Friday, July 27, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back Streets of Bessarabia

Guest Post | Will Oldham

So much music was shown to me by David Grubbs during the 1980s, music that made strong changes to my headspace. Principal among these musics is the work of Phil Ochs. Grubbs first played 'I Ain't A-Marching Anymore', and I got a copy of the record and listened to it a lot.

His records were not easy to find in the local used or new record shops, and my mail-order music catalog had only one Ochs record, 'Phil Ochs ‎Greatest Hits', which has cover art based on an Elvis hits compilation (which I owned). I loved and love both of those Ochs records; the 'Greatest Hits' is not a hits record, but instead a record of all-new (at the time) songs.

The edition I got was on a reissue label called Pickwick, and I guess in their licensing deals they agreed to cut a couple of songs off of the original track listing. Later I found a copy of the original A&M pressing, and the missing tracks were awesome.

Back in those days, it took years to find some records. I remember so well the disbelief/elation I felt when I found a copy of 'Rehearsals For Retirement' in a milk crate at a 2nd-floor used record shop in Providence. Just amazing. And I had never heard any of the songs, and the record blew me away.

Timebreak: trouble got in the way of writing, now I am returned, but the mind-thread will maybe differ.  

In 1989 I moved to Los Angeles, and soon met a certain Meegan Lee Ochs. I knew of her as Phil Ochs daughter; we became friends. She shared with me many things. Some things are so engrained in me that I forgot to bring the internet to bear upon them. For example, Meegan gave me a VHS compilation of Ochs TV appearances; maybe these are all on YouTube now? I don’t know, I watched them so many times that they are a part of me.

Last year we played a show in Calgary with Dick Gaughan, and he played Ochs’ song 'When I’m Gone'. That got me thinking about Ochs again, and then that very good recent documentary about Ochs came into my possession.

In January of this year, there was a performance with Nuala Kennedy’s 'Astar' piece, and she asked about other songs we could do. I suggested 'Pleasures of the Harbor'. One day when we were rehearsing, in Glasgow, Dana Lyn came in and said that Gauaghan was across the hall rehearsing. I went out and peered through the keyhole, watching him practice 'The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down'. These memories are fragmentary. Phil Ochs, I love him.

Thank you for reading these, and thanks Señor Juan, for inviting me in.

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And hearty thanks to Guillermo Oldham for his wonderful posts over the last months, which are archived here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012