Monthly Archives: June 2012

Automation Song

Automation Song

“Though its history is brief, automation already has its own folklore”

(Time magazine, March 1956)

The term “automation” is thought to derive from Delmar S. Harder, a plant manager for General Motors, as Science Clarified’s website explains;

“In 1946, Delmar S. Harder devised one of the earliest such systems to automate the manufacture of car engines at the Ford Motor Company. The system involved an element of thinking: the machines regulated themselves, without human supervision, to produce the desired results. Harder’s assembly-line automation produced one car engine every 14 minutes, compared with the 21 hours if had previously taken human workers.”

Automation also took on a wider meaning too, covering, according to Robert Macmillan in his study of Automation from 1956;  “any process in which the lower functions of a human operator – both physical and mental – are taken over by self acting devices”.

As far as Macmillan and General Motors were concerned, this was progress. Macmillan quotes Walter Reuther, then President of the CIO (The Congress for Industrial Organisations) who saw many positives of the dawning of this new automated age;

“Economic abundance is now within our grasp if we but have the good sense to use our resources and technology, fully and effectively, within a framework of economic policies that are morally right and socially responsible”.

With even the head of one of the major trade unions was giving his support (albeit with caveats) to automation, dissenting voices seemed scarce. Time magazine of March 1956 – in an article headlined Robot Machines Are Cutting Costs, Boosting Profits and Making Jobs, Bringing More Leisure To Everyone” – quotes M.I.T professor Norbert Wiener, who in 1950 stated that automation would reduce manual workers to “slave labor” and cause an economic crash that would make “the Depression of the ‘30’s seem like a pleasant joke”. By 1956 Time quotes Wiener saying that automation was now “increasing man’s leisure” and “enriching his spiritual life”.

A decade later a report into the effects of automation by Steven Deutsch found that “some formerly optimistic notes have become muted with pessimism and concern…although the evidence seems to deny that automation is the single major factor underlying unemployment, technological changes have induced structural unemployment in industries such as coal mining, steel and railroads”.

The study found that while only 8% of respondents stated that they believed their jobs were threatened by automation, 51% believed that a consequence of automation would be unemployment and a similar number also believed that unemployment was a price worth paying for the benefits of automation (supposedly so long as it was somebody else that was losing their job.)

In Hazard, Kentucky, the mine owners response to new technologies and automation was to threaten the mine workers with low wages or risk being replaced by machines or the closure of their financially unviable mines. Hazard was already a region blighted by poverty and relied heavily on the mines for employment. Beginning in 1962 the mine workers of Hazard began protesting against the unfair terms being forced on them by the mine owners, leading to violent clashes with strikebreakers and heavily armed security personnel employed by the mine owners. In the summer of 1963 eight of the miners, including Berman Gibson, were arrested for conspiring to blow up a railroad bridge. Calling the strike unofficial the United Mine Workers’ Union refused to come to the aid of the eight, leading to calls for support from elsewhere. By the end of 1963 the Hazard strike had become a cause celebre amongst leftists. Gibson went on a speaking tour to raise awareness of the cause, telling all who would listen that “I was too strong a union man for the United Mine Workers…all we askin’ for is justice – men just shouldn’t have to live this way”.

In March 1963 the Committee for Miners was established, with whom Arthur Gorson (who would later become Phil’s manager) helped organise benefit concerts in New York and tours of Hazard with groups of activists and singers. Phil appeared at such an event in November 1963 and opened with Automation Song, “a striking picture of the working men who have built America and now walk down a jobless roads” (according to Josh Dunson in Broadside #36).  According to Danny Schechter, what the Hazard strike represented wasn’t simply the coming together of disparate, leftist forces to support a wildcat strike, but a more fundamental call to tackle the real “enemies within”;

“widespread deprivation, a stagnant economy unable to provide for those most in need, local systems of justice oblivious to constitutional rights, and a labor movement hamstrung by an approach to social and economic problems grounded in traditional and outmoded assumptions and practices”.

Considering such a heavy subject matter,  that has echoed from the Luddites in 19th Century England to season two of The Wire, Automation Song has a rather jaunty tune, with the only moment of poetry (“And now the roads are there like ribbons in the sky”) jarringly placed somewhat amidst the rather prosaic lyric. Of course as a song it’s nothing special, but in that typical Phil Ochs way it’s a rather nice, well intentioned nothing special, and rather more sympathetic in tone than his bossy That’s What I Want To Hear (“And you tell me that your job was taken away by a big ol’ greasy machine”). Then again Phil’s protest songs were always at their most biting when he was angry, and with Automation Song he just doesn’t seem angry enough.

