Thursday, 2 April 2009

Rehearsals for Retirement

Rehearsals For Retirement was Phil Ochs' sixth album, released in 1969 on A&M Records. Recorded in the aftermath of Ochs' presence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago (where his exploits included selecting and purchasing a pig for Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies to nominate for President), it is the darkest of Ochs' albums, a fact exemplified by its cover, a tombstone proclaiming that Ochs had died in Chicago.

"Pretty Smart On My Part," the album opener, is a song in the persona of a right-wing reactionary, who plans to, among other things, "assassinate the President and take over the government" (the song was noted on Ochs' lengthy FBI file). "William Butler Yeats Visits Lincoln Park and Escapes Unscathed" is Ochs' telling of the events that unfolded in Chicago, followed by an upbeat jaunt berating those who weren't there. "The World Began in Eden and Ended in Los Angeles" seems to portray Ochs' then-home as a hellhole, as all metropolises eventually end up. "Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore" is the tale of a woman seeking out her ex-lover, and finding Ochs instead, telling a tale of loneliness that permeates American life.

Perhaps the most despairing track on the album is "My Life," in which Ochs states bluntly, "my life is like a death to me," which presages Ochs' suicide seven years later. He also asks the FBI to "take your tap from my phone and leave my life alone."

Track listing

All songs by Phil Ochs.

Side One

1. "Pretty Smart on My Part" – 3:18
2. "The Doll House" – 4:39
3. "I Kill Therefore I Am" – 2:55
4. "William Butler Yeats Visits Lincoln Park and Escapes Unscathed / Where Were You in Chicago?" – 3:29
5. "My Life" – 3:12

Side Two

1. "The Scorpion Departs But Never Returns" – 4:15
2. "The World Began in Eden and Ended in Los Angeles" – 3:06
3. "Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore?" – 6:11
4. "Another Age" – 3:42
5. "Rehearsals For Retirement" – 4:09

  • Phil Ochs - guitar, vocals
  • Larry Marks - producer
  • Lincoln Mayorga - piano, accordion
  • Bob Rafkin - guitar, bass
  • Kevin Kelley - drums (rumored)
  • Ian Freebairn-Smith - arrangements

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