MarsEarth

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


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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #11

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

The best part of growing up is finally getting into high school and then graduating. The worst part of growing up is finally getting into high school and then graduating. There are not equal parts of happiness and sadness. There are mostly sad and emotional issues for everybody involved. Going from teenager to adult is not easy. It is how we react to those situations that either force us to be “just like everyone else” or cause us to invent our own kind of “normal.” Most of us have looked in the mirror and wanted to change something about ourselves or our lives. Usually because we have compared ourselves to others, we ended up feeling like we were the ones lacking something. But, high school is a product of where we live. Almost nobody can go to high school in another state, like we can for college. So, it is our neighborhood that determines the social order of our teenage years that we struggle against.

Fighting the forces of hormones, emotion, social cliques and destructively selfish children are the topics that American singer-songwriter Janis Ian (born Janis Eddy Fink) wrote about in her early career. Janis was born in New York and cut her teeth in the folk music scene during 1960s as a teenager. Her first hit was “Society’s Child” and it made it to #13 on the Cash Box Pop Singles chart in 1965.  As a performer she took on quite a bit as a 14 year old.  That song’s focus was interracial romance.  The reality of social pressures from parents and schoolmates forced the girl to end her relationship in the song.

Not being able to “deal with the pressure” is not a failing of any young person who wants to have a friendship or something more meaningful with another person. Janis decided to speak about this in her music. After releasing several unranked songs that achieved critical acclaim, she ultimately wrote a song that struck the most sensitive nerve with young women (even to this day). She composed a song that unreservedly pointed to the cruel way  in which young women were and still are treated poorly by insensitive boys. She also exposed most young women’s secret misgiving, that they feel ugly because they are not accepted by those same selfish people and their high school peers.

Life is what we make it. So, if it is a struggle, we either gear up and learn to push back, or we just go along to get along. Either way, we make an active choice to get from 9th grade into 12th grade. This can be a skill that translates into surviving adult society’s pressures. But, why should we only survive in this world when we can live the way we want and love ourselves in the process?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #12

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Who is the one to say ‘this is how it is’ in a relationship ?  You or me? Eventually we will decide which one of us is going to be the leader. When dealing with feelings, it is true that one person loves more than the other.  That does not mean love is not worth the price we pay. But, we all know Human beings take advantage of this position in order to tease (both meanly and playfully), to critique and even to humiliate. It gets worse when the proverbial pot is calling the kettle black.

The American rock band Staind is made up of Aaron Lewis – lead vocals, Mike Mushok – lead guitar, Johnny April – bass, and Jon Wysocki – drums.  The four formed in 1995 and cut their first album in 1996. Near the end of Year 2000 they were cutting their third album, “Break the Cycle  in a network of  studios from LA to New York City to Miami, Florida. While the band was known for lyrics that were angry and depressing, it was cutting its teeth in a new metal and post-grunge style that expressed the difficulties of relationships. One song in particular highlighted what it feels like when the misgivings of a cruel lover are finally exposed.

The easiest thing to do is to criticize another person. It happens every day on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and every other overly social web that invites comment and controversy. Among our friends we talk about it at work, we engage in it behind the wheel, and raise our voices to our world’s leadership, especially those who lack leadership. What should our attitude be when the one closest to us breaks our hearts with hurtful words and hipocrisy?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #13

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Ever had a friend that was always putting themselves down? Remember the times we may have done the same thing to ourselves? It is never easy feeling inadequate. This is something we do to ourselves. If others try to tell us how we are wrong, it can make us feel powerless. If we tell ourselves we can’t make the grade, then we are just giving up true power over our own lives. Wanting to be the best we can be can involves being with others. It can get confusing if we think that someone else can make our lives better, just by being close to them.

The English alternative rock band Radiohead kicked off their career with this concept. Band members Colin Greenwood – bass guitar, Jonny Greenwood – guitar and keyboards, Ed O’Brien – guitar and backing vocals, Philip Selway – drums, and Thom Yorke – lead vocals, are all involved in songwriting. Colin has reported that Thom wrote their first hit song while a college student in the late 1980s. Supposedly the lyrics were inspired by a girl that Thom had a crush on. She showed up at one of the band’s early concerts and that was the spark. While in the studio for their first album, the band decided to perform the song for their producers. They were impressed and encouraged the bigwigs at EMI Records to release it as the group’s first single.

The band had some issues with their newfound fame beginning in 1993. Extending their tours in the US and the UK and playing the same songs over and over again.  The group complained that they felt like they were stuck. Being sad, depressed or melancholy is not an easy place to leave. Especially if our own bodies are causing us physical and mental pain.  It is so important to try… to try and get a handle on what we tell ourselves.  Is it true that our inside-the-head game is more important that what’s going on around us?