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The Bells

The Bells – by Edmund Dulac

“One of the finest folk songwriters around

 today is, of course, Edgar Allan Poe..”

 – Phil Ochs, Swarthmore, 1964

The Bells 

Edgar Allan Poe was born plain old Edgar Poe in Boston, MA in January 1809, the son of actors whose reputation the young Edgar struggled to shake off. Nothing is known of his father after the year of Edgar’s birth (though he is rumoured to have died sometime in 1810, one of many of Poe’s family to suffer from consumption) and his mother struggled to keep her young family together in his absence for two years before dying in 1811 aged 24.

Poe was taken into the care of a Mr and Mrs John Allan of Richmond, Virginia, though never legally adopted. His relationship with Mr Allan in particular came to help to cause much of the misfortune of Poe’s life. Relatively wealthy the Allan’s afforded Edgar some comfort and decent schooling, both in Virginia and Irvine in Scotland and five years boarding at Stoke Newington in England, where Poe was known as Edgar Allan.

The death of an uncle brought real wealth to Mr Allan, coinciding with a diminishing interest in his foster son. A short time in the University of Virginia at Charlottesville (known at the time as “The Oxford of the New World”) without the financial support of Mr Allan, saw Poe quickly become saddled with debts, exacerbated by gambling and a drink problem supposedly inherited from his father. Unable to pay off his gambling debts he was duly expelled.

His first volume of poetry was published in Boston in 1827, though almost entirely without acclaim nor any income generated.  Indeed, even with acclaim and notoriety that would follow, Poe would struggle to turn such acclaim into a living wage.  Such problems may have encouraged his decision to join the U.S Army where, though he was unwilling to talk nor write about it for much of his life, he was quite a success, staying sober and rising to the rank of Sergeant Major. Tired of Army life and unable to buy himself out, and still without financial support from Mr Allan, his release from the Army saw him further indebted.

After a spell in Baltimore, the city with which he is most associated (The Baltimore Ravens NFL team are named after Poe’s poem ‘The Raven’ and just to be clear, their mascot is a big raven named Poe), he then enlisted for a short spell at West Point Military Academy, where again unhappy and unable to buy himself out got himself expelled through bad behaviour.

The next few years of his life brought real struggle. In a letter to, a by now almost totally uncaring, Mr Allan saw him write “For God’s sake, pity me and save me from destruction”. Poe was left out of Mr Allan’s will when he died in 1834.

In 1833 however Poe won a $50 prize in a short story competition in the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. This stroke of fortune would see the beginning of a career that would bring Poe great acclaim, but little financial reward. Though his talent was obvious, he struggled to find a way to make his talent profitable, a situation made harder by the continued ill health of his wife. During times of intense creativity he was unable to earn a living – his creativity came at a personal price. He seemed particularly adept at growing tired of whatever comfort and financial security he managed to work towards, instead throwing into poverty, heartbreak and some of the greatest story-telling of the 19th century.

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Arthur Hobson Quinn wrote that “the mystery so often associated with Poe’s life and nature is unjustified”. A mythical shroud has come to cover his life, not helped by the mystery surrounding the last week or so with his life. Following the death of his first wife after a long struggle with consumption (a condition that worsened swiftly after bursting a blood vessel whilst singing), he was due to remarry in October 1949. A visit to New York in late September ended with Poe in Baltimore, apparently after taking the wrong train. Six days later he was found in a public house unable to explain his shocking condition. He died a few days later at the age of 40.

Quinn continues that quite apart from the stories that continue to circulate around his life Poe was really just a “hard-working man of letters”. Accounts from friends and colleagues see Poe described variously as “a quiet, patient, industrious, and most gentlemanly person” and “one of the most courteous, gentlemanly, and intelligent companions I have met”. Poe’s fame as a writer of horror-fiction has somehow seeped into the public’s perceptions of him – but his work was not all horrific, and his life was certainly not all drama. Indeed his reputation as a drinker seems harsh considering that he couldn’t handle even smallest amount of alcohol, though that didn’t stop him from trying of course, in part at least to help him cope with his manic-depressive nature (much as Phil Ochs would late in his life). A poem like ‘The Bells’ is testament to the broad nature of his works, and though Poe’s critics would deny it, the power of his poetic talent.

