Surprising Songs Sung: First Aid Kit / War Pigs 

In 1970, heavy metal band Black Sabbath released their second album, Paranoid. With singles, “Paranoid” and “Iron Man”, this was one of the albums in constant rotation when my group of friends got together when I was a teenager. The nearly 8-minute song “War Pigs”, despite not being a single, was very popular with listeners. In fact, strangely, it also soothed my infant son in the hospital when my husband carried him through the halls singing this softly to him!

Written during the Vietnam War, the lyrics place the blame for war on politicians and generals, likening them to “witches at black masses” as they use people like pawns. Until the record company intervened, the title was originally going to be “Walpurgis” after an ancient Spring night when witches and evil were thought to be abroad, the idea being that “Satan isn’t a spiritual thing, it’s warmongers” in the words of lyricist Geezer Butler. (Sources: Wikapedia, “Paranoid (album)” and Rolling Stone, “Readers’ Poll: The 10 Greatest Black Sabbath Songs”.) 

Swedish duo, Klara and Johanna Söderberg, are known for their sweet harmonies in the folk/country songs they have been singing since they were teenagers. One of my favourites is “Emmylou”, which they sang for Emmylou Harris in 2015. I included the video in an earlier post here. They just don’t seem like they would be able to pull off singing the heavy metal “War Pigs”. And yet they do an amazing live cover version as shown in this 2015 performance.

“Surprising Songs Sung” features artists singing songs outside of their comfort zone or their usual genre.

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