Thursday, 9 July 2009

Phil Ochs in the New Yorker: Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore

Ochs was mentioned today in the New Yorker's "Goings On" blog. The end of the post has to do with "Doesn't Lenny Live Here Anymore" and re-posts Ochs' last known footage (previously featured on this blog). Interestingly, the article frames the song as being about Lenny Bruce. I initially assumed this as well, but after listening to concert audio and reading the liner notes to Farewells & Fantasies, I now think the song has nothing to do with Bruce (though since Ochs was so fond of him, he was certainly aware of the association). Ochs himself framed the song more generally as about "varying levels of depression." Kudos to Ben Greenman for highlighting such a great and under-appreciated song, one that happens to feature some of my favorite lyrics:
You laugh at the people who walk outside on the sidewalk
And you talk to yourself so much, when you see other people you can't talk
This time it's true, the charade is through
And you can't seem to run away from you, away from you
And the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser stands rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here anymore, are you sure

You sit at your desk to lose your life in a letter
But the words don't seem to come and you know that they're better
And it's all so strange, pictures lose their frame
And I bet you never guessed there was so much pain, so much pain
Till the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser stands rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here any more, are you sure

The moon she shines too soon and simply sadly
You love your love so much that you'd strangle her gladly
And it's all so slow, time has ceased to flow
And the whistling whore knows something you don't know
And the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser stands rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here anymore, are you sure

You swore you'd store your love for one time only
Now you searched the books in vain for a better word for lonely
And you're torn apart, no other love will start
And you feel you'd like to steal a happy heart, a happy heart
Then the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser stands rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here anymore, are you sure

The fat official smiles at the pass on the border
And the hungry broom makes sure that the room is in order
You pull the shade, all the beds are made
As your lips caress the razor of the blade, of the blade
And the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser stands rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here anymore, are you sure

The soul of the sun shines just outside of the winter
The shoulders charge, the boards of the barricade have splintered
Now at last alone the flashlight has shown
Hello inside, is there anybody home, anybody home
It's the haggard ex-lover of a longtime loser standing rejectedly by the door
Doesn't Lenny live here anymore, are you sure, are you sure, are you sure

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