Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #47

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

Deep seeded memories can be as happy as hugs, kisses, laughter, smells, and compassion. Alternatively, we can sustain images of cruelty, neglect or harmful incidents.
This was the mindset of Americans after the Civil War (1861-1865) digging the graves of honorable veterans. Our grandparents and great-grandparents and their forebears were devastated and torn apart by violent conflict in this land we call home.

Canadian composer Robbie Robertson and his music project, The Band, took the view that this aspect of America’s homegrown war deserved a closer look. Robbie had been working on the song with founding band member Levon Helm in Woodstock.

They researched the Union Army’s “Stoneman Raids” and developed a song about Virgil. It is from this poor southerner’s perspective that the 1969 ballad expressed the sadness of a citizen crushed by the might of his own countrymen’s military fury.

The sorrowful lament was unranked when The Band released the record. It was thoughtfully re-released as a cover by American folk singer Joan Baez in 1971. War is hell.

Continue reading

In Memoriam: Gregg Allman

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Rest in Peace: Gregory Lenoir “Gregg” Allman (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017). Gregg, an American musician, singer and songwriter, began his career in southern rock with his brother, Duane Allman, Berry Oakley, Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson,  Dickey Betts,  Butch Trucks, and Reese Wynans. The group took the name The Allman Brothers Band and broke ground in 1969 as the first rock and roll group with two lead guitars and two drummers.

The Allman Brothers Band began to reach mainstream success by the early 1970s, with their first live album “At Fillmore East.This was the first ever live album released by an American rock and roll group. It was certified platinum in 2004. Continue reading

Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #48

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

More than 2,500 years ago Greek story writer Aesop used fables to illustrate new perspectives. This allowed the audience to walk in “another’s shoes.” The ‘Boys and Frogs’ fable explains how some hell-raising boys decided to hurl stones at a small army of pond frogs for the fun of it.

This causes one of the frogs to raise its head and say,” I beg you stop, boys. What is sport to you is death to us.” The moral is “one person’s pleasure can be another’s pain.” This happened to the British progressive rock band Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP).

 

Accordingly, Keith Emerson really did not want to release the late edition Greg Lake track. Greg had composed the song when he was only 12 years old. The lyrics celebrated a man whose fortune came with a high price.

Drummer Carl Palmer had to engineer the acoustic rendition and develop the recording with layers of sound in an effort to capture its “minstrel” feel.

Continue reading

Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #49

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Sometimes longing for something that is dead and gone is a sad memory and not regret. Feeling love for someone who does not want to love you (anymore) is a kind of pain that just cannot be quantified. Loving deeply can hurt your heart just like sadness sometimes.

Early in 1970 Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger had been working with American singer, songwriter, guitarist, and pianist Ingram Cecil Connor III (AKA Gram Parsons of The Byrds). Parsons is best known as a country music genius who may have well been the ‘father’ of Southern-fried rock. The two of them hashed out a song that Jagger says could have been about his newly ended love interest Marianne Faithfull. She was one of the lead female artists during the musical “British Invasion ” in America.

Continue reading

Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #50

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

The countdown begins with one of the most curious songs eliciting empathy and confusion at the same time. While many lament the loss of a loved one, sometimes that loved one is a pet. We all know that connections with creatures can be very comforting and deserve to be recognized as true and an important part of the Human experience.

In 1975 songwriter Henry Gross became aware of the death of Shannon, the pet Irish Setter of Beach Boys member Carl Wilson. The loss inspired Henry to create. The song “Shannon” became an international hit, reaching #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on Cash Box Top 100. This type of sorrowful homage is not often expressed but is a legitimate reason that we grieve. Continue reading

Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – Honorable Mention

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

Hi,
I was recently inspired to examine modern music as an expression of depression in mental health. In pop, rock, and rhythm & blues music the themes are troubled relationships and separation, among a host of others. A song’s melody evokes feeling, too. For the next few weeks I will rank the saddest songs of the rock and roll genre.

I gave weight to the tune, chord progression, melancholy overtones, and the agony in which the singers performed a sorrowful rendition. For some listeners this is a way of acknowledging a depressed state, while others identify with the lyrics or situation.

Continue reading