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Joe Bongiorno is the owner and operator of The Royal Publisher of Oz. He serves as the guest for the 2016 Reconnect Halloween Special to discuss Supernatural Horror in Music, the subtitle for his book, Black Sabbath The Illustrated Lyrics Volume 1.
For many Reconnect listeners, it might come as a shock that a podcast dedicated to sharing and defending the Good News of Jesus Christ has an entire episode devoted to the lyrics of Black Sabbath, much less a Halloween special episode, however, Bongiorno took a surprising approach on how to start his eight volume anthology. Even before the inside title page, publisher information, copyright listings, ISBN numbers, and table of contents, the first words are from the Bible. Bongiorno chose to start Black Sabbath The Illustrated Lyrics by quoting, Acts 26:17-18: “I am sending you to them to open their eyes so that they may turn away from darkness to the light, away from the power of Satan and to God.” This is not what most people would think about to describe a rock n roll band, and certainly not what they would first think of for Black Sabbath.
Bongiorno shares the distinctions between supernatural horror and natural horror and explains examples of supernatural horror within Black Sabbath’s first album. The horrors and consequences of the occult are revealed, a Christ-like figure emerges as a wizard that demons fear, the devil woos a woman he loves (or is it all deception?), while the wicked world spins on a man receive omens in the sky that he ignores to his and our peril, while all along at the center of the album, the “wall of sleep is lying broken” as the “sun shines in, you have awoken.” There is hope. There is light.
The centerpiece message of “Behind the Wall of Sleep” contains what Bongiorno thinks is the underlying philosophy of Black Sabbath’s full body of work: “Now from darkness, there springs light.” Over, and over, and over again, light triumphs over darkness in the metanarative of Black Sabbath’s lyrics. Paul echoes this sentiment pointing us back to creation and the renewal of man that comes through Jesus Christ: “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).