The Bells – by Edmund Dulac

Poe defined poetry as the “Rhythmical Creation of Beauty”, a statement that would have struck a chord with Phil. Poe wrote that “with me, poetry has not been a purpose but a passion”. He may well have had yet more commercial success had he had some luck in his personal life and stayed sober, issues that also dealt a blow to his political ambitions.

Phil wasn’t the first person to set ‘The Bells’ to music (Rachmaninoff’s Opus 35 – ‘Kalokola’, written in 1913, contains Poe’s poem translated into Russian by Konstantin Balmont, albeit loosely) nor would he be the last. The fact that ‘The Bells’ was originally printed as ‘The Bells – a song’ suggests that this is no coincidence.

Wolf Mankowitz’s biography of Poe contains an account of the writing of ‘The Bells’, gleaned from Hervey Allen’s reading of the diary entries of a lady-friend of Poe’s, Marie Louise Shew from early 1848;

“Poe and Mrs Shew retired to a little conservatory overlooking a garden, where they had tea. He complained to his hostess that he had to write a poem, but had no inspiration…while they sat there, the sound of church bells filled the air, and fell almost like a blow of pain on Poe’s hypersensitive ears and jangled nerves. He pushed the paper away saying, ‘I dislike the noise of bells to-night, I cannot write. I have no subject, I am exhausted”. Mrs Shew then wrote on the paper, “The bells, the little, silver bells” – and Poe finished a stanza, again almost relapsing into a state of coma. Mrs Shew then urged him again, beginning a stanza with “The heavy iron bells”. Poe finished two more stanzas…after which he was completely unable to proceed…”

Poe’s original version ran to only 17 lines, later expanded to 112 lines over four verses, first published in Sartain’s Union Magazine of Literature and Art in November 1849, a month after Poe’s death. It one of the last poems Poe would complete. Considering the circumstances of its writing (initially at least) it is a remarkably vibrant poem, based wholly around the utter joy of words, a celebration of  poetry and of the English language itself.

Much like it is a rather surprising piece to come from a writer famed for his gothic horror writing, it is also something of a surprising choice of poem for Phil, famed as he is for his topical protest songs. Phil plays upon this incongruity when he played it in Montreal in October 1966 (captured for posterity as ‘The FBI Tapes’) teasing the audience by saying “one of the finest of the protest writers living today is of course [pause for effect]…Edgar Allan Poe.  Some has gone so far as to call him the ‘Father of the New Left’. But they stopped because he drank too much…We used to sit around and drink a lot, Eddie and I…

Upon reading the full Poe piece, minus Phil’s alterations, it becomes far more typically Poe, with its fourth verse containing lines such as “They are neither man nor woman, They are neither brute nor human, They are Ghouls: And their king it is who tolls” wholly absent from Phil’s adaptation. It would remain part of Phil’s live repertoire right up until 1975, including a memorable version in Vancouver in March 1969 with Allen Ginsberg accompanying Phil on bells.

This would be the first of three poems that Phil would set to music (the others being Alfred Noyes’ The Highwayman and John Rooney’s The Men Behind The Guns, both released on I Ain’t Marching Anymore). All three would be heavily adapted (in the case of The Men Behind The Guns the words actually altered) and all three absolute successes, proving that there was more to Phil than just a singing journalist.

The changes Phil made to his version of The Bells are illustrated below;

‘The Bells’ by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)

1.

Hear the sledges with the bells

Silver bells!

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,

In the icy air of night!

While the stars that oversprinkle

All the heavens, seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

2.

Hear the mellow wedding bells,

Golden bells!

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight!

From the molten-golden notes,

And all in tune,

What a liquid ditty floats

To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats

On the moon!

Oh, from out the sounding cells,

What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!

How it swells!

How it dwells,

On the Future! how it tells

Of the rapture that impels

To the swinging and the ringing

Of the bells, bells, bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,

Bells, bells, bells

To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

3.

Hear the loud alarum bells

Brazen bells!

What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!

In the startled ear of night

How they scream out their affright!

