How “Suicide Solution” By Ozzy Osbourne Got Misunderstood

How “Suicide Solution” By Ozzy Osbourne Got Misunderstood | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Ozzy Osbourne in an interview for Sirius XM - SiriusXM / Youtube

With the release of “Suicide Solution” on Ozzy Osbourne’s debut album, Blizzard of Ozz, in the UK in September 1980, and later in America, controversy was inevitable. The track bore an ominous title, fitting for the former Black Sabbath frontman known for his wild on and off-stage antics. The media’s spotlight on the song intensified following a tragic incident where a fan took his own life after reportedly listening to the track, cementing its reputation as a misunderstood anthem in the realm of dark metal music.

The Genesis and Message of “Suicide Solution”

Bob Daisley, who played a significant role in Osbourne’s solo career by contributing bass lines and lyrics across three initial solo albums (and two subsequent ones), penned the lyrics for “Suicide Solution.” The song emerged during a turbulent period in Osbourne’s life, freshly ousted from Black Sabbath due to his escalating substance abuse issues. It was during this low point that Sharon Levy, who later became Sharon Osbourne, took charge of his managerial affairs, steering him toward a solo career that would outshine his achievements with Sabbath throughout the 1980s.

The lyrics of “Suicide Solution” serve as a cautionary tale about the perils of alcoholism, a slow form of self-destruction. Contrary to the widespread misinterpretation of promoting satanic beliefs or self-harm, Daisley intended the song as a reflection on Osbourne’s struggles with addiction:

Wine is fine, but whiskey’s quicker
Suicide is slow with liquor
Take a bottle, drown your sorrows
Then it floods away tomorrows

These lines provide a nuanced take on substance abuse, projecting alcohol not as a solution but as a means to exacerbate personal despair. The song also delves into feelings of isolation and regret, captured succinctly in the verse:

Evil thoughts and evil doings
Cold, alone, you hang in ruins
Thought that you’d escape the reaper
You can’t escape the Master Keeper

 

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Understanding the Impact of “Suicide Solution”

“Suicide Solution” became a staple in Osbourne’s live performances, its legendary status affirmed despite its controversies. One notable legal challenge arose in 1985 when the parents of 19-year-old John McCollum, who took his life after listening to the song, sued Osbourne and CBS Records. The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, citing First Amendment rights. During the proceedings, Osbourne notably remarked that advocating suicide would be counterproductive, as it would diminish his fan base—highlighting another contentious issue of proper songwriting credit, which was later addressed.

Addressing misconceptions, Daisley clarified in an interview on his website:

“Ozzy has often said that he wrote ‘Suicide Solution’ about Bon Scott, AC/DC’s singer, but first and foremost Ozzy didn’t write it, I did. Bon Scott was a good friend of mine. I would be the first to say if it had been written about him. I wrote the lyrics as a warning of drinking yourself to death, inspired by Ozzy’s heavy drinking at the time and that the ‘solution’—as in ‘liquid’—is not the solution to the problem. I would like to add that in no way were the lyrics meant to encourage the act of suicide; on the contrary, they meant the opposite.”

This clarification shines a light on the purpose behind “Suicide Solution,” aiming to dispel the fog of misunderstanding surrounding it. Moreover, it underscores the vital distinction between the artist’s intentions and the audience’s interpretations, a recurrent theme in the discourse around heavy metal music. Heavy metal, as a genre, has often faced scrutiny for its dark imagery and lyrics, yet “Suicide Solution” exemplifies how its narratives can be misinterpreted, obscuring the deeper, more meaningful messages embedded within.

The legal controversies surrounding “Suicide Solution” and other heavy metal songs point to a broader societal struggle with interpreting artistic expression. In 1986, a similar lawsuit was brought against Judas Priest by the parents of two fans who committed suicide. Despite allegations of subliminal messaging in the band’s music, the court ruled in favor of Priest, acknowledging the ambiguity and subjectivity of interpretation.