MarsEarth

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


Leave a comment

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.

Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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. 

Continue reading


1 Comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #17

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

This is nothing wrong with death. It is a natural process in the life cycle of living things. Unfortunately, there are circumstances where some of us face death all too soon in our journey here on Earth. American TV advertising floods programming with commercials telling us to buy products which will keep us young and reverse or slow the aging process. Why? Manufacturers think that we are afraid of dying and of looking old. So, they assemble products to “boost” naturally fading hormones. Surprisingly, the Botulinum toxin (BTX) a neuro-toxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum is one of those products. BTX is an acutely lethal toxin that “they think” will stop the aging process through paralysis. Who wants a killing toxin injected into the body, much less injected into the face? Ironically . . . people who are afraid of dying and looking old.


More than 23 years ago, (how’s that for aged?) Scott Hull founded the grindcore band Agoraphobic Nosebleed in Springfield, Massachusetts with Carl Schultz and J. R. Hayes.  While many band members have come and gone, Scott is the remaining original. He is a guitarist and drum programmer who can be pointed out as a significant influence on several drum-machine grindcore bands today.   Grindcore is a genre of music that is considered ‘extreme’ because it uses slow, industrial laden beats, abrasive-sounding tones, including heavily distorted and down-tuned guitars and grinding overdriven bass. The beat can flip to a high speed tempo with blasting vocals – growls and rumblings, and even screams.

Today, the group is made up Jay Randall, Kat Katz, formerly of SalomeRichard Johnson of Enemy Soil and Drugs of Faith, and John Jarvis formerly of Pig Destroyer and Fulgora. ANb has perfected the “micro-song” characteristic by releasing four studio albums and 27 short length efforts in their career. This includes the EP entitled “ARC” which has a track that puts the listener in the center of a death scene. The EP features vocalist Kat. “ARC” is supposed to be the inaugural effort of a four-work EP series. The purpose of which allows each individual band member to express themselves through the grindcore experience.

What is it like when we lose a dear loved one? Do we only shed tears? If our feelings could speak, would they not also scream and growl and breakdown in loud and sorrowful desperation? What is that one thing we would petition our dying loved one before their life oozed from this realm of pleasure and pain?

Continue reading


4 Comments

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #22

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Years of experience have taught our old time farmers what to expect in a given situation. Pleasant weather turning bad. What is a good tool and what is a better tool to use for a job. How to not let your eyes fool you – so use a measuring stick.  And, what it really takes to get from point A to point B.  There is always that outlier, that one freak possibility which can cause everything to go wrong. We are instructed to be prepared for that outcome and especially a loss in any case.

In 1968 Michael Martin Murphey was a student at UCLA, working on a concept album for Kenny Rogers. The work meant long hours and little sleep. In his fatigue Michael is said to have dreamed of a song.  He woke up and by the next morning wrote it down. He told an interviewer that the song reminded him of a story his grandfather told him when he was a little boy. It detailed a Native American legend about a ghost horse.

Michael was teamed up with Boomer Castleman in 1967 as part of a duo known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition (which had a brief stint on TV).   After Michael began his solo career later in 1968 he co-wrote his song with Larry Cansler. They were struggling in southern California at the time.

By 1971 Michael came back to Texas and joined the “Outlaw Country” movement. He was working along side Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker. Michael created a unique blend of country, rock, and folk music. This caught the ear of Epic Records managers who produced four albums for him, including “Blue Sky – Night Thunder” which peaked at #18 on the Billboard 200 Album chart in 1975. This was the seminal work of Michael’s career. The lead track of the album still brings young girls and old men to tears. It is the tale of a man facing devastating weather, a runaway prized pony, and a lost love.

