Stevieslaw: Cops of the World
While perusing the headlines in the New York Times this morning, Phil Ochs tapped me on the shoulder and smiled. Phil’s been dead for years, so that was a little eerie, but I think his smile was trying to tell me something. Phil was a protest singer in the ‘60’s, along with the likes of Tom Paxton, Eric Andersen, and Pat Sky*. Phil was a big deal back in the day. I heard him perform twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City. One of the songs he sang there in 1966 was “Cops of the World.” Here’s the first stanza and chorus:
Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You’d better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We’ve rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
‘Cause we’re the Cops of the World, boys
We’re the Cops of the World.
And while the individual stanzas are dated, it wouldn’t be that hard to write ten or twenty new ones that brought us up to today. Because the truth of the matter is the subject of the song still applies. Maybe that was what Phil was trying to tell me with his smile. It’s coming up on the 50 year anniversary of the song. That’s a long time to be a cop on the beat. I don’t think any police force in the country would allow you to work that long. Maybe it’s time to retire. Time to buy a little cottage in Havana and take up deep sea fishing.
*Tom Lehrer does a great parody of the breed