The Meaning Behind (the Tender Ballad!) “So Tired” by Ozzy Osbourne

Can Ozzy Osbourne double up in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? The legendary frontman has already been enshrined for his work with the heavy metal standard-bearers Black Sabbath. Thanks to the 2024 nominations, he’ll also have a chance to get in as a solo artist. Which makes it a great time to look back at one of his most underrated tracks, the tender ballad “So Tired.”

That’s right: We said Ozzy Osbourne and “tender ballad” in the same paragraph. Let’s take a look back at this change of pace from a time when he was just getting rolling with the solo career that now has him once again on the verge of a HOF induction. And, as is often the case with Osbourne, there’s a little controversy involved.

Ozzy Rises Again
Counting Ozzy Osbourne out has time and again proven to be a mistake. Many folks did it when Osbourne was essentially canned from Black Sabbath, the band who had done as much to establish heavy metal as a cultural force as anyone. That came at the end of the ’70s, but Osbourne picked himself up for the new decade, threw together a new band that featured a fearsome guitarist in Randy Rhoads, and reinvented himself as the grinning jester prancing about in Hell.

Osbourne recorded a pair of albums with this new band under his own name and rose to the top of the heavy metal genre once again. However, in 1982, Rhoads was killed in a plane crash while the band was on tour in Florida. When he reemerged with a new album in 1983 entitled Bark at the Moon, Osbourne had slightly adjusted his sound to sand away some of the rougher metal edges with a bit more pop finesse.

Perhaps he was adapting to the changing tastes of ’80s audiences. Or maybe it was a realization that the loss of Rhoads meant that he wouldn’t be able to recapture what he had achieved with those previous two records. In any case, Bark at the Moon registered another smashing success for Osbourne at a time when many wondered if he’d be able to pull it off again.

Here’s Where It Gets Tricky …
At this point, we usually talk about the inspiration behind the song. But to do that, you have to know exactly who wrote it, and, unfortunately, that information is a bit murky for all the songs on Bark at the Moon, including “So Tired.” If you go by the credits, Osbourne wrote it. However, Jake E. Lee and Bob Daisley, the guitarist and bassist on the record, remember it differently.

Lee, who took over Rhoads’ spot in the band, recalls getting aced out of the writing credits after composing much of the album with Daisley. Daisley claims that he received a fee to play and write on the album as long as he wouldn’t be credited. In an interview on his website, Daisley has this to say about “So Tired” in specific:

“My title and lyrics. Something quite unusual for me to write—a love song,” he said. “The idea came from a Kinks’ song I heard on the radio one night driving back home from Ridge Farm. Their song was called ‘Tired of Waiting’ but that’s where the similarities end.”

Osbourne himself has never come out and specifically answered these claims, meaning that he’s still listed as the writer of the entirety of Bark at the Moon. While we dive into the meaning behind “So Tired,” you can form your own conclusion about its provenance.

The Meaning Behind “So Tired”
Whether he wrote it or not, Osbourne’s long-professed love of The Beatles likely had a lot to do with him recording a song like “So Tired.” It’s a big, sweeping ballad drenched with strings, something the Fab Four used to toss out there once or twice an album. (Those strings were arranged by Louis Clark, who helped do the same on many a classic hit by ELO.)

“So Tired” delivers the tale of someone whose patience has run out before his love has. His significant other is seeing someone else, leaving him unwilling to be a consolation prize: And half a love, that just isn’t enough. Be my tomorrow, now tomorrow’s today, Osbourne sings, an indication that this guy finally understands that the jig is up. The double standard wears him out: I stayed at home remaining true / While you do what you want to do.

While “So Tired” slightly dented the British charts, it was in many ways a dry run for other Osbourne ballads to come (such as “Mama, I’m Coming Home.”) In any case, it showed him right at home in the softer setting, emoting the lyrics with an emotional truthfulness that those who only knew Ozzy the hellraiser might never have expected.

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