Mudcat Café message #42594 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7095   Message #42594
Posted By: rich r
20-Oct-98 - 09:25 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Scorpion Departs But Never Returns (Ochs)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
I felt the need to jump in here and try to counter some of the disparagement of Phil Ochs, knowing that all musical tastes are personal. I think Phil was one the most underrated songwriters of the 60's. True, some of his songs were songs of the moment, a category of songs that Tom Paxton refers to as "short shelf life' songs and Paxton should know. That doesn't necessarily dimish the creativity that went into them. There are a goodly number of fine traditional songs that refer to specific moments in history. Over the years I have sung many of Och's songs in different settings. "Crucifixion" and his version of McColl's "Ballad of the Carpenter" in church. The chorus from "Crucifixion" fits in as an alternate chorus in the "Simple Gifts/ Lord of the Dance" combo. Years ago as part of a duo we frequently did the classic "Draft Dodger Rag", Is There Anybody Here", The War Is Over", "Power & Glory", "I Ain't Marching Any MOre" . By myself I have also sung, "The Highwayman", Changes, The Bells, Gas Station Woman, When I'm Gone, White Boots Marching In A Yellow Land, When I'm Gone. Pretty Smart On My Part and probably some others I can't remember right now. Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and Och's "My Kingdom, For A Car" make an excellent environmental medley. Sure there are some fine covers of Ochs material out there. One of my all time favorites in that category is Jim & Jean's version of "Rhythms of Revolution" from their People World album. OK so I'm an Ochs junkie of sorts. I have two of his song books and most of his recordings. I regret not buying a copy of his "Gunfight At Carnegie Hall" album in the early 70's, I haven't run across it since and it remains the empty spot in my collection. Perhaps my affection for Phil derives from the memory of seeing him live that is still imprinted in my neurons. It was Chicago, a Saturday night in April of 1968. Five of us crammed in a VW beetle and took the Eisenhower Expressway from the western suburbs downtown to Orchestra Hall. AS we got closer to Chicago, traffic on the freeway virtually disappeared. It was just us fool kids and a few municipal vehicals, Chicago and Cook County police cars each with 4-6 police in full riot gear. Two days earlier, Maretin Luther King had been killed in Memphis. The west side of Chicago exploded in the aftermath. The scene was like Gordon Lightfoot"s picture of Detroit in "Black Day In July". To the north we could see the glow of flames rising from many fires. Just to the south of the freeway we passed a 10 story building ablaze. The loop was virtually deserted. Our tickets had been in the balcony cheap seats, but there were so few people out that we sat in about the 8th row down front. Phil came out and did a full concert for the 50-75 fools who showed up but you could tell that he was torn between loyalty to the fans the fact that he really didn't want to be there on that particular night. The whole evening was an emotional event on several levels for all of us. I came away with a respect for the professionalism of a young man who was known primarily as a radical agitator. He could easily have cancelled that concert. I feel it was a great loss when succumbed to his personal dispair, fueled in part by his failure to become a crossover rock star like Dylan. Sorry for the rant.

Rich r