MarsEarth

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


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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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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 – #20

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Holidays used to be about family and friends.  Every business except a few gas stations would close down so that we could be contemplative. This was the time for focusing on faith and the less fortunate. Most holidays are still big travel intervals. Years ago it was because relatives would go back home to visit their parents. These days we are encouraged to stay at home instead of going away to see family. To have a ‘stay-cation’ and populate the malls. To make money. To get into debt. There is no real cheer on this present path.

Christmas and Chanukkah usually occur about the same time each year. Mostly in December.  The stress of getting ready for this season is particularly intensified when our hopes run high in the event we can visit with a special person in the family.  All those anxieties can be relieved when that travelling person finally graces our door. That can be the most appreciated gift of all. Just having someone who wants to be with you is a treasure. American blues singer and pianist Charles Brown understood this when he was inspired to write a song about this holiday season. He even put out an entire album called “Charles Brown Sings Christmas Songs” in 1960. This particular song he co-wrote with Gene Redd.

The song’s popularity got only as far as #76 on the Billboard Hot 100 and only in its second year, 1961. But radio fans new a hit when they heard it and the song reappeared on the Top 40 Singles charts every December for nine years in a row. It finally hit the #1 spot in 1972. The lyrics beg the question of how long it might take for that loved one to appear.

But not until 1978 when the rock band Eagles covered the track, did the song regain its popularity. The band released it as an A side  holiday single. This rendition was the first Christmas song since Roy Orbison’sPretty Paper” in 1963 to have made it into the Top 20.  When Don Henley (drums/vocals), Glenn Frey (piano, backing vocals), Don Felder (lead guitar) and Joe Walsh (guitar, backing vocals) released the song, they had Timothy B. Schmit on bass (who replaced founding member Randy Meisner).  Their version made it to the #18 spot in the U.S.  It also was a Top 40 hit in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and New Zealand.

Why is it so important to reconnect with family? Is it primal or something we have learned to do? Why do we feel the need to connect with others, even when it is not a holiday or special occasion?

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