Saturday, December 13, 2014

Uriah Heep - The Wizard

Uriah Heep is many things. They are a largely forgotten progressive rock band from the greatest era of music ever (the sixties and seventies). They are an endearing band that has existed for over forty years, thank you Mic Box for keeping the dream alive. They are a fun band that frequently visited themes of fantasy and science fiction. Also Uriah Heep is a prime example of what the seventies were. While largely forgotten in time, Uriah Heep did enjoy a splash of success in the early days of their career and part of it probably had something to do with just how well they fit in with the peace and love movement.

There are few things more relaxing and easy going then mellow hippie music, and some of Uriah Heep’s early tracks fit that moniker well, perhaps most notably “The Wizard.” Like many early Uriah Heep songs “The Wizard” is very simple, all you need to play it is the C, D, and G on a string guitar. In fact “The Wizard” is one of the few songs I learned to play adequately well, and I am but a dabbler.

This ties in directly to what I would consider the two culture primary points of a song like “The Wizard.” There is the obvious fantasy theme, which I love and there is also the overlap of the seventies hippie moment present throughout.

The music video is soooooo nineteen seventies:
Everyone seems so happy in that video.

The first instinct most people is to assume anything about a kindly old wizard is based off of Gandalf or possibly Merlin, I do not feel Uriah Heep is singing about any such specific individual in “The Wizard.” As described in the second verse;

“He had a cloak of gold and eyes of fire,
And as he spoke I felt a deep desire,
To free the world of its fear and pain,
And help the people to feel free again.”

Gandalf never wore a cloak of gold. The wizard in question comes off like some kindly old hippie which directly ties into the second primary cultural inspiration.

“He was the wizard of a thousand kings,
And I chanced to meet him one night wandering.
He told me tales, and he drank my wine,
Me and my magic man, kinda feeling fine.”

Basically the song is about getting drunk and stoned with a hippie, who happens to be a sorcerer, which is amazing. If I was foolish enough to indulge impossible things on the bucket list of my life, it would include getting drunk and stoned with a wizard.

It is easy to see just how strongly this all ties into the peace and love moment, after all the message of the Wizard is about cooperation and understanding:

“Why don’t we listen to the voices in our hearts?
Because then I know we’d find were not so far apart.
Everybodys got to be happy, everyone should sing,
For we know the joy of life, the peace that love can bring.”

So spoke the wizard in his mountain home.
The vision of his wisdom means well never be alone.
And I will dream of my magic night,
And the million silver stars,
That guide me with their light.”

It is simple notion that likely is invoked constantly but is nearly thought of in such terms, why don’t we listen to the voices in our hearts? The truth is, no matter for culturally different we are, with open hearts we will always find we are not so far apart. It is a really message in a really mellow song, and I find it so completely calming.

“The Wizard” is the first track off of Uriah Heep’s 1972 album “Demons and Wizards” evidently “The Wizard” along with “Paradise/The Spell” satisfy the “wizard” half of the album title. Meanwhile “Rainbow Demon” one of my favorite songs of all time which obviously is the “demon” side of the equation. The theme of wizards and magic would carrying on to Uriah Heep’s next album, released the same year “The Magician’s Birthday” and I suspect the magician and the wizard are the same lovable hippie, but perhaps I will discuss more on that another day.

- King of Braves

P.S. Also fun, the Blind Guardian cover:

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