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Lyr Req: Scorpion Departs But Never Returns (Ochs)

19 Oct 98 - 10:57 PM (#42462)
Subject: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Barry Finn

There were a couple of inquiries about songs of subs in a few recent threads, so I went back to an old thread 'Steel Tubs & Subs' & Rich r mentioned the thresher song by Phil Ochs & another song which I somehow passed on by , it's about another sub that went down in 1968, the USS Scorpion & he has it by the name of "The Scorpion Departs & Never Returns". Does anyone have words or any info to the song, this was the sub my brother served on & by God's luck, missed it's last run. Like the Thresher, she took down all hands. Thanks to all. Barry

Also see The Thresher (Phil Ochs)

19 Oct 98 - 11:13 PM (#42464)
From: Joe Offer

By Phil Ochs

Capo IV
Finger pick the verses, strum chorus

Sailors climb the tree, up the terrible tree
Where are my shipmates have they sunk beneath the sea?
I do not know much, but I know this cannot be
It isn't really, it isn't really,
Tell me it isn't really.

Sounding bell is diving down the water green
Not a trace, not a toothbrush, not a cigarette was seen
Bubble ball is rising from a whisper or a scream
But I'm not screaming, no I'm not screaming,
Tell me I'm not screaming.

C Bb
Captain will not say how long we must remain
C Am Dm7
The phantom ship forever sail the sea
It's all the same.

Captain my dear Captain we're staying down so long
I have been a good man, I've done nobody wrong
Have we left our ladies for the lyrics of a song?
That I'm not singing, I'm not singing
Tell me I'm not singing

The schooner ship is sliding across the kitchen sink
My son and my daughter they won't know what to think
The crew has turned to voting and the officers to drink
But I'm not drinking, no I'm not drinking
Tell me I'm not drinking

Captain will not say how long we must remain
The phantom ship forever sail the sea
It's all the same.

The radio is begging them to come back to the shore
All will be forgiven, it'll be just like before
All you've ever wanted will be waiting by your door
We will forgive you, we will forgive you
Tell me we will forgive you

But no one gives an answer not even one goodbye
Oh, the silence of their sinking is all that they reply
Some have chosen to decay and other chose to die
But I'm not dying, no I'm not dying
Tell me I'm not dying

Captain will not say how long we must remain
The phantom ship forever sail the sea
It's all the same.

19 Oct 98 - 11:21 PM (#42465)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Dale Rose

Go here

and here

for information on the Scorpion. I was able to get it so quickly, because just yesterday, I was looking up information on the submarine my brother was on during WWII, The USS Blower. It also went down with all hands, but well after the war in 1953 in the service of the Turkish Navy.

19 Oct 98 - 11:34 PM (#42467)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Joe Offer

click here to get to the Phil Ochs site where I found the Scorpion lyrics, along with many others. I have to say I have mixed feelings about Phil. My kids think I'm really cool because I have two Phil Ochs CD's, which means that I must like him. Well....I'm not sure I do. Deep in my heart of hearts, there's a voice that says words like "strident" and "whiny" when the thought of Phil comes along. There are a lot of Phil Ochs songs that I just don't understand. I used to blame that on my own inadequacy, but not I'm starting to think that it's the songs that are beyond understanding. I realize this besmirches my reputation as a 60's folkie liberal, but I gotta be honest.
There are many Phil Ochs songs that I like - but there are many more Phil Ochs songs that I simply cannot stand. Sorry kids. I was planning to have you support me in my golden years, but I guess this statement means that you'll disinherit me.
-Joe Offer-

20 Oct 98 - 05:15 AM (#42488)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Roger in Baltimore


There is no accounting for personal taste. Phil had a unique voice (you could love it or hate it) and much of his music seems to be written for that voice.

Phil was seldom subtle in his music, so perhaps strident fits. Clearly, Phil's focus was the message first and the music second.

Another adjective that comes to my mind as I think on Phil Ochs is "haunting." Perhaps due to his obvious love of minor chords. Certainly some of his music haunts my memory. "Too Many Martyrs" and "There But For Fortune" are two that pop up right at this moment.

His first two albums are classics. I confess to little attraction to his later work, but his early work does not confuse me at all. What do you find hard to understand?

Roger in Baltimore

20 Oct 98 - 06:11 AM (#42493)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Joe Offer

His later work is the stuff I don't like, Roger. Of course, I like "Changes" and "There but For Fortune" and "Draft Dodger Rag" and "Love Me I'm a Liberal," and especially "When I'm Gone." And "Highwayman" and "Crucifixion" are indeed haunting, although I prefer to hear them sung by other voices, not by Phil. "Scorpion" is one song I don't like at all, but there are many others I don't like. Still and all, his good ones are really good, but my kids would be disappointed about the ones I don't like. They think of Phil Ochs as the Billy Bragg of the 1960's.
-Joe Offer-

20 Oct 98 - 09:25 PM (#42594)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: rich r

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

20 Oct 98 - 10:47 PM (#42606)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Craig

Ik'm with Joe. It's the early ones that I appreciate the most.


20 Oct 98 - 11:30 PM (#42610)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: BSeed

Rich--a wonderful tribute to a songwriter I'd respect even if he had written nothing other than "The Draft Dodger Rag." Until you listed them, I'd forgotten how many other of his songs I love. --seed

21 Oct 98 - 07:09 PM (#42713)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Greg F.

Phil Ochs as "the Billy Bragg of the 60's"? Think you may have that the wrong way round & that Bragg might agree. "Short shelf life" is the lot of many topical songs based on current events; aside from Ochs & Paxton, the same could be said for some of the works of Dick Fariņa, Pat Sky, Eric Von Schmidt, Woody Guthrie, & many others. As one of the 'over 50 gang', my feeling (and it is only that) is that Ochs was saying things that needed to be heard at the time and that a good portion of his output is still right on the money. Shame he couldn't be around 25 years after the "Evening with Salvador Allende" concert to see Pinochet arrested & see documents released that confirm the role of Nixon, Kissenger and the CIA in his murder. Thus endeth this polemic. Thanks-

22 Oct 98 - 10:18 PM (#42873)
Subject: RE: Lyrs to a Submarine Song by Phil Ochs?
From: Barry Finn

Thank you to all for responding to this thread. Joe, thanks for the words & cords. I can't read music & I can't do the music post thing of Allan's that you do but I can do the cords on a guitar (can't play it though) enough to maybe get the tune down.
I think most people liked one or two things that Phil did & some liked more, I'd say that was enough to say he was very good. His songs certainly made many sit up & take notice, like it or not. Barry