MarsEarth

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


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Talents, Minas, and Investments

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Once upon a time there was some Money

There is an ancient story about a lonely leader, a business-smart person with an enormous and profitable household. There was a lot of money being made because of wise investments. The accountants said, “We are in the BLACK.”  The bankers said, “This household is GOLDEN.”  The creditors said, “This the best example of a GREEN enterprise.”

So, fittingly, the lonely household owner said,” So, what? I can’t sleep with all this cash and goods. I want someone to share it with. Maybe even start a family. I will go to the great metropolis and find me a spouse.”

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #40

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

It is easy to be excited by someone else. Their look, their aura, or even the sound of
their voice. In the same way we can watch a person declare their love to another and
be repulsed by that, especially if that love is untrue or secretly promised to someone else. Why does love have to be so complicated? For many of us love either works out great or love causes a big mess.

For the ever-changing San Francisco rock band, Journey, love is the source of most of
their successes and ironically the reason they changed singers in the 1990s. It all began when lead vocalist Steve Perry joined the group in 1976. At that time the band’s futuristic sound would change direction and most assuredly love would be the dominant song topic.

Steve collaborated on compositions with band members Neal Schon, Ross Valory, and Gregg Rollie. They had co-written 17 songs by the time the “Evolution” album was
recorded in 1978. Keeping the pulse of the band throughout the changes was drummer Steve Smith. Most of the recordings exuded happy beats evoking feelings of devotion and the occasional heartbreak of separation.

Steve had been inspired by a Sam Cooke tune which professed undying love. The lyrics for Steve’s new work however, showcased love that had gone real bad. What should we do if the person we love pushes us away, or cheats on us? We can find some comfort in what goes around usually comes back around. Continue reading


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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #41

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

What does it mean to be “in a mood“? We can feel energetic, snippy, feisty, leery, paranoid, ticklish, and sometimes mellow. Maybe it has to do with our feelings when we hear someone’s voice. Maybe it has something to do with the song that plays inside our minds over and over when we wake up to a new day. With music it can be the sound of a church organ or a clarinet or a bass drum that resonates and causes a reaction.

When British poet Keith Reid got an invitation from Gary Brooker (formerly of The Paramounts) to write the lyrics, it was for a new band with a progressive approach to rock music. Gary decided the new group would have new band members Matthew Fisher, Ray Royer, Robin Trower, Bobby Harrison, and David Knights. The band manager decided on a perplexing name for the band – Procul Harum. It was the breeding monicker of a friends’s Burmese cat, modified to sound familiar.The name Procul Harum invoked all kinds of reaction when spoken by deejays on the radio.

Keith knew his lyrics were novel. Gary and Matthew were hopeful that the music would be a worthy and interesting complement to the unique subject matter. Their new composition was just quirky enough to capture our imagination as a counterculture anthem. Plus, it subtly introduced a new metaphor into our collective consciousness. Sad and lonely are powerful feelings.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #42

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

We only have two choices in life: give up or survive. Even when we find ourselves trapped, the only way out is to visualize and plan our next move.  That, or give in and play the part we are forced into. But we all know that our souls are more valuable than we can ever realize. It is an impossible situation for women and children being trafficked for sex or worse.

These themes are not such heavy topics for rock and roll. Blues composers have written songs that alluded to drug addictions, murder or crimes against the innocent. For the American rock group Aerosmith writing songs about people they met while on the road was a way of acknowledging their experiences and things gone wrong.

In 1974 Joey Kramer, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Steven Tyler had just released their second album in the same number of years. The songs  for their third studio album, Toys In The Attic, magnified loneliness, vengeance, gut-wrenching sorrow, boredom, and even physical abuse like only a rock and roll band could. The beats and fuzz guitars kept you interested in learning the words. One song in particular expressed despair about an abused woman like no other song could.

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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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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #44

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

Prince is an American musician and songwriter and performer and the only person in the world who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol (the love symbol). What nerve. What an inspiration. What creativity! What was he thinking?

People like this can drive us nuts. Sometimes it is out of envy. Other times, could it be that we compare our lives to theirs?  While Prince was largely successful in the music industry, he was in a lot of pain in his personal life.

In 1984 Albert Magnoli, the director of the highly successful Purple Rain film, had asked Prince to write an additional song for a scene. The song was to be rooted in parental problems and a love affair.

The original dance track reached the  #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1984. Fans felt the pain of the lyrics throughout its upbeat tempo. Continued career success launched Prince into the #27 position on the Rolling Stone Magazine List of 100 Greatest Artists. But, according to news reports he was nursing an opioid addiction. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #45

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

They know you and all your habits: Those closest to you; Your family; Your best friends; work acquaintances; Classmates and even those at your favorite restaurant. Sooner or later they can get on your nerves.

Asking too many questions. Accidentally bumping into you on your worst day. Looking at you funny when you are grumpiest. This could be you.

For George Harrison of The Beatles, this was happening all too often in 1968. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and John Lennon didn’t get along with George or each other. The Fab Four were not Rock gods, just Human.

When things get weird with those closest to you, it is okay to reach out to a friend outside the group.  For George it was Eric Clapton. George was into the Chinese I Ching.  This is a cosmological and philosophical way of explaining that all things happen for a reason. George thought if he asked Eric to play on his song then what was meant to be would be for the recording.

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