Dec 19, 2015

Happy Birthday, Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs
Today is Phil Ochs' 75th birthday (1940–1976).

Ochs' aching commitment to using art and music to protect human rights, and change an ailing country is a legacy embraced today.

Neil and Neil, Dylan, Bruce, John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, U2, Zac Brown, Legend, Common, Linda Perry, Roger Waters and so many others.

Note Doug Bradley and Craig Werner in their new book on music and Vietnam: "For the Marines at Khe Sanh and the more than three million other men and women who served in Vietnam, music provided release from the uncertainty, isolation, and sometimes stark terror that reached the front lines to the relatively secure rear areas known as the air-conditioned jungle. For the fortunate ones who did get back home, music echoed through the secret places where they stored memories and stories they didn't share with their wives, husbands, or children for decades. Music was the key to survival and a path to healing, the center of a human story that's too often been lost in the haze of politics and myth that surrounds Vietnam" (Introduction pp. 1, 2)."

Music remains a key to survival across the globe—bridging divides, destroying artifice, bringing joy.

Difficult to kill a Palestinian or shoot down a black American in the street when listening to Ochs' Changes or Roger's Us and Them.

Changes, Phil Ochs (1964)

Changes, Phil Ochs (1964)

Sit by my side, come as close as the air,
Share in a memory of gray;
Wander in my words, dream about the pictures
That I play of changes.

Green leaves of summer turn red in the fall
To brown and to yellow they fade.
And then they have to die, trapped within
the circle time parade of changes.

Scenes of my young years were warm in my mind,
Visions of shadows that shine.
Til one day I returned and found they were the
Victims of the vines of changes.

The world's spinning madly, it drifts in the dark
Swings through a hollow of haze,
A race around the stars, a journey through
The universe ablaze with changes.

Moments of magic will glow in the night
All fears of the forest are gone
But when the morning breaks they're swept away by
golden drops of dawn, of changes.

Passions will part to a strange melody.
As fires will sometimes burn cold.
Like petals in the wind, we're puppets to the silver
strings of souls, of changes.

Your tears will be trembling, now we're somewhere else,
One last cup of wine we will pour
And I'll kiss you one more time, and leave you on
the rolling river shores of changes.

So, sit by my side, come as close as the air,
Share in a memory of gray;
Wander in my words, dream about the pictures
That I play of changes.

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