Poe Meets Ochs

I had occasion in How to Read Poetry Like a Professor to use Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The Bells,” as an instance of pure sound, which is to say, sound used for its own sake beyond the meaning of the poem. I never thought of is as something waiting for musical adaptation, and it turns out I was right, technically. It wasn’t waiting: the talented and tragic folk singer Phil Ochs had already been there. He adapted the poem on his first album, 1964’s All the News That’s Fit to Sing. It’s pretty great:

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