MarsEarth

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


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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 – #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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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #37

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

What do we want? What do we want out of life? It is easy to ask for material things. It is hopeful to ask for lofty goals such as peace and an end to hunger. In our personal lives each of was wants to be appreciated, especially by those closest to us.  It is hard to be apart from a loved one who really “gets” us. And even harder if we are in military service and that person is far away. What if that person is suddenly no longer with us?

In 1953 the United States had just brokered a peace to end the Korean Conflict and establish a permanent military presence there, then send many servicewomen and servicemen home. Just four years later the Congress revved up its political nerve and industrial production to fight communism in Vietnam. During this time, Elvis Aaron Presley (1935-1977) AKA Elvis, was conscripted in the US Army. He served honorably as a regular soldier from training in  Fort Hood, Texas, until his final deployment in the 3rd Armored Division in Friedberg, Germany.

His managers carefully released previous recordings during his two-year service tour. All went as planned until his mother Gladys died from hepatitis before his discharge. Elvis spent his first holiday season without his closest ally and best friend. It took him a few years to grieve. He re-released his version of a song that represented a difficult memory. Sometimes we just need to wrap our heads around the issue.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #43

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

We know people who are born into a family of artists or writers. Others are born into military and service families with generations of protectors of the everyday person.  What seems to be more common than not is being in a family that struggles to make ends meet. We know people who “have” and people who “have not.”

It seems generational poverty is a difficult place to escape. Even Elvis Aaron Presley, one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th Century, had very humble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Our “King of Rock and Roll” was born to a father who was not a consistent provider as the family depended on neighbors for assistance.

For Elvis song writing was shaped early on in his lean years. Elvis was inspired by Mississispi Slim (Carvel Lee Ausborn) and his musical stylings. Slim was a hillbilly/ country music singer who hosted a radio show in Tupelo. Elvis got to know Slim who gave Elvis his first big break.

Stardom often fades. From 1956 through 1965, Elvis music career seemed to peak. But in 1968 Elvis was introduced to this song by Mac Davis which called attention to a young man with no hope, no money, and no way to un-break his mother’s heart.

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