Iron Man (song)
|Single by Black Sabbath|
|from the album Paranoid|
|Released||September 18, 1970|
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 title of the song was conceived by Ozzy Osbourne. Geezer Butler took to writing the lyrics around the title. The song was originally entitled "Iron Bloke". 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".
Despite the song's title, it bears no connection to the Marvel superhero character Iron Man, which was created and first appeared in Tales of Suspense # 39 March 1963 (though it has become associated with the character due to this misconception, and was used in the 2008 film Iron Man based on the Marvel character). 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.
A new version was included on the 2000 "Reunion" album. It won the Grammy that year for Best Metal Performance.
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. Pro wrestling tag team The Road Warriors used this song as their entrance theme in the early-mid 80's.
The song was featured in the 2008 film based on the Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man. The film's novelization goes so far as to 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.
- Busta Rhymes used the song on his 1998 album, E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front, as the backing for the song "This Means War", keeping the original chorus. Ozzy Osbourne is featured as a guest vocalist. This song is also featured on the second Nativity in Black tribute album.
- 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 introduced in 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.
- Opium Jukebox covered this song on their 2011 album Bhangra Bloody Bhangra - A Tribute To Black Sabbath. 
- Detox Junky sampled the song on a "retelling" of the Iron Man story, in a song also titled Iron Man.
- Sroeng Santi recorded a Thai language version entitled "Kuen Kuen Lueng Lueng"
- Phish covered the song at their New Years Eve show at Madison Square Garden on December 31st, 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 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 both the 2008 movie Iron Man (closing credits) and the video game tie-in. In reference to the song, Stark wears a Black Sabbath t-shirt in the crossover film The Avengers.
- 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.
- Shorter, but faster cover version is featured in 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".
- Instrumental sections of it are featured in the television commercials for the 2008 movie Iron Man as well as the beginning of the credits of the film.
- It is featured in the episode "That Wrestling Show" of American television period sitcom That '70s Show.
- 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 plays its guitar riff to the other character Zack Mooneyham in 2003 movie School of Rock.
- 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 1 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.