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Origins: No More Songs (Phil Ochs) - Meaning

01 Oct 17 - 07:12 AM (#3879584)
Subject: Lyr Add: NO MORE SONGS (Phil Ochs)
From: Daniel Kelly

So I have been recording a few Phil Ochs covers and had avoided this one because it so sadly talks to his depression and the likely cause of his suicide just 6 years after it was released.

The lyrics are fairly cryptic and I wondered if anyone here might know who Phil is referring to in each verse?

No More Songs ? Phil Ochs

Hello, hello, hello, is there anybody home
I've only called to say I'm sorry
The drums are in the dawn, and all the voices gone
And it seems that there are no more songs

Once I knew a girl, she was a flower in a flame
I loved her as the sea sings sadly
Now the ashes of the dream can be found in the magazines
And it seems that there are no more songs

Once I knew a sage who sang upon the stage
He told about the world, his lover
A ghost without a name stands ragged in the rain
And it seems that there are no more songs

The rebels they were here, they came beside the door
They told me that the moon was bleeding
Then all to my surprise, they took away my eyes
And it seems that there are no more songs

A star is in the sky, it's time to say goodbye
A whale is on the beach, he's dying
A white flag in my hand and a white bone in the sand
And it seems that there are no more songs


The verse about the moon and rebels reminds me of 'The Rising of the Moon', but the only traditional song I know that Phil recorded was 'The Highwayman'.

"Took away my eyes" - pepper spray at the 1968 Democratic convention?

Is the sage on the stage Phil, or maybe Bob?

I've heard it said that this was a song about writers block, but I don't buy it.


03 Oct 17 - 02:20 AM (#3879939)
Subject: RE: Origins: No More Songs by Phil Ochs - Meaning
From: GUEST,Gerry

Wish I could help you figure out No More Songs, but all I can do is reply to "the only traditional song I know that Phil recorded was 'The Highwayman'." That was not a traditional song; it was a poem by Alfred Noyes, and not a song at all until Ochs set it to music.


03 Oct 17 - 09:11 AM (#3880018)
Subject: RE: Origins: No More Songs by Phil Ochs - Meaning
From: Rapparee

There was CS tear gas at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Pepper spray hadn't been invented yet.

Look at his contemporaries for the references to people.


08 Oct 17 - 01:14 AM (#3880907)
Subject: RE: Origins: No More Songs by Phil Ochs - Meaning
From: Daniel Kelly

Thanks Gerry, I guess I set my 'trad' benchmark as anything pre WWII, even if it has only been set to music recently. I know Highwayman from Loreena McKennitt's Book of Secrets album in 1997, which I think is set to her own melody. The poem had actually been set to music in 1914 by Deems Taylor and in 1933 by Cecil Gibbs. I can't find an online recording so don't know if they have any connection to more recent adaptations.

Thanks Rapparee, I had suspected that pepper spray was a new invention. After being exposed to CS gas in training, I should have remembered that that was in use in the 60's.


08 Oct 17 - 10:18 PM (#3881041)
Subject: RE: Origins: No More Songs by Phil Ochs - Meaning
From: GUEST,Gerry

Daniel, thanks. The Taylor setting was a "cantata for baritone solo, chorus of mixed voices and orchestra", and the score is available at the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music Sibley Music Library website, https://urresearch.rochester.edu/institutionalPublicationPublicView.action?institutionalItemId=24784


23 Feb 19 - 08:54 PM (#3978639)
Subject: RE: Origins: No More Songs (Phil Ochs) - Meaning
From: Daniel Kelly

Hi Gerry, sorry to be so late seeing this. Just learned to use the 'trace' feature. I played a few of the parts form this score on piano, nothing at all like Phil's version.