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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 16. 1972

NZUAC presents: Phil OCHS

page 18

NZUAC presents: Phil OCHS

"My Belief is that the Soul of America is Dying. The Flag. Loyalty Patriotism, the whole Lifestyle is Losing Meaning in the Old Contest."

"'Rehearsals' is the Retirement of the American. The Songs are About the new Paranoia, Police Brutality, The Escape Into Drugs, Chicago Itself, People Coming to the West - Another Escapist Route - Thoughts of Suicide, Thoughts of Revolution, and then Finally back and Saying all this has Been our Rehearsals for Retirement."

"Leave the Old and Dying America and use your Creative Energies to Help Form a New America, which would be Demilitarized, more Humanistic, Where the Police are Less Hostile and Closer to the Community, Where the Wealthy are not Given Unleashed Power for the Exploitation of the People.

"And, Mostly, Because it's now a Matter of Life and Death, Re-Assert an Ecological Balance with the Environment, which Means the People in the Oil Companies and the Car Companies and the Space Industry and All the Other Industries will have to be Brought Into Account, So that there wlll be a New Definition of Government Which has to be Closer to the People and Less Close to Special Interests Which are far More Harmful Than any Revolutionaries."

Photo of Phil Ochs

Phil Ochs has made six LP's, the first three were generally protest; the fourth ("Pleasures of the Harbor"), an excursion into poetry and away from polemics: the fifth ("Tape from California") an impressive blending of the two; and the most recent ("Rehearsals for Retirement"), an agonized depiction of a confusing world. (A seventh is to follow called "Phil Ochs' Greatest Hits.")

"Every album has a different musical approach to almost each song. So there's a big change from the Scriabin-like piano in The Doll House' to the bluesy rock guitar in 'I Kill, Therefore I Am.' 'Doll House' being totally dreamlike. 'I Kill' being a very harsh protest song.

"I view a record as a work of art, like looking at it as a novel, a sculpture, a painting, there's all these different parts and when I go about making a record, I think about how to fit it together.

"But new ideas keep edging out old ones. I've got a lot of melodies and words are coming in . . . by the minute .... from the east."

Will the new album be a radical departure from his past work?

"just have some tentative ideas about the new album. It will be the most personal one yet There'll be a song about my childhood, songs about. . . cars, a song about James Dean probably. (He had just talked to a girl who knew the late actor), a straiglit country 'n western song."

He said that there would also be a straight political song about Nixon. Screamin' Jay Hawkins just made an album, which he dedicated to the President, for bringing back the spirit of the 50's.

The album is just taking shape.

"I'm in the middle of the unformed state. Some of the songs are just fragments of lyrics, fragments of melodies. I'm rounding a corner and I can see it start to take shape. It's still vague.

"Our country is deteriorating by in-fighting. America used to be the melting pot. Now the pot is boiling over. Wasn't it great when Italians and Jews and alt the rest could live together. Now every group is increasingly feeling threatened and so separates into little groups. That's what 'Small Circle of Friends' is about. At this point, I think it's impossible to avoid terrible internal clashes.

"My songs are partially a reflection of all this. I have a song called 'All Quiet on the Western Front', which is a little song about how there's a strange stillness and an upheaval is about to occur."

"My darkest fear is we are about to go through that all over again. The iron heel! In this case, America rather than Germany. Vietnam is almost a prelude to an attempt to annihilate all progressive forces.