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SINGLE - The Scorpion Departs but Never Returns (COVER Phil Ochs) (2020)

by Marianne Dissard



Tucson expat chanteuse Marianne Dissard covers Phil Ochs' 1969 protest song 'The Scorpion Departs but Never Returns' in homage to Captain Crozier, sacked captain of the USS Roosevelt, and his crew.

VIDEO by Raphael Mann : www.youtube.com/watch?v=NT3h5XWFV_Y

On 22 May 1968, the USS Scorpion submarine was lost with 99 crewmen onboard dying in the incident. The results of the U.S. Navy's investigations into the loss of Scorpion remain inconclusive but, as stated in conservative magazine The National Interest : "by 1968 it was obvious to the Navy's Bureau of Ships that the submarine was badly in need of major overhaul. Yet the demands of the Cold War made it necessary to send Scorpion and her officers and crew on one more deployment to the Mediterranean Sea to participate in joint NATO operations. She would, however, sail with one less man. Electrician's Mate Dan Rogers, who refused to go on the cruise, flatly stated to Lt. Cmdr. Francis Slattery that every man on Scorpion was in danger."

In 1969, American protest singer Phil Ochs wrote and recorded a song about the tragedy, 'The Scorpion Departs but Never Returns', for his dark art folk album 'Rehearsals for Retirement'.

Fast-forward to 2020 and this current administration's no-less criminal mishandling of federal resources and human lives.

Staying put in Tucson after her tour dates in Europe were postponed because of the pandemic, singer Marianne Dissard poured her heart into recording a version of Phil Ochs' tragic and timely tale. Working in isolation each from their respective living rooms, the five collaborators (Marianne Dissard, Thøger Lund, Vicki Brown, and Marco Rosano in Tucson, Arizona, and Raphael Mann in Ramsgate, England) recorded their respective parts in the last week of March 2020.

But, as Tucson engineer Jim Waters began mixing the track, Dissard read about another Navy ship whose crew was in danger…

Why this song now?

On March 30th, ignored by his superiors, a certain Captain Crozier had widely shared a desperate plea for help on behalf of his virus-stricken crew onboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. In it, he wrote,“we are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

Having dared to speak truth to his superiors, Captain Crozier was swiftly removed from his ship — he's since also tested positive to the Covid-19 virus — but not before his confined crew gave him a moving farewell from the deck of their ship... Thus the USS Roosevelt legend was born. Crozier eventually did get an apology from (breaking news: now ex-) Navy Chief Modly who had both called Crozier "too naive or too stupid" and chastised his crew for cheering their departing Captain.

What do you think?

I've never been much of a protest singer but I felt I had to record Scorpion as my response to this administration's crimes against humanity. But what of these intuitions and creative impulses when world events not only prove you right but up the ante on our worst fears? Maybe these are the questions that haunted Phil Ochs fifty years ago and echo to this day through his songs.

I hope you like Scorpion. Please listen, download and share and let us know what you think. You can also help below if you're able.

Thanks. Stay safe!




LYRICS - Written by Phil Ochs

Sailors climb the tree, up the terrible tree.
Where are my shipmates have they sunk beneath the sea?
I do not know much, but I know this cannot be.
It isn't really, it isn't really,
Tell me it isn't really.

Sounding bell is diving down the water green.
Not a trace, not a toothbrush, not a cigarette was seen.
Bubble ball is rising from a whisper or a scream.
But I'm not screaming, no I'm not screaming,
Tell me I'm not screaming.

Captain will not say how long we must remain
The phantom ship forever sail the sea
It's all the same.

Captain, my dear Captain, we're staying down so long.
I have been a good man, I've done nobody wrong.
Have we left our ladies for the lyrics of a song?
That I'm not singing, I'm not singing.
Tell me I'm not singing.

The schooner ship is sliding across the kitchen sink.
My son and my daughter they won't know what to think.
The crew has turned to voting and the officers to drink.
But I'm not drinking, no I'm not drinking.
Tell me I'm not drinking.

Captain will not say how long we must remain.
The phantom ship forever sail the sea.
It's all the same.

The radio is begging them to come back to the shore.
All will be forgiven, it'll be just like before.
All you've ever wanted will be waiting by your door.
We will forgive you, we will forgive you.
Tell me we will forgive you.

But no one gives an answer, not even one goodbye.
Oh, the silence of their sinking is all that they reply.
Some have chosen to decay and other chose to die.
But I'm not dying, no I'm not dying.
Tell me I'm not dying.

Captain will not say how long we must remain
The phantom ship forever sail the sea
It's all the same.


released April 9, 2020


Scorpion Departs But Never Returns
Phil Ochs
Cover by Marianne Dissard

Marianne Dissard - vocals, production and arrangements.
Raphael Mann - guitar and music video editing.
Thøger Tetens Lund - electric bass and upright bass.
Vicki Brown - loops and violin.
Marco Rosano - tin flute and trombone.
Tin flute melody 'The Lonesome Boatman' by Finbar Furey.
Cheering by USS Roosevelt sailors.
Jim Waters - mixing.
Jason Mitchell, Loud Mastering - mastering

Thanks to Jim, Thøger, Vicki, Raphael, Sergio, Marco and Jean-Michel. Nod and a bow to Vic Chestnutt.


all rights reserved



Marianne Dissard

Baroque noir Sonoran art rock from Tucson and beyond by French chanteuse, street photographer, filmmaker, performer, brutally honest author.

Left her home in Tucson, Arizona for a dream boat in England. Drifted to Scotland.

“An eccentric character who releases very fine and wonderful records, in fact so eccentric she once toured the French Pyrénées on foot with a donkey” says Marc Riley, BBC6
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