MarsEarth

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


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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 6

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

A common expression we hear not only in team sports but also in relationships is “She/ he seemed to  hit a wall.” This could mean a physical obstacle such as endurance or not seeing the “big picture.” However, in a relationship it can mean that the people involved could not make it work or even reach some sort of a compromise. When there are problems just getting along it can be very frustrating.  A psychological professional might look for a way the people involved acknowledge the problem and then take responsibility for their own (lack of) contribution. We can and should depend on our friends for acknowledgement, sociability, and communications. At best we hope that the other person understands our setbacks and failures. At worst our friendships can be more like, to use a phrase, “misery loves company.”

Chad Gray frontman for the Dallas, Texas, metal band HELLYEAH, writes songs that reach the very hearts of metal music fans. In 2006 Chad was fronting his first band, Mudvayne, while developing a project with former Nothingface guitarist Tom Maxwell, bassist Kyle Sanders, former Pantera and Damageplan drummer Vinnie Paul, with guitarist Christian Brady.  Chad has said in interviews that most people who like rock music want some kind of outlet to express  feelings and emotions associated with lost love.  Maybe because this is a common human experience.  Relationships that end – for good or bad – are a kind of parting and it is these broken ties which make us who we are.

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 7

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Somewhere in our past – and even our present for many of us – we can recall someone who has reached the limits of physical pain. They have hit the wall of emotional strain. Perhaps felt the crushing blow of loss.  Could be the loss of a loved one. Or loss of self worth. We empathize and want to help. We want to ease their suffering. We want to wave a magic wand or call in a favor from G_d, then *poof* the miracle changes everything. We don’t have that kind of power. So our relationship with this person changes. They want out. Or they decide to give up because they are tired of fighting the pain. They let go and leave… forever. They release their grip on this realm, but we refuse let go of their memory.

After seven years of touring and writing songs and studio efforts, the band Breaking Benjamin was able to address the kind of sorrow that humans face when badgered by hopelessness, age, cancer, and worst of all pain in their bodies and minds. The band formed in 1999 with Benjamin Burnley as lead vocalist and guitars, Aaron Fink as lead guitarist, Mark Klepaski as bassist, and Chad Szeliga (originally Jeremy Hummel ) as drummer.

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remember, only you remember

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

…remember only you remember…
together in places
we left traces of when we last spoke

about make-believe races
purported cases
of out of sync paces

then the laces fall
and if now we talk at all

your memory of loving me fades away
until the day

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Tom Petty – RIP

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

In an ironic twist of life and death, we will soon celebrate the birthday of Thomas Earl Petty, AKA Tom Petty, the  American rock musician, singer-songwriter, producer and music icon.  He was born in Gainesville, Florida, on October 20, 1950.

As the lead singer of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in his early career, he went on to co-found the 1980s supergroup “The Traveling Wilburys” with George Harrison (formerly of The Beatles) which also included Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne (formerly of Electric Light Orchestra).

His recent death on October 2, 2017,  came too soon for our current generation of youth and 20-somethings who are woefully musically clueless by being exposed to the overpoliticized genre that is the self-aggrandizing rhythmic expression performed as Rap. Add to that the Electronic Pop swill from LA and NYC “record” production companies which foist repetitive and mindless phrases posing as anthems into the distribution stream to hawk oversexualized personas that will never pass as teen role models no matter how little they “donate to show you care” –  when everyone is looking. But, I digress. Suffice to say that music as an art form has gone DOWN a peg with his unexpected passing.

If you grew up with rock music and appreciated what it was to sing about America and the American dream, or even if you only just learned about his melodies, or were ever fortunate enough to see him in concert, you may appreciate the following  song from the Heartbreaker’s golden years.  It was at the dawning of cable TV and MTV and CCTV and mobile phones. 

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #10

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Can we ‘have our cake and eat it, too?’ This is an example of a kind of paradox. If we eat it, it is gone then we do not have it. If we have it, we cannot eat it, too, because it would be gone. It is akin to saying, ‘this statement is false.’ Which may be true. But, it cannot be both ‘false’ and ‘true’ at the same time. In some instances we look at our own lives and say to ourselves, “I refuse to live like this.” Then again, paradoxically we are here, living those lives we are refusing to endure.

Consider the American rock band Shinedown. They hail from Jacksonville, Florida, and were formed by singer-songwriter Brent Smith. He started the band after his self titled “Smith” band broke up while still under contract with Atlantic Records. He reorganized in 2002 and recruited original band members: guitarist Jasin Todd, bassist Brad Stewart, and percussionist Barry Kerch. But these members did not stay together for long. The group members outgrew each other after the first two albums. And it was these works which sparked the Shinedown trek into music history. To date the band has accounted for over 10 million records sold.  They have 11 #1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 Mainstream Rock charts, which is third behind Van Halen and Three Days Grace.

Being happy or sad or upset with the way our current situation is, may be a matter of choice. Each day we face situations that are thrust upon us. We somehow keep trying over and over to get it right. This is how Shinedown eventually began writing songs that dealt with pain and angst for their debut album “Leave a Whisper.” They crafted lyrics which discussed coping with life’s hurts and disappointments. After  a handful of demos and seven auditions for a drummer, which Barry eventually made the grade, they were able to fulfill their recording contract. The first track, “Fly from the Inside” was released as a single just two months before the album debuted.  The song which featured cries of pain and frustration peaked at #5. Then there was another song which sparked some serious controversy.

This new new song was reportedly not about suicide but about being comfortable in your own skin. Apparently, the world hands us the power to enjoy the gift of life or the power to destroy our own world. The group’s fans reacted favorably to the desolate guitar riffs and gloomy tone of the melody.  Do we have the will to get through the ashes of a bad day despite our fears?

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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 – #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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