As a lifelong fan of 50s and 60s rock (Thanks, Mom!), it’s not like I hadn’t heard songs about dying before. “Last Kiss” is a sad, unambiguous number about shuffling off this mortal coil. “The Boxer” is about breaking down and being drained. “Eleanor Rigby” may be the saddest song ever written.
These three also have something in common — they’re great songs. The song that made me aware of my own mortality is not a song I’m particularly impressed with, but it had an effect on me, all right.
I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom (not sure why), and I was listening to the radio. Like most kids at that time period, I had a small boom box with a tape deck. A cassette tape cost at least ten dollars new, and you never knew how many good songs you’d get from it. In junior high, before I had built up my tape library and then turned it into a CD library that I still hold onto, even though most of the songs are on my computer now, you had to listen to the radio.
When the announcer said the next song was from Ozzy Osbourne and Lita Ford, I got nervous. It was common knowledge, at that time, that Ozzy was Satan. There were a lot of worries that rock musicians could make you first Satanic and then dead. Now, those rockers get reality shows and nostalgic reunion tours.
Lyrically, the song was mostly forgettable to me. I’ve reviewed the lyrics since then and remain nonplussed.
Until Ozzy starts wailing, “Close your eyes!”
Clearly, he was singing about dying. After all, Lita Ford had just sang she would close her eyes forever. Alone in my room, I realized I would also someday close my eyes forever.
For years, I’ve assumed most people have a weird Sixth Sense type moment where they wonder if they’ve already died and just didn’t know it because they continued dreaming. I held that death delusion for a few moments longer than normal, as the song faded out. I was human. I would die.
I guess they can’t all be love songs.