Can I Play with Madness

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"Can I Play with Madness"
Single by Iron Maiden
from the album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
  • "Black Bart Blues"
  • "Massacre"
Released20 March 1988
GenreHeavy metal
Producer(s)Martin Birch
Iron Maiden singles chronology
"Stranger in a Strange Land"
"Can I Play with Madness"
"The Evil That Men Do"

"Can I Play with Madness" is a song by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. The song is the sixteenth single released by the band. Released in 1988, it was the first single from their seventh studio album, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988), and hit number 3 in the UK charts. The song is about a young man who wants to learn the future from an old prophet with a crystal ball. The young man thinks he is going mad and seeks the old prophet to help him cope with his visions/nightmares. The prophet's advice is ignored by the young man and they become angry with each other. The song was originally a ballad named "On the Wings of Eagles", written by Adrian Smith.

The song's guitar solo is played by Adrian Smith.

Music video[edit]

The video of the song was set at Tintern Abbey and Chislehurst Caves, and features Graham Chapman; this would be one of his last appearances on television before his death in October 1989 of cancer. In the video, Chapman plays an irritable art instructor who criticizes a young student for including Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie in his sketch of the abbey ruins. The teacher then falls down a hole in the ground, discovers an underground vault and finally encounters an animated version of Eddie, who leers at him from inside a refrigerator. The band appears on a TV screen showing footage from "The Number of the Beast" video and the Live After Death concert film. Adrian Smith is shown playing left-handed, suggesting a reversed image.

Track listings[edit]

7" single[edit]

  • Australia: EMI 2071
  • Canada: Capitol B-44154
  • EEC: EMI 006 20 2459 7
  • France: EMI 2024597
  • Ireland: EMI EM 49
  • Italy: EMI 2024597
  • Spain: EMI 006 20 2459 7
  • UK: EMI EM 49, with black, white or silver labels, copies marked with a red sticker included a free transfer.
  • USA: Capitol P-B-44154 (Promo), Capitol B-44154

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" (Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris) – 3:31
  2. "Black Bart Blues" (Harris, Dickinson) – 6:39

  • Japan: EMI PRP-1278 (Promo)

  1. "Can I Play with Madness"
  2. "Prowler '88"

  • Mexico: EMI SEC-550 (Promo)

  1. "Can I Play with Madness"
  2. "The Evil That Men Do"

12" Maxi Single[edit]

  • Argentina: EMI 6075
  • Australia: EMI ED 341
  • France: EMI K 060 20 2460 6
  • Greece: EMI 052 2024606
  • EEC: EMI 20 2460 6
  • Italy: EMI 14 2024606
  • Portugal: EMI 20 2460 6
  • Spain: EMI 052 20 2460 6
  • UK: EMI 12EM 49, with black or white labels

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" – 3:30
  2. "Black Bart Blues" – 6:41
  3. "Massacre" (Phil Lynott, Scott Gorham, Brian Downey) – 2:54

Shaped picture disc[edit]

  • UK: EMI EMP 49
  • USA: Capitol V-15375

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" – 3:30
  2. "Black Bart Blues" – 6:41
  3. "Massacre" – 2:54

3" CD Single[edit]

  • Japan: EMI XP10-2009

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" – 3:30
  2. "Black Bart Blues" – 6:41

CD Single[edit]

  • UK: EMI CDEM 49
  • USA: Capitol B-44154

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" – 3:35
  2. "Black Bart Blues" – 6:40
  3. "Massacre" – 2:56

Cassette Single[edit]

  • Argentina: EMI 16075 "Puedo Jugar con la Locura"

  1. "Can I Play with Madness" – 3:30
  2. "Black Bart Blues" – 6:41
  3. "Massacre" – 2:54

Cassette Single[edit]

  • USA: Capitol 4XPRO-79325 (Promo)

  1. "Can I Play With Madness" (Looped 3x)

"Black Bart Blues" is about the suit of armour that rode in the back lounge of Iron Maiden's tour buses (named Black Bart). Bruce Dickinson tells that he, his bandmates and their tour manager were driving in a Ford Thunderbird through Florida in 1983, when they passed a gas station with three suits of armour standing outside. So Bruce stopped the car and went to buy one of the three suits of armour that were on sale. The song's lyrics detail a rather infamous story in which a girl stumbled onto the band's tour bus and struck a deal with one of the band members that she'd give them oral sex in exchange for alcohol.

"Massacre" is a cover of the Thin Lizzy song that comes from their Johnny the Fox album.

Other uses[edit]

The song was used by Sony in advertisements for their line of HD-compatible television sets and DVD players. It was also used by Sony in the UK during the bumpers for their sponsorship of ITV's coverage of the 2008 Formula One season, until it got replaced by Def Leppard's "Rocket" after 4 rounds of the season.

The song also featured in the UK version of Now That's What I Call Music 12 in 1988.

A live version of this (the one from the DVD as performed in Mexico) was used as background music for the TV trailer of the Flight 666 movie.


Production credits are adapted from the 7 inch vinyl cover.[1]


Chart performance[edit]

Single Chart (1988) Peak
"Can I Play with Madness" Dutch Singles Chart 6[2] Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
German Singles Chart 23[3]
Irish Singles Chart 3[4]
Norwegian Singles Chart 4[5]
Swedish Singles Chart 12[6]
Swiss Singles Chart 23[7]
UK Singles Chart 3[8]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"Can I Play with Madness / The Evil That Men Do" UK Albums Chart[note 1] 10[9]


  1. ^ Re-release of all four singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.


  1. ^ "Can I Play with Madness" 7 Inch Single (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 20 March 1988.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ "Iron Maiden - 'Can I Play with Madness'". MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Iron Maiden Single-Chartverfolgung". Media Control Charts (in German). Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Irish singles archive". IRMA. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  5. ^ "Iron Maiden - 'Can I Play with Madness'". VG-lista. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  6. ^ "Iron Maiden - 'Can I Play with Madness'". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  7. ^ "Iron Maiden - 'Can I Play with Madness'". Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 2 April 1988". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  9. ^ "Top 40 Official Albums Chart UK Archive 21 April 1990". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 October 2011.

External links[edit]