musicology #126

socialcommentaryweek #6

(Phil Ochs – The Ringing Of Revolution)

penultimate cut on the ‘social’ and themusicologist is rolling with one from an artist who was brought to my attention by the man that kicked off this current theme Stephen William, (billy), Bragg who not only cites Ochs as an inspiration but also recorded a tribute to the man ‘I dreamt I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night’ on his 1990 LP ‘the Internationale’

being an admirer of Billy Bragg, (“I just couldn’t help myself guess I was born with a curious mind”), themusicologist headed off on a journey and tracked down some of the man in question’s work. there are many great online sources of Phil Ochs Info so i’ll leave it to them to fill you in on the full and very colourful picture of his bitter sweet life and, in musicology style, let the music do the talking.

this piece of revolutionary prose is taken from the Phil Ochs In Concert LP (1966) and is, for me, as good as the song as message gets.

“in a building of gold with riches untold,
live the families on which the country was founded,
and the merchants of style with their vain velvet smiles,
were there for they also were hounded,
and the soft middle class crowded in to the last,
for the building was fully surrounded,
and the noise outside was the ringing of revolution

sadly they stared and sank in their chairs,
and searched for a comforting notion,
and the rich silver walls looked ready to fall,
as they shook in doubtful devotion,
the ice cubes would clink as they freshened their drinks,
wet their minds in bitter emotion,
and they talked about the ringing of revolution

we were hardly aware of the hardships they beared,
for our times taken with treasure,
oh life was a game and work was a shame,
and pain was prevented by pleasure,
the world cold and grey was so far away,
in distance only money could measure,
but their thoughts were broken by the ringing of revolution

and the clouds filled the room in darkening doom,
as the crooked smoke rings were rising,
how long will it take how can we escape,
someone asked but no-ones advising,
and the quivering floor responds to the roar,
in a shake no longer surprising,
as closer and closer comes the ringing of revolution

so softly they moan please leave us alone,
as back and forth they are pacing,
and they cover their ears and try not to hear,
with pillows of silk they’re embracing,
the crackling crowd is laughing out loud,
peeking in at the target they’re chasing,
now trembling inside the ringing of revolution

with compromise sway we gave it half away,
when we saw that rebellion was growing,
now everything’s lost as they kneel by the cross,
where the blood of christ is still flowing,
too late for their sorrow they’ve reached their tommorow,
and reaped the seed they were sowing,
now harvested by the ringing of revolution

in tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes,
and crawled about in confusion,
and they sheepishly grinned for their memories were dim,
of the decades of dark execution,
hollow hands raised they stood there amazed,
in their shattering of their illusions,
as the windows were smashed by the ringing of revolution

down on our knees were begging you please,
were sorry for the way you were driven,
theres no need to taunt just take what you want,
and we’ll make ammends if were living,
but away from the grounds the flames told the town,
that only the dead are forgiven,
as they vanished inside the ringing of revolution”


6 thoughts on “musicology #126

  1. impressive song – I liked the prose and the picture it cunjured up though the reality of revolution tends to only help the rich get richer but I live in hope of there being another outcome. Being a sentimentalist its my way.


  2. supa8

    the financially rich are always getting richer as money makes money but as I don’t check for the ideology of ‘wealth’ to me it signifies nothing. after all you can’t drink, eat or gain genuine comfort from it and it’s not going to make any difference how much one has if ‘it’ all comes on top.


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