Old world wisdom, new world insight – poems, poetry, philosophy, dreams, commentary, ideas

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 2

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by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

How many times have we felt as if the world was against us? Like we were somehow earmarked for bad things to keep on happening? As if it was not enough to get bad news, but also to have something embarrassing compound and insult? Maybe at least once in life, or maybe once but for a long period of time? When this kind of “overkill” descended upon us, it was uncalled for. Not necessary. No real reason. Like being victim of collision on the open sea. As a lightning strike. We ask G_d, “Why is this happening to me?” and at other times, “Me, again?!” In some circumstances it may feel as if life itself is falling in all around us.

For Irish singer-songwriter, Gilbert O’Sullivan, born Raymond Edward, on December 1, 1946 (and still composing), expressing pain and suffering, separation and anxiety in music made for a successful career. His epic hits in the early 1970s were gateway works which single-handedly expressed the anguish of losing a loved one. They are now iconic in the world of popular music. Gilbert was born in Cork Road, Waterford, Ireland. While still in grade school his family moved to London, and later, Swindon.  As a teenager he played drums in a band named Rick’s Blues. Band members included guitarist  Malcolm Mabbett, bassist Keith Ray and Rick Davies, who later founded the progressive rock band Supertramp. Gilbert’s musical talent as a solo artist was heralded greatly in America.

His personal life did not play out in his songs, surprisingly. Gilbert was exposed to gut-wrenching suffering of death, disease and disappointment which allowed him to craft songs that we relate to. Recently, he told a reporter that, “a good lyricist has to have an understanding of [sad] situations, and this allows me to go into an area and write about it in a genuine way.” He went on to say that he did not know his father well growing up. And he found out that is father did not treat his mother well.  What is the sound of the Human psyche when it reveals the ruin of another person?

Worldwide Gilbert has charted 16 Top-40 records, including six #1 tracks.  In 1972 he had sold more singles than Elton John and Elvis combined. His crossover into the Top 40 rock and roll category gave him an exposure most artists do not achieve until they near retirement – or pass away unexpectedly. The song which propelled his career internationally was Alone Again (Naturally)and it is considered a pop rock ballad. The tune begins with the concept of suicide then explains all of the circumstances which apparently led up this decision. They include: being left at the altar by his bride, the scorn of the onlookers at the ceremony which does not take place, the death of a parent. A perfect storm of ruin with a desperate complaint to G_d, all tied up in a catchy melody with an upbeat tempo.

Everyone wanted to join in and sing along detailing this suffering. The sharing of loss is an intimate thing. So many people could relate to this feeling that the notoriety of the song itself may have overexposed Gilbert’s talent and radio presence. The single was released in May 1972 and it was soon a #1 on the US Cashbox and also the Billboard Top 100 charts. Gilbert has confessed that later in life he heard his own version of this song on the radio and it made him weep. This tune has been covered by dozens of artists in adult contemporary stylings, as well as jazz, and even a metal version.

Can we ever walk in the shoes of those who suffer so much? If we offer sympathy, we tell those we are consoling that we support them throughout the event. When we feel empathy, we look to our own experiences and hope to give comfort in some form. Sometimes a traumatic experience causes depression and anxiety. Everything is consolable with time and patience and nurturing. Even when the loss never really heals. Prayer to a higher and loving power can help in the long run, although the thought may sting years later.  This is why it is so good to talk about loss to someone, even to sing about it.

Lyrics written by Gilbert O’Sullivan

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower

And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to make clear to whomever
What it’s like when you’re shattered

Left standing in the lurch
At a church where people saying
My God, that’s tough, she stood him up
No point in us remaining

We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to, well, who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play

But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces

Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who, if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?

And in my hour of need
I truly am, indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do?
What do we do?

Alone again, naturally

Now, looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears

And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken

Leaving her to start
With a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken

And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Depressed? Do something about it. Please find help before making any rash decisions.  Click here: the National Institute of Mental Health.

Eating disorder (ED)? CLICK HERE to get more information from the NIMH.

Read up on PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder Click Here.

Don’t try suicide. Talk to somebody. Click here for the phone number and information.

Think BEFORE you drink. Click here for AA.

Copyright © 1960-2018 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.

Author: SpindoctorUSA

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