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1+ Jc chante si je chantc I sing and I'll keep singing Pour q11i veut fn'Cco11ter To all who'll listen to rne Jc chantc,je 1n'invente With words that are stinging Une a11tre vCritl! As all truth has to be Elle se111ble utopique I'll make n1usic a measure Elle existe po11rta11t To tell right from wrong Jc la 111cts en 1nusique To give pain and give pleasure Pour la dire en chantant. And I'll do it in song. I sing of the great promise Which nobody will keep, Of a wish for noble drean1ing When there's only dreamless sleep. I sing of desperation and I've never known despair Of hope and expectation When there's hardly any there. -GEORGES MOUSTAKI © 1975 ENGL!SH ADAPTAT!()N T. BIKEL r:N THE BEGINNING I WAS DRAWN TO folk music because of its storytelling aspect, because this was the musical tradition I was brought up in, and maybe also because my musical aptitude did not extend to more involved and sophisticated styles. Had it not been for folk songs 268 • THEO I might soon have become a man out of his time and place. I stayed around for a long, long tin1e in the n1idst of n1oven1ents that 111a11dated contacts not only with civil rights workers and labor, but with people many years younger than I. As a political liberal, I would have been involved with allies in the 1noven1ent anyway, but because of the 111usic I could do it without regard to any generation gap. Folk music made possible a fusion bet\veen the artist and activist in n1e. Back in the sixties, there were several n1ajor songwriters \vho dealt specifically with political events. One was Tom Paxton, who still continues to be extraordinarily productive, albeit not exclusively in the broadside vein. Another was a young man 110med Phil Ochs. Phil's pain from what he read and saw resulted in a prolific flow of lyrics fron1 his pen and of n1usic fron1 his guitar. He would con1e to n1y apartment and sing for me his latest songs. I was often struck by the thought that he could not possibly keep on with these raw feelings without psychologically coming to grief. Little did I know that he would come to even greater harm than that. Occasionally I would sing his songs to people who were not familiar with Phil Ochs and the songs 111ade quite an in1pact. One tin1e I was a guest in Senator Gaylord Nelson's house in Maryland when Hubert Humphrey came to visit. I decided to sing Phil's song "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" and wondered how the guests would take it. They applauded heartily, but l also saw some disturbed looks in their eyes, as though I had broached a subject that might better have been avoided in polite society. With time Phil Ochs became embittered. Perhaps one should have had an inkling of what was going through his mind when, sometime around 1964, with John Kennedy dead and buried, he said to Bob Dylan, "Politics, it's all bullshit, man. That's all it is. If somebody was to tell the truth, they're gonna be killed." Phil Ochs was a man who had dreams and a vision of a just society. Then he gave up on the dream and went and took his own life. He was right to have had the dream: How tragic that he lost it. We all treat grief in different fashions. The day JFK was shot, I arrived in Boston after an overnight flight from California, preparing to do a concert that evening. Mike Scott, my road manager, called my room and told me to switch on the TV. I will not describe the horror; every single one of us who lived through those hours has his own recollection of them, if he has not blotted it out of his memory as I did for a long time. But we also had a decision to make. Manny Greenhill, the local promoter, called to consult with me on what to do about the concert. Should we cancel, and if we did, how could we notify patrons in such a short time? I told him to meet me at the hall an hour before the announced start and we would decide then. Around seven o'clock I went to the concert hall and saw that many of the people there were milling around...


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