by Lawrence J. J. Leonard
Life is wonderful and every day is a diamond in the rough. Except when it is not. Since 1960 America has been videotaping and broadcasting war and violence and abuse and assaults for TV and film. The visual message does influence everyone who sees it. Ask any corpporation that has paid for and shown a Super Bowl commercial. Of course moving images and sounds can alter people’s consciousness in good and bad ways.
There was a time when rock bands would design acoustic albums to express the intensity of life’s ups and downs. In 1970 the English rock band Led Zeppelin went unplugged on their third album “Led Zeppelin III” Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham (1948-1980) and John Paul Jones were on a retreat at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in the country of Wales. Jimmy and Robert went for a hike and brought along a guitar.
They composed the beginnings of a song with Robert’s lyrics that highlighted the stressful issues of the day. They sang about pollution and even all the anti-Zeppelin sentiment experienced on their earlier American tour: being spat on and having guns drawn on the band. The 1970s decade saw the first generation growing up with color TV and mobile phones. There was also a constant barrage of Vietnam War news and anti-war protests on TV. The newspapers even took sides cajoling subscribers and readers who to love and who to hate.
Sad news has made this particular generation weary. The youngest among us now are numb to violence. It is the saddest kind of mind control: witnessing crime on video while news media continue to incite viewers to hate. How do we stop exposing ourselves to negativity?
The song “That’s the Way” was one of ten tracks that were popular with ‘underground’ rock and roll radio stations: the non-Top 40 and album oriented format studios. It spoke out on what “the establishment” was telling the younger generation to believe. The songs on “Led Zeppelin III” were bluesy but most of all they were memorable. This propelled the album as an international success. It ranked #1 in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, UK and USA Billboard 200 Album charts. It garnered Top 5 album status in France, Japan, Norway, Spain and Germany all in the same year.
The best thing about getting through hard times is that our music can reflect how we feel. We can take control of our sadness and negativity suppliers by making better choices about what goes into our eyes and ears. “But now’s the time to look and look again at what you see. Is that the way it ought to stay?”
Lyrics: written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant
I don’t know how I’m gonna tell you,
I can’t play with you no more,
I don’t know how I’m gonna do what mama told me,
My friend, the boy next door.
I can’t believe what people saying,
You’re gonna let your hair hang down,
I’m satisfied to sit here working all day long,
You’re in the darker side of town.
And when I’m out I see you walking,
Why don’t your eyes see me,
Could it be you’ve found another game to play,
What did mama say to me.
That’s the way, oh,
That’s the way it ought to be,
Yeah, yeah, mama say
That’s the way it ought to stay.
And yesterday I saw you standing by the river,
And weren’t those tears that filled your eyes,
And all the fish that lay in dirty water dying,
Had they got you hypnotized?
And yesterday I saw you kissing tiny flowers,
But all that lives is born to die.
And so I say to you that nothing really matters,
And all you do is stand and cry.
I don’t know what to say about it,
When all you ears have turned away,
But now’s the time to look and look again at what you see,
Is that the way it ought to stay?
That’s the way…
That’s the way it oughtta be
Oh don’t you know now, mama said..
That’s the way it’s gonna stay, yeah.
Copyright © 1960-2017 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.