MarsEarth

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


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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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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 – #25

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Sometimes we ask a question and hope anyone listening will give the answer. Other times we ask a rhetorical question because we know the answer, but a friend will answer it anyway. We tell them to ‘shut up’ and to go away, but we hope they really don’t.  We just cannot win at pushing away people who care about us. How ironic it is that we do that to them when someone we loved just pushed us away.

The Brothers Gibb: Barry, Robin (1949-2012) and Maurice (1949-2003) Gibb, AKA the Bee Gees music group, pose a question for the ages and put it to music. In the start of the new year in 1971 they were in London, England,  recording their seventh international album, “Trafalgar“. The Battle of Trafalgar was a British naval victory against the French and Spanish fleets in 1805. You would think the song themes of the album would be about glory and fame. Not so – many of the tracks deal with heartbreak and loneliness.

At the time, Maurice was going through some personal trials with heavy drinking and   accusations of extramarital affairs. He had been married to the highly popular Scottish singer Lulu. Since they both abused alcohol and partied too much their young marriage ended after only four years. Barry and Robin could see the decline happening to their brother. They expressed his pain and their helplessness in song. How bad does it have to get before we ask for help? Continue reading


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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


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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #29

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

Fear of the unknown comes in many forms while confidence means facing the unknown with faith in our own skills. Most of us would like to have all the answers before we know what questions will be asked. Life just does not give us instant anything. We have to make an effort to get out of life everything we put in it. Sometimes what we need to succeed appears to happen by chance.

Acquiring the formula for success was a puzzle for keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. In 1960 he had formed the foundation for the band Styx working under the “Trade Winds” name. The group consisted of twin brothers Chuck Panozzo  and John Panozzo, Tom Nardini, John Curulewski when Tom departed, then James J.Y.” Young joined.

This Chicago rock band was an inconsistent group, even though they garnered national success with four album releases which included  “Lady” (#6), “Best Thing” (#82), and “Lorelie” (#27). The very popular “Suite Madame Blue” (no ranking) was not a hit single. Soon the band –  by blind luck it seems – had to replace Curulewski who suddenly confessed he needed more family time late in 1975.

This is when Tommy Shaw joined Styx as songwriter and lead vocals, quickly influencing the band’s trajectory and album themes. One of his songs would soon stand out as a mournful plea to a so-called “magical source” of insight. When we worry too much, we sometimes seek assistance from strange places.  Continue reading


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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.

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