Too much horrified to speak,

They can only shriek, shriek,

Out of tune,

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,

In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,

Leaping higher, higher, higher,

With a desperate desire,

And a resolute endeavor,

Now – now to sit or never,

By the side of the pale-faced moon.

Oh, the bells, bells, bells!

What a tale their terror tells

Of Despair!

How they clang, and clash, and roar!

What a horror they outpour

On the bosom of the palpitating air!

Yet the ear it fully knows,

By the twanging,

And the clanging,

How the danger ebbs and flows,

Yet the ear distinctly tells,

In the jangling,

And the wrangling,

How the danger sinks and swells,

By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells

Of the bells

Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,

Bells, bells, bells

In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

4.

Hear the tolling of the bells

Iron Bells!

What a world of solemn thought their monody

compels!

In the silence of the night,

How we shiver with affright

At the melancholy menace of their tone!

For every sound that floats

From the rust within their throats

Is a groan.

And the people – ah, the people

They that dwell up in the steeple,

All Alone

And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,

In that muffled monotone,

Feel a glory in so rolling

On the human heart a stone

They are neither man nor woman

They are neither brute nor human

They are Ghouls:

And their king it is who tolls;

And he rolls, rolls, rolls,

Rolls

A paean from the bells!

And his merry bosom swells

With the paean of the bells!

And he dances, and he yells;

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the paean of the bells

Of the bells:

Keeping time, time, time,

In a sort of Runic rhyme,

To the throbbing of the bells

Of the bells, bells, bells

To the sobbing of the bells;

Keeping time, time, time,

As he knells, knells, knells,

In a happy Runic rhyme,

To the rolling of the bells

Of the bells, bells, bells:

To the tolling of the bells,

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells

Bells, bells, bells

To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

 

The  Bells by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Phil Ochs (1964)

1.

Hear the sledges with the bells

Silver bells

What a world of merriment their melody foretells

How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle

In the icy air of night

All the heavens seem to twinkle

With a crystalline delight

Keeping time, time, time

With a sort of Runic rhyme

From the tintinnabulation that so musically wells

From the bells, bells, bells, bells,

Bells, bells, bells

From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells

2.

Hear the mellow wedding bells

Golden bells

What a world of happiness their harmony foretells

Through the balmy air of night

How they ring out their delight

Through the dances and the yells

And the rapture that impels

How it swells

How it dwells

On the future

How it tells

From the swinging and the ringing of the molten golden bells

Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,

bells, bells, bells

Of the rhyming and the chiming of the bells

 

 

 

 

 

3.

Hear the loud alarum bells

Brazen bells

What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells

Much too horrified to speak

Oh, they can only shriek

For all the ears to know

How the danger ebbs and flows

Leaping higher, higher, higher

With a desperate desire

In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire

With the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells

With the clamor and the clanging of the bells

 

The Bells – Edmund Dulac

Phil kept in “tintinnabulation” (basically the posh word for bell-ringing) and “monody”( a mournful ode) but skipped the opportunity of singing “euphony” (a pleasing sound) and “expostulation” (to remonstrate or discuss).  It’s not often one would get the chance to sing “In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire”, a line that I would also suppose difficult to fit into Phil’s otherwise wonderfully apt melody.

During that Vancouver show with Ginsberg Phil introduced the song saying; “Certain poems are really songs in disguise. Poe wrote a poem called ‘The Bells’ based a lot on the sound of words” and adding at its end “that’s a poem you might have suffered through in high school poetry class but there’s life to it…” And you know what? Phil gave it new life, doing justice to Poe and his work.

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Celia

Celia

“…I shout to her above the continued sound of gunfire…

we exchange a look of love, pity and terror.

But I have to leave you! She cries. There is no more time to talk”

– William. J. Pomeroy, The Forest, 1963.

Broadside #35 takes up the story;

“William J. Pomeroy, an American writer, and beautiful Celia Mariano, a teacher, were married in Celia’s native Philippines in 1948. Involved with the Huks, they were captured in 1952 by government troops and sentenced to life imprisonment. They served two long years before world-wide protests brought a pardon. Pomeroy was deported at once back to the U.S. but Celia was forbidden to leave the Philippines. Again there were world-wide protests and finally President Mecapagel gave Celia a passport. But the Walter-McCarron Act forbade her entry into the U.S. so they arranged to meet in London…Phil Ochs had been thinking of this song when he learned Celia had at last been freed. But he finished the song anyway, that same night.”

