MarsEarth

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


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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – Runners Up

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Here are the songs that were certainly on the order of  sad/ melancholy. Obviously, they had so much more anger or enthusiasm than the numbered ones that they floated on the proverbial pool of tears. Nevertheless, I was determined to root out the rock and roll songs that sank to the bottom of despair and discouragement. Apparently, there is a lot of gloomy frustration and heartbreak amongst us.

Real life is why we have so many tortured souls who seek out artistic ways to deal with and work out their issues. Thank heaven for music.

Here are a group of songs with a heavy touch of sadness. They are so good, and thankfully still enjoyable, without kicking up any trauma or ripping off any scabs of pain during the performance. 

I share them with you below. The next installment will be the #1 saddest of all. Promise.

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 2

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

How many times have we felt as if the world was against us? Like we were somehow earmarked for bad things to keep on happening? As if it was not enough to get bad news, but also to have something embarrassing compound and insult? Maybe at least once in life, or maybe once but for a long period of time? When this kind of “overkill” descended upon us, it was uncalled for. Not necessary. No real reason. Like being victim of collision on the open sea. As a lightning strike. We ask G_d, “Why is this happening to me?” and at other times, “Me, again?!” In some circumstances it may feel as if life itself is falling in all around us.

For Irish singer-songwriter, Gilbert O’Sullivan, born Raymond Edward, on December 1, 1946 (and still composing), expressing pain and suffering, separation and anxiety in music made for a successful career. His epic hits in the early 1970s were gateway works which single-handedly expressed the anguish of losing a loved one. They are now iconic in the world of popular music. Gilbert was born in Cork Road, Waterford, Ireland. While still in grade school his family moved to London, and later, Swindon.  As a teenager he played drums in a band named Rick’s Blues. Band members included guitarist  Malcolm Mabbett, bassist Keith Ray and Rick Davies, who later founded the progressive rock band Supertramp. Gilbert’s musical talent as a solo artist was heralded greatly in America.

His personal life did not play out in his songs, surprisingly. Gilbert was exposed to gut-wrenching suffering of death, disease and disappointment which allowed him to craft songs that we relate to. Recently, he told a reporter that, “a good lyricist has to have an understanding of [sad] situations, and this allows me to go into an area and write about it in a genuine way.” He went on to say that he did not know his father well growing up. And he found out that is father did not treat his mother well.  What is the sound of the Human psyche when it reveals the ruin of another person?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 3

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Is there such a thing as an ultimate sacrifice? There are many stories in Earth history that detail the struggle of one man and also of one woman. These epic heroes are against the odds of success. They are in some sort of peril, facing overwhelming forces or powers. Usually there is little energy left in the tank – so they act through pure adrenaline. They are committed to an ideal which is often retold as the salvation of those left behind. These fighters take the battle to the enemy or opposing force. They attack with purpose. They counterattack with precision. They often win the battle or the war. We back at home celebrate their victories and anniversaries, but remember the lost. When our heroes lose, they lose it all. They lose their future, their reward, and in one final indignity, their lives seem to be silently snuffed out. Is this the ultimate sacrifice which a hero can give for the good of those she/ he loved? Is more lost when they die for what they believed in?

In some sense we all lose when any loved one perishes in our place. They take on the responsibility of protecting our rights and way of life.  It is the fighting men and women of our nation’s military who appear to be the larger-than-life subject matter in a particular song from Five Finger Death Punch (5FDP). This group is American heavy metal band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Formed in 2005, the band says that their name comes from the Kung Fu genre film “The Five Fingers of Death” (1972).  As I understand it 5FDP  originally consisted of vocalist Ivan Moody, guitarist Zoltan Bathory, guitarist Caleb Andrew Bingham, bassist Matt Snell, and drummer Jeremy Spencer in 2005. Caleb was replaced by guitarist Darrell Roberts one year later. Then in 2009 he was replaced by Jason Hook. By 2010 bassist Matt Snell split from the band and Chris Kael took up the position. With all the talent coming and going, it’s a wonder that the foundation members did not seek out some type of separation counseling. Is what we see happening on the outside of a person explain the pain going on inside that person’s mind?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 4

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

There is nothing grand or mysterious about being alone and lonely. We make comparisons in our experiences and cite epic metaphors in literature. Loneliness is a condition we can sympathize with when someone or a family suffers the loss of  a loved one. Loneliness is discrete – it is either a heavy psychological weight or it is just a notion in passing. There is no universal description of what it is like to be lonely. On one hand there are as many ways to feel lonely as there are situations of separation.  On the other hand we can say the feeling is a physical emptiness and there is only one solution, that is to get back the companionship we have lost. We want to rid ourselves of this emotion and dealing with it in song sometimes helps us cope with the imposing seclusion.

For the  British progressive musical group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) expressing deep emotion is achieved by using traditional stringed instruments, as well as opera in their songs. ELO was innovative in highlighting symphony music within the rock and roll power ballad. Their melodies conjured feelings from bright joys to heartbreaking sorrows. Is there a song that everybody can relate to when feeling all alone?

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – # 5

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Is there any significant difference between longing, yearning, and pining. Each word gives a feeling of separation, emptiness, incompleteness or even loss. Why do Humans have such feelings and dreams and fears? These emotions often propel us into that place where being away from a loved one can invoke physical pain. Is it because we were designed this way? Was it a set of learned combinations?

Human societies must have suffered a lot in order to teach the next generation to be mindful of  sadness. We still glorify pain and loss in our stories and songs today. When was the first time these words were ever spoken: “I miss you” ? We may have uttered this phrase aloud after reading a letter from someone far away. Or, we could have longed, yearned, and pined for a loved one after discovering that they were undergoing a difficult trial or some extreme hardship.

Our best artists use musical instruments to generate vibrations mimicking groans that excite the brain. These sounds invite use to relive our valuable memories. Mellow tones for self-awareness and high shrill vibrations for self-preservation. Distinctive melodies cause us to feel both joy and pain. David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright of Pink Floyd the progressive rock band constantly were constantly perfecting a combination of sounds to evoke emotion. This was evident in the group’s ninth studio album “Wish You Were Here.” It was released in the UK on the Harvest Record label, and on Columbia Records in the USA. Neither company could keep up with the public’s demand for the it. The saddest song on the record asked the most questions.

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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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