Jack & Amanda Palmer – In the Heat of the Summer

hola my friends….

this is a video that the team put together for “In the Heat of the Summer”, a song originally by Phil Ochs, with some of the lyrics re-written by my dad, Jack Palmer.
i asked him to write something about the song….here it is, and here’s the video. i love you. change is gonna come:

(here is the vimeo version for our German friends)

Heat of Too Many Summers

Fifteen-year old James Powell, a black kid, was shot to death in Harlem on a hot July day by a white, off-duty police lieutenant. According to witnesses, Powell was unarmed. The lieutenant said he fired three shots when Powell threatened him with a knife. In the six days of rioting that followed, 118 people were injured, 485 were arrested and one person was killed. The officer was cleared by a grand jury and all charges against him were dropped.

This was Harlem in July, 1964. Before that summer was over, racial tensions had erupted in New Jersey, Philadelphia and Chicago. In response, Phil Ochs, a rising New York folk singer and self-described “singing journalist” wrote “In the Heat of the Summer.”

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’

And when the fury was over
shame was replacing the anger
So wrong, so wrong, but it’s gone on so long
And we had to make somebody listen

Half a century later the event and Ochs’ song are dishearteningly current. Ferguson. Baltimore. Falcon Heights. Baton Rouge. The swamp of poverty and prejudice remains in too many places across the country, as does the despair it breeds. We explore the cosmos and crack the human genome, but still seem incapable of seeing and treating each other as the equally marvelous, flawed creatures we are. We easily communicate with anyone anywhere in the world, but are too often incapable of truly understanding the person next to us.

And yet.

There is still goodness. There remains the belief in a better future – that we are not condemned to endlessly repeating the mistakes of the past. Now perhaps more than ever when fear, anger and distrust seem the most common currency, it would be well to heed the ultimately hopeful last line of Ochs’ song:

We had to make somebody listen

Are we listening?

- Jack Palmer

LYRICS:

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’

no need to ask how it started
Why the windows were shattered
another black kid face down in the street
whose life did not seem to matter

Down the street 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 they were comin’
bricks and bottles were flyin;
And the loudspeaker drowned like a whisperin’ sound
When compared to the angered emotions

“No, no, no” moaned the mayor
“That’s not the way of the order
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”

And when the fury was over
shame was replacing the anger
So wrong, so wrong, but it’s gone on so long
And we had to make somebody listen
In the heat of the summer…

CREDITS:

amanda palmer: vocals
jack palmer: guitar and vocals, addition lyrics
engineered, mixed an mastered by joe costa
video by gabe coffey (fame house)
special thanks to nick rizzuto and courtney catagnus from fame house