During the Second World War the Huklahap (known as the Huk, the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines, or the PKP) had fought against the Japanese, and had continued fighting against the U.S. backed Philippino government after the end of the war. As a G.I. during the war, William Pomeroy, a member of the Communist Party of the U.S.A, had been posted in the Philippines to fight against the Japanese. Though they had shared a common enemy, the U.S army declared war on the Huk, themselves fighting a guerilla war against the Japanese, a move that led William to openly protest.

After the war, supported by the Communist party, William stayed in the Philippines, where he had met Celia. They became active in the Huk, with William being responsible for the publication of the Huk newspaper ‘Titi’ (meaning flame) and magazine ‘Kalayan’ (meaning freedom) and though William warned them against continued armed struggle, they continued to resist the government forces until 1954, when they were finally defeated. By which time of course, William and Celia were in prison, arrested in the Sierra Madre mountains.

Upon William’s arrest the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines and former wartime Admiral Raymond Spruance  is quoted as saying “Anything the Philippine government does to him, including hanging, is alright with us.”

Celia’s arrest was graphically chronicled in Time magazine in April 1952;

“In Luzon’s jagged Sierra Madre mountains one day last week, a Philippine army patrol scattered a small party of Huk guerrillas. Over the barking rifles a woman’s voice cried: “I surrender! I am Celia Mariano, wife of William Pomeroy.” Out of the bushes came a frightened, tired woman, long, raven-black hair falling over her bruised face, her bare feet bleeding. When the Philippine army captured her husband, U.S.-born Huk Leader William Pomeroy, she had leaped out of a window and fled into the mountains with two Huk women and two male Huk bodyguards…After her capture last week, she was allowed a few minutes with her husband: locked in his arms, Celia Pomeroy wept. Then she was taken to jail to await trial, like her husband. The woman who a few hours before had cried “I surrender,” now fiercely declared: ‘The Huks and their leaders will never surrender!’”

Whilst in prison William composed several poems for Celia, released as the book ‘Beyond Barriers, Sonnets for Celia’ in 1963.

William was well remembered by the people he left behind in the Philippines. Upon his death, aged 92 in 2009, Pedro G. Baguisa, general secretary of the PKP issued a statement saying;

“Comrade William J. Pomeroy, a great Filipino patriot, and a great communist will be mourned by comrades and friends on several continents. His works will always be a source of inspiration for our Party and his memory will live on in the hearts of all our Party members.”

Upon hearing Phil’s song, undoubtedly one of his most beautiful and delicate, Celia Pomeroy wrote to Phil, as published in Marc Eliot’s biography of Phil,

“Dear Phil Ochs,

I can hardly find the words to tell you how much I appreciate that song you composed and sang for the sake of my husband’s reunion with me. As I listened to your song when played on a tape recorder, I could not hold back my tears. The melody was hauntingly sad and plaintive and the words conveyed so eloquently our plight of separation then. Bill and I had the song played and replayed several times, and I think I’ll never get tired of it. It is so beautiful and splendidly sung by you.

It is heartening to find in this world people like you who go out of their way to contribute their share in the cause of humanity and the correction of injustices. There is no doubt you have great talent, and I am so glad that you are using it for good purposes. I wish you success and good luck along the line you have chosen to devote your energies.

With every hope I would someday have the privilege to meet you in person, I thank you with all my heart.

Sincerely yours,

Celia M. Pomeroy”.

Celia died a few months after her husband, in August 2009.

Perhaps one of Phil’s most underrated songs, Celia brings to the fore the personal in the midst of the political. It is a song of romantic love (unusual for Phil, there are few others) but also of sacrifice and while Phil shows some restraint (only the line “If hate must be my prison cell, then love must be the key” leans towards sentimentality) it nevertheless manages to conjure some of the personal loss suffered by those who commit themselves to political causes. This latter theme would be returned to later in Phil’s career but, unfortunately for Phil, he wouldn’t be singing about other peoples pain.

