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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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 – #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 – #15

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Remember how much fun it was when we were young and met people who would become instant friends? We saw them at the pool or the library or the park. There were many more people to meet at school, but it was not the same as having a close friend living next door or just down the street. So, it was hard if that person ever moved away. Even harder when dating that person and there were any questions of fidelity. The most difficult was being in love with that person who revealed their cruel and shallow soul.

These seem to be the themes of the fifth album released by Paramore, the Franklin, Tennessee, Pop Rock Punk band. Members are guitarist Taylor York, vocalist Hayley Williams and drummer Zac Farro. This album entitled “After Laughter” was co-produced by Taylor and rock music producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen. As of this publishing date, their A side top track, “Hard Times” peaked at the #6 position in the Billboard Hot 100 singles in the Rock Songs category, but is making another run at the top, moving up again from the #29 spot to #27.  The band’s style is reminiscent of Blondie with Deborah Harry‘s skill at singing with an inviting voice over up-tempo beats while delivering pensive and too real lyrics.

I know what you’re thinking.  I am writing about their song “Fake Happy.” It received serious consideration. In the very same way that the honorably mentioned Three Degrees received a review, and it was the happy tune that placed it out of contention – for both songs. For Paramore the song that had the punch and real grit of a sad song was dealing with a very toxic relationship. It was the kind of relationship that makes you cry, that hits you in the face, that makes you want to quit and keep on fighting at the same time.

Why do we put up with a loved one who keeps breaking our heart? Unfortunately, no one knows this answer. Some famous broken-hearted person once said, ‘the heart wants what the heart wants.’ That’s just a lie we tell ourselves when the other person becomes more important than our own identity. So what happens when we do this?

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Telltale Tongue

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

When we stick out our tongues at someone who has angered us,
it is a sign that what we really feel is frustration or defiance or disgust.
When we have that exact reaction in a pleasant context, it is a demonstration that what we really feel is consolation or irony or just playful.

What matters most is what we intend to express. What is in the heart.
The tongue is a big red flag (pun intended) that we wag when we want to express something cutting or hurtful.
Then again, it is a soft and comforting tool when we want to speak soothingly to someone in pain or console someone’s exasperation.

Why the tongue so powerful?
This explanation will be shorter
than a Top 40 song from 1960s.

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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?

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