Vicious cults within the flower

Listening to the Black Box forces me to re-learn a number of things. First: no matter what you might think of Black Sabbath, man, they really knew how to start a song. The lyrics (mostly by Geezer Butler), in particular, were just weird and evocative enough to yank you into their direction. How can you resist songs that open with lines like:

I am the world that hides the universal secret of all time.
Destruction of the empty spaces is my one and only crime

or

Sorcerers of madness
Selling me their time

or

Revolution in their minds – the children start to march
Against the world in which they have to live

or

You’re searching for your mind don’t know where to start
can’t find the key to fit the lock on your heart

or

My name it means nothing
my fortune is less

or

Take me through the centuries to supersonic years
Electrifying enemy is drowning in his tears

or

Reflex in the sky
Warn you you’re gonna die
Storm coming, you’d better hide
From the atomic tide

The second thing I have to re-learn: I’ve been mishearing a ton of these lyrics for years. The Black Box comes with a book containing lyrics, gone over by Geezer, so these are probably as correct as they get. But a lot of them don’t match what’s been in my head. (This is a pity, because I like most of mine better.) Some examples:

In “Behind the Wall of Sleep”, I always heard:
Vicious cults within the flower / Deadly battles with strange power
The actual lyric is:
Visions cupped within a flower / Deadly petals with strange power

In “Snowblind”, I always heard:
Feeling happy in my pain / Icy movement in my brain
The actual lyric is:
Feeling happy in my pain / Icicles within my brain

In “Electric Funeral”, I always heard:
Burning global war machines fire / Like electric funeral pyre
The actual lyric is:
Burning globe of obscene fire / Like electric funeral pyre

In “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath”, I always heard:
You’ve seen right through these stunted eyes
The actual lyric is:
You’ve seen right through distorted lies

In “Megalomania”, I always heard:
I really think it’s schizophrenia that’s messing me up / I’ve singed my soul in the fires of hell
The actual lyric is:
I’m really digging schizophrenia, the best of the earth / I’ve chase my soul in the fires of hell

In one of my favorite songs, “The Writ”, I misheard a bunch of stuff:
The people here think I’m another man / The air is nothing like the ocean I swam for you …
Your sunken ship is laying down in the fog / I wish they’d move it into my frightening world with you …
You walked through me with your lying words …
Your bull and fairy got dismembered in God …
The anger always had its tattoo and curse on you …
I’m gonna get you now before you grow …

The actual lyrics are:
The faithful image of another man / The endless ocean of emotion I swam for you…
The shock troopers laying down on the floor / I wish they’d fallen into my private war with you …
You bought and sold me with your lying words …
Your fallen phallic god dismembered and gone …
The anger I once had has turned to a curse on you …
The fornication of your golden throne …

2 thoughts to “Vicious cults within the flower”

  1. That rocks because I for one have misheard just about all the lyrics from AC/DC. The internet is a truly new realm with all that is available to rehash and reflect on in ones own mind, experiences vs the reality of the original.

  2. You may be right about Megalomania. The published lyrics in the Rhino box set are still not 100%, in particular with Sabotage, and there are some obvious errors that make that clear. One thing Geezer wasn’t was a bad writer or a nonsensical one: “I’m really digging schizophrenia, the best of the earth” makes absolutely zero sense in the context of the song or in any context, for that matter.

    The sad fact is that Geezer may have long ago lost his original lyric sheet, and the copyright holder doesn’t seem to have it either.

    I think your interpretation is the closest one I’ve heard to being correct on that song.

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