Tony Iommi inspires me to make art

For the first time in my adult life I look out to the world and don’t know what to do. The problems of Brexit Britain seem overwhelming.  The world-at-large with Trump in charge is terrifying and yet I trust no political party to steer us through. I don’t know who to vote for, who to march for, or what to say any more.

Cue Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. What? No, I didn’t expect that either.

Tony Iommi and Birmingham Cathedral

A stunning collaboration between the heavy metal legend and Birmingham Cathedral has helped me figure what to do with my helplessness at our Ununited Kingdom – make art.

The lead guitarist who created the music rooted in metal-bashing Birmingham worked with his friend, the Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, to devise How Good It Is.  The composition blends his electric guitar with the strains of Birmingham Cathedral Choir.

It’s beautiful.

Tony Iommi sitting down surrounded by Birmingham Cathedral choir

How good it is

The sound alone would be enough but on top of that, there are the words, which are derived from Psalm 133: “How good it is when strangers meet and find a home.”

In a world where so many pick up their children and flee from their homes, in a world where others are lining the streets in sleeping bags, in a world where referendums and elections are won on the promise of borders and walls that will keep the strangers out, those words seem exquisitely and ethereally subversive.

I want to listen to them over and over again.  And I have done. And you can too.  (YouTube: How Good It Is)

Make art

And this in itself points me to a way forward in my despondency. I know what to do now.  I want to make art. Find your truth – the thing that you believe in – and sing it, write it, paint it, make theatre out of it.  Knit it. Spray the town with it. Keep doing it. Keep saying what you believe as beautifully and as lovingly as you can.

And the world will change.  It will.

Black Sabbath lead guitarist Tony Iommi sits with Catherine Ogle in Birmingham Cathedral
Tony Iommi with Catherine Ogle


Thank you Tony Iommi.  Thank you Catherine Ogle. Thank you Birmingham Cathedral Choir. Thank you Paul Leddington Wright for the choral arrangement.  Thank you Marcus Huxley for directing the choir. Thank you Sam Bagnall for the photographs.  Thank you Edwin Ellis Creative Media for letting me use them.