Lyric Analysis: Crazy Train

Posted: November 16, 2010 in Lyric Analysis

I’ve been trying to post at least once a week since I started this blog, and have been doing pretty well with that.  However, sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say (and I am saying it – John Cage).  I don’t claim to be an expert in things – in fact, the only thing that gives me any credibility is that I’ve figured out how to use a computer.  For me, blogging is catharsis – I like being able to tell the world what’s going on and maybe give a few ideas to others.  I sometimes find myself slipping into the trap of thinking I have to offer something profound, such as right now.  But in reality, I’m mostly just talking to myself in a public forum.

But instead of babbling about nothing (since I have no stories to tell or topics to cover), I’m going to instead use this post to do a lyric analysis.  I keep coming back to Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train lately, partly because one adult in the day program is a big fan (she also likes Debbie Gibson, go figure).  Yesterday, I had another client request the song, so I want to look at the lyrics.

I’m not a heavy metal fan.  Part of it is that I haven’t really been exposed to a lot.  Part of it is that the subject matter is not something I’m drawn to.  However, I can’t deny that there’s a certain level of musicianship there, and the lyrics can be pretty thought provoking.  I have the same mixed feelings about rap.

Here’s the first verse of Crazy Train.

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love
And forget how to hate
Mental wounds not healing
Life’s a bitter shame
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train

There’s kind of a hippie vibe going on here with the whole “make love not war” sentiment (I bet Ozzy has NEVER been referred to as a hippie before).  However, the predominant feeling is one of frustration and anger, particularly in the last few lines.  It’s tough to get rid of anger, and some wounds really cut deep, especially psychological ones.

I’ve listened to preachers
I’ve listened to fools
I’ve watched all the dropouts
Who make their own rules
One person conditioned to rule and control
The media sells it and you live the role
Mental wounds still screaming
Driving me insane
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train

This verse starts going off on the status quo and the conformity that is expected from society.  And again, there’s that frustration popping up.  Now the bridge.

I know that things are going wrong for me
You gotta listen to my words

We all have problems.  I think the singer here is acknowledging that, yes, things aren’t perfect in his own life, but does that make his point any less valid?  Sometimes all we want is for someone to listen to us.

Heirs of a cold war
That’s what we’ve become
Inheriting troubles, I’m mentally numb
Crazy, I just cannot bear
I’m living with something that just isn’t fair
Mental wounds not healing
Who and what’s to blame
I’m going off the rails on a crazy train

It’s a heavy metal protest song!  The point, however, is that problems are foisted upon us and we can’t always find the solutions.  The stress of it all is enough to drive anyone crazy.  The song closes out with the repeated idea that psychologically, we’re not getting any better.

Despite the overriding political themes, I think there are some good lessons for us as clinicians.  Our clients often have enough problems with us coming in and compounding their stress with unreasonable demands.  The lady who requested this song originally has TBI and can’t remember a lot of what she used to know.  I know that has to be frustrating for her, and I can imagine that this song reminds her that there are other people out there who can empathize.  When Ozzy sings about going off the rails on the crazy train, he’s talking about teetering on the edge of not being able to take it anymore.  That’s some place we all find ourselves at different points in our lives.  I guess that heavy metal, with its inherent aggressiveness, becomes a good outlet for those emotions.

That’s all I have to say.  Hopefully I’ll do more of these as time goes by.  If you have any comments about Crazy Train, any insights that I may have missed, let me know.  Thanks for reading!

-Jesse

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