Monday, May 17, 2010

Lonely Is The Word

Lonely Is The Word

It's a long way to nowhere
And I'm leaving very soon
On the way we pass so close
To the back side of the moon

Come join the traveller
If you've got nowhere to go
Hang your head and take my hand
It's the only road I know

Oh, lonely is the word

I've been higher than stardust
I've been seen upon the sun
I used to count in millions then
Now I only count in ones
Come join the traveller
If you've got nowhere to go
Hang your head and take my hand
It's the only road I know

Got to be the saddest sound I've ever heard
Yeah, lonely is the name
Maybe life's a losing game.

Ronnie James Dio (July 10, 1942 - May 16, 2010) holds a remarkable place in heavy metal and heavy rock history. When Ritchie Blackmore walked away from the extremely successful Deep Purple to found a solo project, as he felt his bandmates were taking a bad direction, he was doubly fortunate. Firstly he was able to recruit RJD to his band that would d├ębut with the album 'Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow' in 1975. It was phenomenally good, very influential and there were three things that really matter here:

  • Blackmore and Dio clicked, sharing similar ambition.
  • Blackmore could write heavy rock music, Dio could both write and sing the lyrics to go with it.
  • They were both phenomenal virtuoso guitarists, giving Rainbow something that Deep Purple never quite had.
Rainbow were to record three almost flawless albums with Dio, during the UK Punk period that was then making life very difficult for heavy rock/metal. That was not to be the end of Dio however for when Ozzy Osbourne quit the increasingly fossilized Black Sabbath the others quickly recruited him and the result was another remarkable album.
The Black Sabbath albums, 'Black Sabbath' and 'Paranoid' (both 1970) still stand the test of time but so does 'Heaven and Hell' (1980), which marked a return to favour for the band and another level of achievement.
Music and arrangement is credited to all four band members, and it is something of a departure from the previous albums, but all lyrics are credited to Dio - and in those it shows. Never before had Sabbath revealed something so credible, yet elegantly elegiac, as Lonely Is The Word. It is the last track on 'Heaven and Hell'.

More importantly, given his track record, and I feel that this issue is understated in importance as well as the second in which Blackmore was prescient; Dio was an American in a genre that until that point had been largely been dominated by either UK or German (sometimes co-operative such as UFO) heavy rock/metal. Had that not been the case then I rather doubt that the situation would be as it is now, on either side of the Atlantic.

We sailed across the air
Before we learned to fly
We thought that it could never end
We'd glide above the ground
Before we learned to run
Now it seems our world has come undone.

I can only try to imagine how much time I spent listening to music like this in my college years and now I don't regret it for a moment.

We can but mourn knowing
Heaven rocks tonight.

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