"I was a bad boy for a long time. But everybody would love to have been that mad guy for a weekend": the stories behind 11 classic Ozzy Osbourne songs, in Ozzy's own words

Ozzy in 1982
(Image credit: Eddie Sanderson/Getty Images)

Such is his towering legacy with Godfathers of Metal Black Sabbath, that it's sometimes easy to forget what an incredible amount of timeless anthems Ozzy Osbourne has to his name as a solo artist.

Here are the stories behind 11 of those songs, in Ozzy's own words.

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I Don’t Know (from Blizzard of Ozz, 1980)

“When people get successful they start becoming back street philosophers. I’m not that kind of a guy, I’m a dyslexic fucking rock ’n’ roller, so that song is me saying, Don’t ask me questions, I don’t know! People would come to me, like, ‘My cat keeps pissing on the lawn, what do you think I should do?’ Kill it! Don’t ask me, I don’t know! I don’t even know how much a pint is now!”

Crazy Train (from Blizzard of Ozz, 1980)

“[Blizzard of Ozz bassist] Bob Daisley did a lot of the lyrics on that. I probably did ‘I’m going off the rails like a crazy train’, and ‘Crazy, but that’s how it goes’, but then I’d get stuck and he’d help me. And Randy [Rhoads] was brilliant, he was the first guy in my life who was like, ‘Try doing this here, and this here…’ When we did Crazy Train I knew we had something good. It was a magical time.”

Suicide Solution (from Blizzard of Ozz, 1980)

“This was about me drinking myself to death, with a solution of alcohol. I was drinking a vast amount of booze back then. In 24 hours I’d get through four bottles of Hennessey cognac, and I’d wake up with my liver hanging out of my ass! It was fucking killing me.”

Mr. Crowley (from Blizzard of Ozz, 1980)

“I had that melody line originally for Black Sabbath. The reason I did it about Crowley was that at that time Jimmy Page had bought an [occult] bookshop and bought Aleister Crowley’s house and people in rock’n’roll were always talking about Crowley. I’d heard the name so many times, but I didn’t really know what he was about.”

Flying High Again (from Diary Of A Madman, 1981)

“It’s about me and my drugs years. Sharon [Osbourne] would be saying, ‘You’re doing too much of this, you’re fucking talking to yourself, you’re running around the streets naked!’ [Laughs] I was a bad boy for a long time. But everybody would love to have been that mad guy for a weekend. I didn’t give a fuck what anybody thought or said. But you can’t live that lifestyle forever.” 

Bark At The Moon (from Bark At The Moon, 1983)

“I had a drummer at the time called Tommy Aldridge and he was always saying, ‘Eat shit and bark at the moon!’ I thought that was a really interesting expression, but I couldn’t put Eat Shit And Bark At The Moon as a song title! Bob Daisley wrote the lyric, it was like a Halloween thing. It suited my image at the time.”

Shot In The Dark (from Shot In The Dark, 1986)

“This started as almost a disco song, from one of [former Ozzy bassist] Phil Soussan’s other bands, and me and [guitarist] Jake [E. Lee] transformed it into a metal thing: we completely stripped it down and rewrote the fucking thing. And then he said we stole it from him!”

No More Tears (from No More Tears, 1991)

“[Producer] John Purdell wrote the lyrics, and I came up with the melody line. No More Tears brought me into the ’90s. It wasn’t like I was going to start following Nirvana or Soundgarden. I remember in the ’80s, when everything was all glitzy, I said to Sharon, This is fucking great, we’ve set ourselves up here, and she said, ‘Wait until it turns to 1990, everything will fucking change.’ I said, No, it can’t, it’s too big. But sure enough, as soon as January 1st came, about 500,000 bands went down the toilet and never came back again.” 

Road To Nowhere (from No More Tears, 1991)

“That’s about me. It’s about how you get on the crest of a wave and you don’t know where you’re going: it could be a long journey on a surfboard, or you could fall off and get eaten by a shark. There’s a lot of AA in that song – ‘The wreckage of my past keeps haunting me’ – because they’re always going on about how you must clean up the wreckage of your past.” 

I Don’t Want To Change The World (from No More Tears, 1991)

“Every time I sing this song now I think of Lemmy. That was a Lemmy lyric, apart from, ‘I don‘t want to change the world, I don’t want the world to change me’. There’s one line, ‘Tell me I’m a sinner, I’ve got news for you. I spoke to God this morning and he don’t like you’. That’s Lemmy, tongue-in-cheek. If anybody was to say to me, ‘Who would you say was the [ultimate] metal band?’ it would be Motörhead. Have you seen the Lemmy documentary? It’s fucking great.”

Mama I’m Coming Home (from No More Tears, 1991)

“Everyone thinks this is about my mother, but it’s not: I call Sharon, Mama. Lemmy wrote this too. I have fond memories of Lemmy. He was interesting man. You’d go into his apartment and it was like walking into Steptoe’s fucking war museum, with his daggers and Nazi memorabilia. He was a very educated man. I had the line ‘Mama I’m coming home’, and I said, Can you do us a lyric? He said, ‘I’ll see what I can do.’ I said, How much time do you want? and he said, ‘Come back in three or four hours.’ I came back and he said, ‘I’ve got these, and if you don’t like those, I’ve got these. If you don’t like them, come back and I’ll do you some more’. I miss Lemmy.”

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.