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

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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 – #38

by Lawrence J. J, Leonard

Ever have the perfect day? Wake up early and head out to the mall? Or just listen to some music? Maybe go to a favorite restaurant with friends, but when you turn around, there stands that person you used to have a steady relationship with. You can’t get  them back. It just kinda hurts inside to see them again.

This is not a familiar heart pang –  the same as when we fall in love with someone. Many times the hurt comes from recalling the breakup and what we went through during and after the separation. Did we let go? Did we move on?

By 1974 American singer-songwriter Paul Davis (1948-2008) had five years of music industry ups and downs. He was mostly a country cross-over artist. His nationally known  “Ride ’em Cowboy” song peaked at #23 and was a Top 40 favorite that same year. By 1976 some other type of music was weighing heavily on his mind.

Paul looked inward. Hel decided to write about what it was like to love someone deeply. Soon he came up with the idea to sing about seeing an old flame after ending the relationship. According to original American Top 40 show host Casey Kasem, Paul begged his studio to let R&B singer Lou Rawls publish the song. Paul knew it would be a sure hit. Studio execs saw how invested Paul was in the song’s success. They decided to release Paul’s studio demo version as a single. Everyone sympathizes with love lost.

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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