Meaning of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs song

How this Black Sabbath song came to be is not completely clear, because the band members contradict each other, talking about where, how and what it was written about. Currently, it is considered to be anti-war, although it was originally dedicated to the coven of witches, which is called Walpurgis Night.

Let’s try to figure out what’s what.

The history of creation and the meaning of the song War Pigs

Let’s start with the recollections of Bill Ward and Tony Iomi that the melody of the song was born from them when they performed in some shabby Swiss institution. The group’s repertoire was not enough, so they were forced to improvise. During one of these jams, the melody War Pigs was born.

Now to quote the words of Geezer Butler:

The song was written as Walpurgis (“Walpurgis”), which sounds a bit like War Pigs. Walpurgis Night is something like Christmas for Satanists. And for me, the war was like a big Satan. It wasn’t about politics or government or anything like that. She was about evil. So I used to say, “Generals gathered in droves/Like witches at black masses” to draw analogies. But then we took it to the record company and they thought Walpurgis sounded too satanic. That’s when we turned it into War Pigs.

NoiseCreep, 2010

Ozzy confirmed Geezer’s version, explaining that they got the idea for the song from Aleister Crowley’s book. Moreover, according to him, he did not know anything at all about Vietnam at that time, since at that time he was not interested in anything other than drugs.

And only Butler claimed that the War Pigs were “totally against the Vietnam War and how these rich politicians and the rich start wars for personal gain and make poor people die for them.” There is also a widely spread version according to which the song began with military stories heard by the musicians during their performance at the US Air Force base.

However, even if, according to the original idea of ​​the authors, the song was not anti-war, later it became one.

Release and achievements

War Pigs opens the album Paranoid, released in 1970. The members of Black Sabbath wanted to make it the title track of the record, but the bosses of the Vertigo label considered such a name too provocative. The song was not released as a single.

The composition was included in the list of 100 greatest guitar solos according to the readers of Guitar World magazine.

Interesting Facts

  • The closing section of the song is called Luke’s Wall, after Luke Lucas and Spock Wall, who accompanied the band on tour.
  • After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, War Pigs entered the list of songs that are not recommended for radio play.
  • At least two bands have been named after the song. One is an Austrian tribute band that plays Black Sabbath tracks, and the other is a Hungarian rock band.
  • In 2013, a journalist from Spin asked Geezer why the first two lines ended with masses. The Black Sabbath bassist replied that he couldn’t think of a better rhyme and added that he didn’t care, as many Victorian poets used the same technique.

War Pigs

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They just started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgment day comes

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spread his wings
Oh lord yeah!

War Pigs

The generals gathered in crowds
Like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers who sow death
Bodies are burning in the fields
As long as the war machine keeps moving
Death and hatred reign among the people,
Poisoning their brainwashed
Oh yes, Lord!

Politicians bury their heads in the sand
They just started the war
Should they fight?
They leave this role to the poor

In time, the truth will come out
How their overbearing minds made wars for fun
Treating people like pawns
Wait for their doomsday

And now the world stops spinning in darkness
Ashes in place of burning bodies
War pigs have no more power
The hand of the Lord began
Judgment day, God is calling
Pigs of war crawl on their knees
Begging for mercy for their sins
And Satan laughs, spreading his wings,
Oh yes, Lord!

Song quote

…the greatest heavy metal song of all time.

guitar world

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