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 – # 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 – # 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 – # 8

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

For hundreds of years there have been people who for one reason or another needed to avoid a king’s authority. Maybe they were thieves. It could have been that they broke some posted or some obscure rule or order. Of course, they may have been in opposition to the crown because religion or family ties. However, when it comes to the laws of love we have so many reasons to be in it, even when it may be forbidden because of another person who is supposed to be receiving our affections. There are so many complications attached to a new romance when we are in the middle of an established one. This drive is usually what causes the deceptions and fibs associated with an affair. There are only a handful of books and websites that teach us how to spot someone being untruthful. It seems that only a few errant lovers have the ability to hide in plain sight.

For a southern California band that began covering rock standards, writing songs about people with a love agenda was a strength for the band known as the EAGLES.  They had formed in 1971. A year later they debuted their self-titled work which caught the attention of rock, folk and country music fans in America and around the world.  The band is ranked #75 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. EAGLES band members Glenn FreyDon Henley, Bernie LeadonDon Felder, Randy Meisner and  Jim Ed Norman had relationship problems themselves.

By 1975 Bernie was replaced by Joe Walsh, a  legitimate rock star in his own right. Don and Glenn over the years had developed such a contentious relationship that by the 1990s they were overheard threatening each other on stage between songs. Glenn eventually had Don fired from the band business, Eagles Ltd. Soon after Don sued the corporation for breach of contract. If we had ever seen them in concert, we would have never known they were struggling inside. It seemed like that these two artists rarely saw eye to eye on their business matters the way did with their compositions.

While the band was producing Top 40 hits and touring, they were hiding their betrayals in plain sight. They smiled at the crowds and produced memorable arrangements, then sang the most beautiful of harmonies. The sweet lyrics on their 1974 iconic hit, “Best of my love,” insists that the singer is a devoted lover. But the band members’ issues were not in any lack of effort, rather they were in a lack of forgiveness and compassion from the heart. By 1975 the band finally expressed in music the way to tell how someone who says I love you is not being honest about their feelings. Have we ever been the person who caused heartbreak for another? Is it very easy to hide our feelings from the person who believes in the growth of our relationship when we have virtually given up on that same promise?

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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. 

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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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