MarsEarth

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


Leave a comment

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. 

Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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?

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #11

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

The best part of growing up is finally getting into high school and then graduating. The worst part of growing up is finally getting into high school and then graduating. There are not equal parts of happiness and sadness. There are mostly sad and emotional issues for everybody involved. Going from teenager to adult is not easy. It is how we react to those situations that either force us to be “just like everyone else” or cause us to invent our own kind of “normal.” Most of us have looked in the mirror and wanted to change something about ourselves or our lives. Usually because we have compared ourselves to others, we ended up feeling like we were the ones lacking something. But, high school is a product of where we live. Almost nobody can go to high school in another state, like we can for college. So, it is our neighborhood that determines the social order of our teenage years that we struggle against.

Fighting the forces of hormones, emotion, social cliques and destructively selfish children are the topics that American singer-songwriter Janis Ian (born Janis Eddy Fink) wrote about in her early career. Janis was born in New York and cut her teeth in the folk music scene during 1960s as a teenager. Her first hit was “Society’s Child” and it made it to #13 on the Cash Box Pop Singles chart in 1965.  As a performer she took on quite a bit as a 14 year old.  That song’s focus was interracial romance.  The reality of social pressures from parents and schoolmates forced the girl to end her relationship in the song.

Not being able to “deal with the pressure” is not a failing of any young person who wants to have a friendship or something more meaningful with another person. Janis decided to speak about this in her music. After releasing several unranked songs that achieved critical acclaim, she ultimately wrote a song that struck the most sensitive nerve with young women (even to this day). She composed a song that unreservedly pointed to the cruel way  in which young women were and still are treated poorly by insensitive boys. She also exposed most young women’s secret misgiving, that they feel ugly because they are not accepted by those same selfish people and their high school peers.

Life is what we make it. So, if it is a struggle, we either gear up and learn to push back, or we just go along to get along. Either way, we make an active choice to get from 9th grade into 12th grade. This can be a skill that translates into surviving adult society’s pressures. But, why should we only survive in this world when we can live the way we want and love ourselves in the process?

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #12

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Who is the one to say ‘this is how it is’ in a relationship ?  You or me? Eventually we will decide which one of us is going to be the leader. When dealing with feelings, it is true that one person loves more than the other.  That does not mean love is not worth the price we pay. But, we all know Human beings take advantage of this position in order to tease (both meanly and playfully), to critique and even to humiliate. It gets worse when the proverbial pot is calling the kettle black.

The American rock band Staind is made up of Aaron Lewis – lead vocals, Mike Mushok – lead guitar, Johnny April – bass, and Jon Wysocki – drums.  The four formed in 1995 and cut their first album in 1996. Near the end of Year 2000 they were cutting their third album, “Break the Cycle  in a network of  studios from LA to New York City to Miami, Florida. While the band was known for lyrics that were angry and depressing, it was cutting its teeth in a new metal and post-grunge style that expressed the difficulties of relationships. One song in particular highlighted what it feels like when the misgivings of a cruel lover are finally exposed.

The easiest thing to do is to criticize another person. It happens every day on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and every other overly social web that invites comment and controversy. Among our friends we talk about it at work, we engage in it behind the wheel, and raise our voices to our world’s leadership, especially those who lack leadership. What should our attitude be when the one closest to us breaks our hearts with hurtful words and hipocrisy?

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #13

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Ever had a friend that was always putting themselves down? Remember the times we may have done the same thing to ourselves? It is never easy feeling inadequate. This is something we do to ourselves. If others try to tell us how we are wrong, it can make us feel powerless. If we tell ourselves we can’t make the grade, then we are just giving up true power over our own lives. Wanting to be the best we can be can involves being with others. It can get confusing if we think that someone else can make our lives better, just by being close to them.

