MarsEarth

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


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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #16

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

We love through sheer determination. Not all of us can rise to the occasion of a Liam Neeson character who can track down a loved one unto the ends of the earth. However, among those of us with some form of courage, we find that we can walk through fire to find and help the person whom we love. If they leave us and don’t want to be found, it does not matter how hard we look. They just can’t be located.

Elvis Aaron Presley (Jan 8, 1935 – Aug 16, 1977)

That must have been what country singer  Eddie Rabbitt and songwriter Dick Heard were thinking when they wrote a particular song that was meant for Elvis Presley to sing. Elvis received the track early in 1969. It was initially recorded at the American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.  Almost one year later, the song was released as an A-side single on the RCA Records label.

When Elvis went on tour in 1970, he introduced it as a new song. It quickly became a signature work that was part of the ballads which made him a great singer, and King of Rock and Roll. For Eddie Rabbit, the theme is based on an anxious lover. The person takes on a search to find the one he loves. The song’s imagery is heavy and it effectively paints a picture that no matter where the man goes, there is no one who can help in this particular case. Not even a preacher.

Having strong feelings for someone can make us obsessive or single-minded or blinded. If we feel that strongly, we might chase the dream and try to make our way to our loved one’s front door. How bad can that be?

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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 – #21

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Ever been in a situation where the person you are speaking with does not understand what is being said? We repeat ourselves sometimes to the point where we speak louder until that person finally says, “Oh. I get it.”  But then they don’t? When a loved one tells us that they are out of love and the relationship is ended, do we / can we  just shut it off?

One of the most controversial rock and roll bands ever to get radio air play was The Doors. Band members: keyboardist Ray Manzarek (1939-2013), guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and vocalist Jim Morrison (1943-1971).  Their formation began in July, 1965, when Jim and Ray were schoolmates at UCLA. Ray was a songwriter and laid the groundwork for many of the group’s tunes. After some earlier musicians left the ensemble they got a gig at a Los Angeles club, The London Fog, in 1966. A low attendance rate at that location meant the band could work out song kinks and in some cases, lengthen their works with leads and improved lyrics without the crowd requesting cover songs.

They eventually got hired to perform at The Whiskey A Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood.  There Elektra Records producers signed them to a contract by mid-August and three days later The Doors self-titled album was in the works.  Iconic songs on this first effort included: “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” “Soul Kitchen,” “Light My Fire” and “The End” and as planned, it was released in January, 1967.

There was also one song in particular, written by Jim, which detailed despair. It included a keyboard solo that echoed the sadness of the theme. Some insist that it was a poem about a love affair that Jim ended. Some interpret the lyrics as double entendre for drug use. Many others believe the lyrics discuss suicide.  No matter how we feel about the song, it is separation from the familiar at any point that can cause heartache for all involved.

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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)?

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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 – #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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