MarsEarth

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


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Unspoken questions

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

She sees you cruising
on the street

and wonders
how you got there

as she is dodging
traffic and jeers

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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #34

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

We live in a place where people are in despair. They suffer in public. Sometimes we see them hurting and we reach out with water, change, advice, or a meal. Other times we just concentrate on getting as far away as possible.

For English singer-songwriter Phil Collins, the thrust of his music is more than painting pictures with words. He describes realistic and stark scenes. Sometimes they have happy but complicated endings with upbeat rhythms. Other times the music is eerie and the lyrics hurt to hear. For Phil the prospect of having an encounter with a homeless man, as described in the 1982 release by his former band, Genesis, was a Top 40 sensation in America.  The song “Man on the Corner” saw a person down on his luck and with no place to go,  It had an “I see him” kind of detached feel.

Unfortunately, just like every other music artist who puts his/ her politics in front of the audience, the critics rightfully invoked the “hypocrisy label” on Phil because his wealth was being used as he called on  everyone else to act. As if singing about homelessnes is supposed to be a socially conscious and caring contribution. It is however quite lucrative for a musician.

Phil understood this formula and altered his lyrics for a song that ended up as the first track on the B-side of his fourth solo album, “. . .But Seriously.” It was a poignant description of a homeless woman’s plight. Phil’s tone and melody bring a an aura of shame and sadness to the radio. While singing along has caused us to convict ourselves of not doing enough. It is easy to feel sympathy for anyone who truthfull lives in the streets. It is hard to spring into action for each person’s need is as unique as their fingerprints.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #35

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

We communicate with our body position, with our eyes, and even when we do nothing at all. We can send signals of ‘yes’ with a wink and a signal of ‘no’ with that same wink. We write notes but these days we write electronic messages which are not as personal. Some things that we wish to say we don’t say because there can be no good outcome. This was not the personal philosophy of the leader of one of Rock and Roll’s most successful bands Van Halen whose communication style was inadequate.

Eddie Van Halen the lead guitarist formed the band in Pasadena, California, with brother and drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Michael Anthony, and from 1973 to 1985 vocalist David Lee Roth. The band has been riddled with controversy following the exits of David Lee, Sammy Hagar, and Michael. Each one complained that Eddie had problems taking seriously the business of the band. They said he did not talk about his alcohol abuse but finally went into rehab in 2007. Some have a hard time accepting fame and the changes it brings.

Early on, Van Halen’s self-titled debut album was essentially a live-to-tape production in 1977. Their touring garnered fans nation-wide. The following year when the album was released radio gave America what it was hoping for, rock theme songs such as “Runnin’ with the Devil” and “Feel Your Love Tonight.” But one song with heavy metal overtones lamented the hopes and dreams of a young girl in love.

Fans were intrigued by this melancholy tune with a dance beat which was released as a single just two months after the album was in the stores. Critics used the opportunity to  proclaim the band doomed to failure in the same way they declared an early end for British electric blues band Led Zeppelin. The song decries the power of lust tempered by the choice of reason and a personal letter not sent.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #36

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

We have heard cries for help from little children who got their feelings hurt. Some pleas may have come from colleagues, peers or friends who needed money, more time to fix a problem, or even a little emotional support. It is not always easy to ask for someone to care about our issues much less a crisis. So, we live in fear that the one we ask will say ‘no.’

In 1970 Pete Townsend of the British rock band The Who was writing songs for the band’s fifth album. Pete was on tour with lead singer Roger Daltrey, bass player John Entwistle, and drummer Keith Moon in Denver, Colorado. Rumor has it that  Roger encountered a spiritual conflict as he turned down a romp with a groupie. He then went back to his hotel room alone. Because he followed the enlightenment teachings of Meher Baba, Roger wrote down his wishes to make himself a better person. The words called on the divine force to help him keep true to his beliefs.

When Pete heard about it, he collaborated with Roger on setting the experience to music. The two of them recorded a first version of the song at the Record Plant in New York in March, 1971. The band recorded a second version at Olympic Studios in London which took nearly three months to complete it. Sometimes we have to do something over and over until we get it right.

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Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #39

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

No matter if we are famous or the quiet type, we fail ourselves and fail others from time to time. Psychologists say we should forgive ourselves for our faults and try to not repeat the same mistakes. They also insist that when we ask for forgiveness from others it is a sign we are taking responsibility for our actions. Receiving that forgiveness we beg for from a hurt loved one is another topic for a different day.

Claude Russell Bridges (1942-2016) best known as Leon Russell was an American pianist and musician and songwriter whose career spanned 60 years. He wrote pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel and surf songs in all that time. He also achieved six gold records for some of his works. Leon had been married and divorced three times during these creative days and had fathered six children. He made his share of mistakes in life and in love.

His first break was playing with The Beach Boys. After that gig he composed a self-titled debut album. Leon was mentored by Elton John on this effort and recruited musicians such as Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. At the time Leon was romantically involved with Carla McHenry. She may have been the inspiration for his iconic ballad that seeks forgiveness. Sometimes when we hurt the one we love it cuts deep into our souls, too. What we do about reconciling with the one we hurt can leave an impression on many more peoples’ lives than we had planned on. Continue reading