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In the Heat of the Summer by Phil Ochs – 1965

In the Heat of the Summer by Phil Ochs - 1965 by Ada Hasloecher{3:54 minutes to read} For those of us of a certain age, the current social and political climate reminds us of the 1960s and the pervasive political and racial unrest that clutched almost a decade. Back in the mid 60s there were demonstrations, marches and assassinations—you name it. All in the name of an unpopular war, racial inequality, women’s rights—a seething unrest that permeated every aspect of American life.

Sides were taken: Younger generation against the older one, black against white, establishment/authority against a cry for a more just and equitable system, militarists against pacifists—a very volatile and scary time indeed. What’s happening this year—this summer in particular—is nothing new, unfortunately. More of the same and yet perhaps worse. Worse because when we don’t learn from our past, we are, as the saying goes, “doomed to repeat it.”

Phil Oches, one of the many folk singer/songwriters of that time, penned a host of anti-war and socially conscious songs that reflected that precarious decade. One of my favorite albums from the ‘60s is Judy Collin’s “Fifth Album” on which she recorded one of his more prescient songs, “In The Heat Of The Summer.” I highly recommend that you go to YouTube and listen to her haunting voice sing this still, very timely song.

In the heat of the summer
When the pavements were burning
The soul of a city was ravaged in the night
After the city sun was sinkin’

Now no one knows how it started
Why the windows were shattered
But deep in the dark, someone set the spark
And then it no longer mattered.

Down the streets they were rumbling
All the tempers were ragin’
Oh, where, oh, where are the white silver tongues
Who forgot to listen to the warnings?

On and On come the angry (not included in recording)
No longer following reason
And all the stores were the target now
Where just the other day they were buyin’

Drunk with the memory of the ghetto
Drunk with the lure of the looting
And the memory of the uniforms shoving with their sticks
Asking, “Are you looking for trouble?”

“No, no, no,” moaned the mayor.
“It’s not the way of the order.
“Oh stay in your homes, please leave us alone
“We’ll be glad to talk in the morning.”

“For shame, for shame,” wrote the papers.
“Why the hurry to your hunger?
“Now the rubble’s resting on your broken streets.”
“So you see what your rage has unraveled.”

Barricades sadly were risin’ (not included in recording)
Bricks were heavily flyin’
And the loudspeaker drowned like a whisperin’ sound
When compared to the angered emotions

And when the fury was over
And the shame was replacing the anger.
So wrong, so wrong, but we’ve been down so long
And we had to make somebody listen
In the heat of the summer…

When, oh when are we going to start listening to each other, walk a mile in each other’s shoes and “get it?” We mediators are here to help do just that.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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  1. Rev. Judith Laxer August 23, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Ada, thank you for this beautiful post! I heard that song hundreds of times underscoring my childhood but NEVER HEARD THE LYRICS until I followed your suggestion and link to listen to it just now. Blessed be the mediators. Power to the peaceful.

  2. Steve Abel August 31, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Right on,
    it’s just hard to listen over Trump’s roar.
    We’re lucky that we haven’t had full-scale riots this summer.
    Thanks for this post,
    Steve Abel

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