had much contact but I knew his reputation from the TV show.

With the air of a doctor prescribing something to a particularly sensitive patient, he pulled out his discman (this was before iPods, but he was one of the first to get one, BTW) and handed me his headphones. And he put on "Dreamer".

O my little brother, you never could quite get the hang of me, could you? I never did make it easy and I certainly never made it fair, but I told you I liked Judas Priest! You thought "Dreamer" was all I could handle? We're not friends anymore by any long shot or definition, but there are times when I rerun those memories in my mind like episodes of Firefly. There is such a dense concentration of change and growth and self-realization in those memories and others like them that it is hard to look upon them, even the painful ones, without appreciation and fondness. Wherever you are, I wish you well.

So, this week I'm revisiting Scream, burned for me by a former boss with whom music was the only thing I had in common. (Amazing what music can do for people who otherwise maybe wouldn't be very friendly.)

There are some really fun things about this album and there are some really forgettable things. I can listen to the first four tracks ad nauseam and totally leave the rest. You, however, don't have to leave the rest. You can just have the good stuff, and here it is, with the tragic Spotify exclusion of a cover of the BeeGee's "Stayin' Alive" featuring Dweezil Zappa (sold separately here.): Life's Amazing: Ozzy Osbourne

For Your Playlist: Side A
1. "Desire" from No More Tears
2. "Let It Die" from Scream
3. "All the Young Dudes" from Under Cover
4. "See You on the Other Side" from Ozzmosis
5. "Rock & Roll Rebel" from Bark at the Moon

For Your Playlist: Side B
6. "Centre of Eternity" from Bark at the Moon
7. "Fire in the Sky" from No Rest for the Wicked
8. "Breakin' All the Rules" from No Rest for the Wicked
9. "Dreamer" from Prince of Darkness

No, I never really did take to Black Sabbath, although I love their name.

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