Iron Man (song)
|Single by Black Sabbath|
|from the album Paranoid|
|Label||Warner Bros. (US/Canada)|
|Writer(s)||Iommi, Osbourne, Butler, Ward|
|Black Sabbath singles chronology|
"Iron Man" is a song by British heavy metal band Black Sabbath. It is taken from their second studio album Paranoid released in 1970. It was later included on their initial greatest hits compilation We Sold Our Soul for Rock 'n' Roll (1976), as well as all subsequent greatest hits compilations.
Writing and recording
The song was originally entitled "Iron Bloke", a title conceived by vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. Upon hearing the main guitar riff for the first time, Osbourne remarked that it sounded "like a big iron bloke walking about". The title was later changed to "Iron Man", with Geezer Butler writing the lyrics around the title.
Despite the song's title, it bears no connection to the Marvel Comics superhero character Iron Man, which was created and first appeared in Tales of Suspense #39, March 1963, seven years prior to the song's publication. However, after the popularity of the 2008 film Iron Man, this connection was made when the fictitious character of Iron Man mentions that he took inspiration from the song.
Butler wrote the lyrics as the story of a man who time travels into the future, and sees the apocalypse. In the process of returning to the present, he is turned into steel by a magnetic field. He is rendered mute, unable verbally to warn people of his time of the impending destruction. His attempts to communicate are ignored and mocked. This causes Iron Man to become angry, and have his revenge on mankind, causing the destruction seen in his vision. The vocal effects on Osbourne's opening line, "I am Iron Man", were achieved by having him sing from behind a metal fan.
This was the second Black Sabbath single in the US, but it was not released as a single in England. It got very little radio play in the US, but developed a cult following, which led to enough sales to give it a chart position.
Ozzy recorded a new version of this for the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black. Ozzy also recorded a version of this with Busta Rhymes in 1998 for Bustas's album Extinction Level Event (Final World Front). The track was renamed "This Means War". The version with Busta Rhymes was included on the Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black II. On his 2001 song "Get Me Through", Ozzy referenced this in the line, "I'm not the antichrist or the Iron Man".
In the film School of Rock, this is the first riff that Dewey (Jack Black) teaches the guitarist, Zack (Joey Gaydos, Jr.), along with "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple and "Highway to Hell" by AC/DC.
In 2007 Nissan used this in commercials for their pickup trucks.
The common misconceived tie between the song and the comic book character was spoofed in the 2008 film Iron Man. The film's novelization goes on to also state that the song is Tony Stark's favorite, hence why he picked the title to baptize his superhero alter-ego.
Awards and chart position
- In 2000, almost 30 years after the original studio version was released, a live version of the song won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance.
- The song won spot number 317 in Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
- The song was awarded the number 1 spot on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs in 2006.
- The song peaked at number 52 on The Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.
- The song returned to the charts in 2008 peaking at number 5 on Billboard's Hot Ringtones chart.
- Green Day covered part of the song live
- The Cardigans covered the song on their 1996 album First Band on the Moon.
- Cat Rapes Dog covered the song for the 1990 single "Fundamental"
- Electric Eel Shock from Japan recorded an up tempo version on their 2005 album Beat Me they also often open live shows with the intro.
- Giant Sand covered the song on their 2002 album Cover Magazine.
- The Bad Plus covered the song on their 2004 album Give.
- Sir Mix-a-Lot (backed by metal band Metal Church) covered the song with new lyrics on Mix-A-Lot's 1988 album Swass.
- NOFX recorded a cover of the song which was released years later on their 1992 compilation, Maximum Rocknroll.
- Irish band Therapy? covered the song for the 1994 Black Sabbath tribute album Nativity in Black. Vocals on the track were provided by Ozzy Osbourne, who sang on the original.
- Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids covered the song on their 1990 demos, albeit with the lyrics altered to make reference to the Son of Sam murders.
- Metallica covered the song when Black Sabbath was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006.
- Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder has, on occasion, such as at the Reading Festival 2007, played the song humorously on ukulele.
- Kanye West samples the song on his song "Hell of a Life" on his album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
- Four Tet performs an instrumental cover on the Black Sabbath covers album Everything Comes & Goes.
- William Shatner covers the song alongside Zakk Wylde (former Ozzy Osbourne guitarist) on his 2011 album Seeking Major Tom.
- Comedian Bob Rivers recorded a parody as the title track of his album I Am Santa Claus.
- Phish covered the song at their New Year's Eve show at Madison Square Garden on December 31, 2012. The cover was their final song of the encore and tour, with Page McConnell on vocals.
- Cancer Bats covered the song on the 2013 re-issue of their 2012 album Dead Set on Living. This "Deluxe" or "Bat Sabbath" version included 9 extra tracks, all being Black Sabbath covers.
- Tanzwut used the main riff as melody in their song "Eisenmann" on their self-titled debut album.
In other media
- In the Marvel Comics universe, it is implied through retcon that Tony Stark named his superhero identity Iron Man after the song, as he claims he was a fan of the band as a child. The song itself is featured in the 2008 Marvel Studios film Iron Man (closing credits), its initial trailer and the video game tie-in. In reference to the song, Stark wears a Black Sabbath t-shirt throughout the crossover film The Avengers.
- Sometimes plays in the main menu of Forza Motorsport
- It is featured in 1999 movie Detroit Rock City.
- It is featured in 2005 biographical movie Dogtown and Z-Boys.
- Live performance of it was featured in the program Beat-Club.
- A shorter but faster cover version is featured in the 2005 music video game Guitar Hero.
- It is featured in the episode "For Better or Verse" of American TV series Beavis and Butt-Head. Also appears as an air guitar chant in the episode "Plate Frisbee" and the short "Frog Baseball".
- It is featured in the episode "That Wrestling Show" of American television period sitcom That '70s Show.
- It is featured in the episode "Bills are Made to be Broken" of the American animated sitcom King of The Hill.
- It is featured in the episode "The Deer Hunters" of the American television series Gilmore Girls.
- It is featured in the episode "Anthology of Interest I" of American animated science fiction sitcom Futurama.
- Main character Dewey Finn (Jack Black) plays its guitar riff to Zack Mooneyham (Joey Gaydos, Jr.) in 2003 movie School of Rock, in order to teach him about rock music.
- An episode of Duckman ("Apocalypse Not") features the titular character singing the opening line while going on a self-indulgent rampage of destruction.
- It is featured in The Simpsons episode "The President Wore Pearls", sung by Nelson Muntz. Nelson sings "I am Iron Man! Do do do do do do do vote for me!".
- Wrestling tag team The Road Warriors used "Iron Man" as their entrance theme song while working in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
- In the online game Marvel Super Hero Squad Online one of Iron Man's abilities is to play a one second part of the song.
- "Tony Iommi & Geezer Butler Interview - May 1994". Black Sabbath Online.
- Classic Albums - Paranoid, by Isis Productions/Eagle Rock Entertainment
- "BLACK SABBATH - FAQ version 2.0". Black Sabbath Online.
- Totilo, Stephen (2005-12-14). "'Guitar Hero': The Video Game That Literally Rocks". MTV. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. 9 December 2004. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
- "VH1 40 Greatest Metal Songs", 1–4 May 2006, VH1 Channel, reported by VH1.com; last accessed 2008-07-15.
- Billboard Singles for Black Sabbath at AllMusic
- "Billboard song chart history-Black Sabbath". Retrieved February 14, 2009.
- Bush, John. "Review: First Band on the Moon". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- Collar, Matt. "Review: Give". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Iron Man" lyrics
- We are Iron Man! A lowbrow literary mystery., The Boston Globe
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics