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 – #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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The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #30

by Lawrence J. J. Leonard  (WARNING: adult content)

That’s it! I quit!

We hear you. We’ve all been there at some point hoping to get out of a bad situation. It really takes a lot of bad news to break off a relationship. When it is over, though, it is so over. Usually it is not because of one misunderstanding nor a string of them. The reasons to break up with somebody abruptly can be anything from not being appreciated to cheating and lying. The feeling of hurt mixed with anger is not an easy process to wade through.

One of America’s most eclectic musicians and songwriters who is able to articulate this feeling is David Bromberg. His musical tastes run the gamut. They are as varied as the many musicians he has played with.  These include:  Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen, Jerry Garcia, Rusty Evans, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt, Los Lobos, John Hiatt, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. David’s virtuoso guitar style is featured on 18 solo albums. Although his roots are based in folk music, his songs reflect his life and times. So, what was it that made him so determined to separate from a girlfriend that inspired his iconic break-up song?

David got an idea for the 1976 album “How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?” and it involved a big split – but in a good way. The album is a two record / two CD collectors item. The first is a studio session collection of humorous songs. David shows off his guitar blues skill. The second includes his break-up rendition. David must have come face to face with a really unfaithful person. We can feel lost and betrayed when the one who loves us shares their affection with someone else.

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