 

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #18

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard  (WARNING: adult content)

Those of us who are older are familiar with the British phrase: ‘Keep a stiff upper lip.’ It supposedly is considered an encouragement. Its intention is: ‘We support you,’ or ‘Don’t lose heart,’ or ‘Keep on keeping on.’ More currently:  ‘Keep Calm and _(fill in the blank)_.’ As Human beings we must continue to encourage each other to get through dark times. We often face a lack of resources, bullies, bad governments, snakes in sheep’s clothing, liars, cheats, and swindlers. Most of these trials involve bad people. We are never the only person in the whole world who has to face down a bully.  It just feels like that. Parents who let their kids get bullied need to seek out TV and radio media and expose the lazy system their child is inside BEFORE someone is hurt or self injures. With all the noise generated by a modern world, it seems we are more and more responsible for encouraging ourselves. What if the bully is our own mind?

The British rock band Bring Me the Horizon appears to have taken on this task. Their success on four previous albums led them to their fifth studio effort “That’s The Spirit.” There are eleven tracks on this effort and eight of them were released as singles. Music critics have said BMTH’s musicality is in the vein of Linkin Park, with chorus stylings reminiscent of bands such as early Metallica, and also Avenged Sevenfold and Thirty Seconds to Mars. Oliver Sykes, Matt Nicholls, Lee Malia, Matt Kean, and Jordan Fish make up the band.  This membership, after Curtis Ward and Jona Weinhofen left during the formative years.

Lee once revealed to BBC Radio that the first track they worked on for the fifth album was inspired by the group Rage Against the Machine. He explained that the lyrics make light of a “sh++++” situation. More specifically they deal with depression. Oliver says that the song is the unofficial tile track of the album.

We often fall into the trap of repeating to ourselves the bad words we use to describe our own shortcomings. It doesn’t have to be this way. What if we took that power and used it to build ourselves up and help ourselves get better?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #19

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Ever heard some teacher say, “In a perfect world, we would all help each other” ? It sounds noble. Except that people in a perfect world don’t need any help. Every situation would be . . . perfect. The society we live in now is not perfect by any means. We all should help each other if and where we can. Often some helpful person gets praise and we declare her/ him to be a type of  ‘hero.’ So what happens to our heroes as they become old? We also grow older and then move away only to forget them. Then, new people come to power who have never heard of our so-called hero. It happened in Egypt after the death of Joseph (and his coat of many colors). What if Earth’s ancient heroes were giant robots? What happens when these hulking contraptions re-activate themselves and are frustrated with our ridicule and lack of praise? It is a painful experience, especially when our heroes are 100% Human, too.

Consider the awkward situation that the English Rock band Black Sabbath were in.  They formed in 1968 in the county of Warwickshire, city of Birmingham, England. Drummer Bill Ward, bassist Geezer Butler, guitarist  Tony Iommi, and singer Ozzy Osbourne, and are considered pioneers of Metal Rock. More precisely Heavy Metal.  They had just released their self-titled album in 1970 when inspired to produce and release a second album that very same year. The band name came from the film, “Black Sabbath,” a 1963 effort starring Boris Karloff, and this is where the group derived their horror themed songs.

They debuted with a Certified Solid Gold album in the UK and Canada, and Platinum in the US. Their second work entitled “Paranoid” included eight innovative tracks that metal rock music fans were growing an appreciation for.  The songs were not guitar feedback and relentless drums, but styled songs with thematic lyrics.  One song in particular which Geezer penned was about a man’s journey into the future. He sees the apocalypse and quickly returns to the present to warn his society. Strangely, the trip home magnetically transforms him into a giant man of iron who is not able to speak

It is one thing to react to someone who cannot speak. It is quite another to make fun of someone when they are trying to communicate with us. There are always consequences. How do we treat people who want to be heard? What does it say about us when we ignore those who are not quite as “normal” as we are?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #26

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

We are often asked “How did it happen?” but rarely “Why did you let it happen?” We have easy answers for how a relationship fails: ‘they gave up,’ or ‘they didn’t want me any more,‘ and the tried and true ‘it was her/ him, not me.’ The problem is when it comes to ‘why’ because then we don’t always speak plainly. We are either brutally honest (truth!) or radically sarcastic (No – I hate my one and only). Sarcasm says a lot about who we really are inside, doesn’t it? Psychologists say that when we tease in this way, we reveal what is truly fascinating us.

For the long experienced British rock band 10cc a change in their future was because of the band’s name. It had been changed previously more than seven times with some varied recording success in the UK and the US as the band morphed from rock and roll to pop to bubblegum dance music. Their Strawberry Studios production facility was making hits for Top 40 artists such as Silver Fleet, Freddie and the Dreamers, Ohio Express and Neil Sedaka.

But, it was when they signed on with Jonathan King, an English singer-songwriter, record producer and music entrepreneur, that they admitted how they felt about themselves as rock and roll songwriters and musicians. Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldman, Kevin Godley, and Lol Crème used the “male sex drive” moniker to lead them to five Top 10 singles and a #1 hit all from their first five releases.

On their way to success in America the quirky “Life is a Minestrone” was the first single from their third studio album, “The Original Soundtrack.” For some this parody was too Frank Zappa-esque and a confusing surprise.  It seems their sharp wit put off quite a few music lovers, despite reaching #7 in the UK. That is the slippery part about sarcasm, it sometimes makes people laugh when we are expressing how sad we really are about something.

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #28

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? Continue reading