Continue reading


2 Comments

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #23

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. We don’t intend to be just like our parents or guardians. Something happens as we grow older and begin to use good habits to protect ourselves or personal interests. We also try out bad habits that supposedly help us to ‘get through it’ or ‘to forget’ painful trials. This is how we evolve into who we are. Some of us are strong and motivated to develop good things and to make life better. The rest of us have weaknesses. We are preoccupied with not fainting from the pain, or struggling to see the light of a new day. We all confront roadblocks and hassles and really stupid humans along the way. If any of us get a chance to be a role model, we often struggle with doing the right thing.

For singer and songwriter Harry Chapin (1942 – 1981) our world was in was in constant need of somebody doing the right thing. Some of his friends such as Bruce Springsteen would say he was more than an activist and a little overbearing besides. Harry was versatile and his work as a guitar teacher brought him together with a student, Sandy Gaston, whom he asked to marry two years into their relationship. The new Mrs. Sandy Chapin inspired one of Harry’s songs “I wanna learn a love song“. The two would later collaborate on one of the most impactful hits which is still very recognizable today.

The new song’s lyrics began as a poem written by Sandy. It was inspired by the awkward relationship between her first husband James Cashmore and his father.  Apparently fathers and sons have issues when the dad is too busy with work or another relationship to maintain a connection. it is rumored that Harry told an audience that the song scared him just thinking about its implications. Is it really that hard for a father to spend time and nurture a relationship with a growing son (or daughter)?

Continue reading


1 Comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #27

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

When we hear someone say, “it is what it is,” are we admitting that we are accepting things the way they are or accepting people for the way they act? Not necessarily.  It may be more along the lines of “facts are facts.” Some things we just cannot deny. There will be people in our lives who are as flawed as characters in a play. At times, those people can be us. Doing what is best can break our own hearts.

Consequently, a reputation can open a door that would rarely be approachable on our life journey. Such was the opportunity for singers Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle.  Michael had been four years separated from the Doobie Brothers rock band when he got a call from Patti. It was an invitation to turn a song into a duet for her upcoming “Winner In You” LP. She had just released the #1 Dance chart single “New Attitude” out of the film soundtrack for “Beverly Hills Cop.” It had also cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Rock fans never stopped adoring Michael’s full-bodied melancholy tone. But, his solo work was moving deeper into the beats of 1980’s rhythms. So were Patti’s when she cut a new song track. Decidedly, she told her recording engineer that the vibe was not on point. She wanted to redo it as a duet. When asked who she would like to sing with, Patti immediately suggested Michael. Rock fans could not have been prouder.

Despite the two of them being on different coasts, a team of producers worked out the audio and the video separation elements. This brought them together for radio and MTV audiences. And yet, the song was wholeheartedly about being apart, alone, and torn up over a difficult break-up. No matter how we try to make a relationship work there will be circumstances where staying together is not in our best interest.

Continue reading


2 Comments

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #30

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

That’s it! I quit!

We hear you. We’ve all been there at some point hoping to get out of a bad situation. It really takes a lot of bad news to break off a relationship. When it is over, though, it is so over. Usually it is not because of one misunderstanding nor a string of them. The reasons to break up with somebody abruptly can be anything from not being appreciated to cheating and lying. The feeling of hurt mixed with anger is not an easy process to wade through.

One of America’s most eclectic musicians and songwriters who is able to articulate this feeling is David Bromberg. His musical tastes run the gamut. They are as varied as the many musicians he has played with.  These include:  Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Rusty Evans, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, John Hiatt, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. David’s virtuoso guitar style is featured on 18 solo albums. Although his roots are based in folk music, his songs reflect his life and times. So, what was it that made him so determined to separate from a girlfriend that inspired his iconic break-up song?

David got an idea for the 1976 album “How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?” and it involved a big split – but in a good way. The album is a two record / two CD collectors item. The first is a studio session collection of humorous songs. David shows off his guitar blues skill. The second includes his break-up rendition. David must have come face to face with a really unfaithful person. We can feel lost and betrayed when the one who loves us shares their affection with someone else.

Continue reading