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Power and The Glory

Power and The Glory

“While there is a lower class I am in it,

While there is a criminal element I am of it,

While there is a soul in prison I am not free”

 – Eugene Debs (Five-time Socialist Party Presidential Candidate)

Ed Sanders (of The Fugs and other things) takes up the story;

“[Phil’s] sister Sonny recalls visiting him at his apartment on Thompson Street in [Greenwich] Village. ‘He was sitting on his couch,’ she wrote, ‘playing a chord progression over and over on his guitar. I said, ‘what is that supposed to be?’, ‘the greatest song I’ll ever write,’ Phil replied. He told her he had not yet written the words. ‘So how do you know it’s the greatest song?’ she wanted to know. Phil looked up: ‘Because I know.’”

The title is taken from the 1940 Graham Greene novel (released as ‘The Labyrynthine Ways’ in the United States incidentally), whose title is itself taken from a hymn (“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, now and forever, amen”) and the lyrics are a little bit Woody and a little bit Johnny Horton (maybe?), but only Phil Ochs could have written it. It is patriotic (“Phil’s most patriotic song” according to Ed Sanders) but with a point to make and a huge “but” at the end. It is an attempt to reclaim national pride from the reactionary Right, to set at the heart of the American ideal an inclusive progessiveness where others find only reactionary conservatism. Typical of Phil, it’s a pretty bold move.

The song carries on from ‘This Land Is Your Land’, taking us on a tour of his “green and growing land”, through “the sun and the rain”, finding “beauty that words cannot recall”, with a glory that “shall rest on us all”. Subtle it aint!

He then leads us through Colorado, Kansas and Carolina (North and South), Virginia and Alaska too before reaching places that, at one time or another, Phil would call home; “Texas and Ohio and the California shore”. He then asks “who could ask for more?”. The final verse gives us the answer.

It is this third verse that takes us beyond mere bland jingoism, beyond the billion other empty patriotic ditties and stamps Phil’s dirty great footprint all over it. The final verse reminds us that natural beauty is nothing without the freedom to enjoy it and that this beauty is tempered by poverty and segregation and that, finally, patriotism without protest, without an urge to improve one’s country, is empty;

“Yet she’s only as free as the poorest of the poor,

Only as free as the padlocked prison door,

Only as strong as our love for this land,

Only as tall as we stand”.

Phil often spoke of wanting to write songs that had mass appeal, songs that had lasting significance. The only difference between a topical song and a folk song after all, is time. He wanted to emulate Ewan MaColl, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and later Victor Jara. This is probably as close as he ever got. The fact that rampant homophobe Anita Bryant recorded a version is perhaps evidence of this. One can only assume that she may have blanched at the final verse, but she went along with it all the same, adding her own brand of brassiness to her brass band heavy arrangement.

Phil’s later re-recording of Power And The Glory  is perhaps something of a cover version of Bryant’s version, going the whole hog on the J.P. Sousa, fife and drum and brass treatment (Phil claimed to have listened to Bryant’s version fifty times and “still wasn’t sick of it!”). Released as the B-side to Here’s To The State Of Richard Nixon in 1974, it was certainly an improvement on the version on All the News That’s Fit To Sing, which is nearly ruined by over fussy guitar from Danny Kalb, who elsewhere on the album adds a lightness of touch which Phil’s playing certainly lacked.

Curtis Mayfield introduces Phil on ‘Midnight Special’

The live version Phil performed with Jim Glover on ‘Midnight Special’ (recorded in April 1974, complete with a groovy introduction from guest host Curtis Mayfield; “he’s still keeping on…my man, Phil Ochs!”) adds another element, with Phil’s battered, (post-mugging) voice coming out as a Johnny Cash growl. Fittingly as it happens, as if Cash should have covered any of Phil’s songs, it should have been this one.

Phil finally gets his name in lights. On national T.V. no less.

The version of The Power And The Glory published in Broadside #27 in June 1963 contains a fourth verse, one with a message that even one as reactionary as Anita Bryant couldn’t have ignored;

“But our land is still troubled by men who have to hate,

They twist away our freedoms and they twist away our fate,

Fear is their weapon and treason is their cry,

We can stop them if we try!”

 

Of the songs included on All The News That’s Fit To Sing only this and The Bells would be sung regularly by Phil later in his career, which is symbolic of something or other. Possibly that Phil didn’t dig much of the rest of the album very much. Of Power and The Glory Phil said that it was his “sort of theme song”. Which seems about right actually.

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