The English alternative rock band Radiohead kicked off their career with this concept. Band members Colin Greenwood – bass guitar, Jonny Greenwood – guitar and keyboards, Ed O’Brien – guitar and backing vocals, Philip Selway – drums, and Thom Yorke – lead vocals, are all involved in songwriting. Colin has reported that Thom wrote their first hit song while a college student in the late 1980s. Supposedly the lyrics were inspired by a girl that Thom had a crush on. She showed up at one of the band’s early concerts and that was the spark. While in the studio for their first album, the band decided to perform the song for their producers. They were impressed and encouraged the bigwigs at EMI Records to release it as the group’s first single.

The band had some issues with their newfound fame beginning in 1993. Extending their tours in the US and the UK and playing the same songs over and over again.  The group complained that they felt like they were stuck. Being sad, depressed or melancholy is not an easy place to leave. Especially if our own bodies are causing us physical and mental pain.  It is so important to try… to try and get a handle on what we tell ourselves.  Is it true that our inside-the-head game is more important that what’s going on around us?

 

Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #14

Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Sometimes we hear a song in our heads – over and over and over. When happy, it is a great thing. When it is an annoying jingle or an unpleasant phrase, the whole day can be one big distraction. Having a phrase or a command repeat itself is a challenge, especially if it is negative. The issue we have to deal with is when we let bad vibes and self-criticism determine our outlook on life. Letting bad things into our lives is a choice we make.

For the southern California alternative rock group, Awolnation, bringing attention to the fretful ideas in our heads which cause anxiety and worry is almost their trademark. Their songs ask questions: “Can I get an amen?” and “Do you love me?” and “Would you have the courage not to lie?” These are followed by being irresponsible: “Rob from the rich … to dance with the poor.” and “Look at who you’re hating. Now you’re celebrating.” Then,  expressing concern: “We must learn to cope.” and  “You gotta love your life.”

Band members Aaron Bruno, Christopher Thorn, David Amezcua, Hayden Scott and Kenny Carkeet all have had previous experience in a band. Their first studio work together, “Megalithic Symphony” was released in March, 2011.  The group’s subsequent tour helped the album reach #84 in the Billboard 200 Album charts. However, one song in particular did exactly what those pesky phrases in our minds do.  It appeared on the radio and then left. It went A.W.O.L. (absent without leave) so to speak. But then it re-entered radio rotation and climbed the charts to become a Top 40 hit. 

Is it just the nature of Humans to have a psyche that is hyper-critical? Do we often put ourselves down? Should we do that? Today’s culture seems to think there is always someone else to blame and that we are all just victims. How sad are we if we embrace this position of having no control over our own lives? Continue reading


Leave a comment

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #15

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Remember how much fun it was when we were young and met people who would become instant friends? We saw them at the pool or the library or the park. There were many more people to meet at school, but it was not the same as having a close friend living next door or just down the street. So, it was hard if that person ever moved away. Even harder when dating that person and there were any questions of fidelity. The most difficult was being in love with that person who revealed their cruel and shallow soul.

These seem to be the themes of the fifth album released by Paramore, the Franklin, Tennessee, Pop Rock Punk band. Members are guitarist Taylor York, vocalist Hayley Williams and drummer Zac Farro. This album entitled “After Laughter” was co-produced by Taylor and rock music producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen. As of this publishing date, their A side top track, “Hard Times” peaked at the #6 position in the Billboard Hot 100 singles in the Rock Songs category, but is making another run at the top, moving up again from the #29 spot to #27.  The band’s style is reminiscent of Blondie with Deborah Harry‘s skill at singing with an inviting voice over up-tempo beats while delivering pensive and too real lyrics.

I know what you’re thinking.  I am writing about their song “Fake Happy.” It received serious consideration. In the very same way that the honorably mentioned Three Degrees received a review, and it was the happy tune that placed it out of contention – for both songs. For Paramore the song that had the punch and real grit of a sad song was dealing with a very toxic relationship. It was the kind of relationship that makes you cry, that hits you in the face, that makes you want to quit and keep on fighting at the same time.

Why do we put up with a loved one who keeps breaking our heart? Unfortunately, no one knows this answer. Some famous broken-hearted person once said, ‘the heart wants what the heart wants.’ That’s just a lie we tell ourselves when the other person becomes more important than our own identity. So what happens when we do this?

Continue reading