Perhaps one of the most underrated songs in Rock 'n Roll history, Diary of a Madman is a moving, epic song on the Ozzy Osbourne album of the same name. It features Randy Rhodes' superb guitar work and blends his love of classical guitar (not classic rock) and the high pitch squeels of his brand of heavy metal. The main riff, which is based on a warm up excercise for guitar players, often switches from the lighter sound of an acoustic guitar to the crunch of Rhodes' oft distorted Flying V.
Lyrically, Diary, as it's casually shortened to, is nothing out of the ordinary for the Ozzman. The subject matter is in vein with the rest of Ozzy's work. He assumes the role of of a person with metal illness. He sings of hearing voices and not being able to recognize himself in the second verse.
A sickened mind and spirit,
The mirror tells me lies.
Could I mistake myself for someone
Who lives behind my eyes?
Will he escape my soul?
Or will he live in me?
Is he tryin' to get out?
Or tryin' to enter me?
Throughout the song Ozzy begs for two things, refuge from these mental troubles or a cure. He seems to feel that he'll get neither. While he mentions manic depression, it seems that his troubles stem from delusions, multiple personality disorder, or one hell of a bad acid trip. The repetition of the line, "Sanity now is beyond me, there's no choice," reinforces his desperation. But what is his choice? There's a lot to this song that seems to be going on indirectly in the background. I suppose with one suffering this kind of paranoid dementia it would be hard to gather the whole image of what was going on in their head. But Ozzy doesn't seem to allude to anything except for possesion by an evil spirit and not being able to grasp the reality around him.
The music on this track fits in well with Ozzy's style and the work of his previous band, Black Sabbath. While one requires better musical chops to play the licks that adorn this song, it mimics Sabbath excellent use of lighter, softer tones and darker, heavier tones. The main riff fluctuates throughout the song, switching between the acoustic and the distorted electric, building and building euntil it culminates with a choir backing the melody, sounding a bit like Carl Orff's O Fortuna. As with most metal, the bass work, which isn't that special because Ozzy isn't paired with Robert Trujillo yet, is pretty simple, and kept underneath Randy's superb guitar work.
All in all, this song rocks! But what did you expect? Classic Ozzy, classic Randy, this song makes you want to toss up your hands and rock out. More metal than your Mom's kettle? Nah, it's not at that point yet, but combined with tracks like Flying High Again, Over The Mountain, You Can't Kill Rock and Roll and Believer, it makes for an excellent end to a good Ozzy album.
Diary of a Madman is track 8 on the Album of the same name. It is written by atleast O. Osbourne and R. Rhodes. I do not know who else would have a hand in writing this song, nor do I know the other two bandmembers' names. IF anyone has this info, please let me know. I can't find my copy of the CD. The center justified text is lyrics taken from the song. All links have been added by me and are not part of the origional. Thank you for not suing.