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Phil Ochs - I Aint Marching Anymore

For I marched to the battles of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain't marchin' anymore


For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning
I knew that I was learning
That I ain't marchin' anymore

- Phil Ochs lyrics


Kossack sboucher recommended this song to me yesterday and it is a perfect followup to Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Universal Soldier". Kind of the same story told from a soldier's perspective.

Here's one of Och's most popular songs.

Phil Ochs singing "There But For Fortune" at the Bitter End, 1967

When I was in high school we would sit around Saturday nights playing chess and listening to The Midnight Special on WFMT.

The Midnight Special - Folk Music with a Sense of Humor

I see they're still doing it more than 40 years later. Anyway when Phil Ochs released the song "Crucifixion" it became the most requested song ever played on "The Midnight Special". At the start of the show they would acknowledge this and reassure listeners  that they would be playing "Crucifixion" later in the night.

Here's Phil Ochs singing this fantastic song in Sweden in 1969.

Phil Ochs - Crucifixion (Live Stockholm 1969)

The story goes, and like many myths it no longer matters whether it's true, that Bob Dylan was holding court in a Greenwich Village coffeehouse when Phil Ochs came in. Both Bob and Phil were acerbic and evidently they viewed each other as friendly competitors. Dylan said, "I'll tell you what. You give me two of your songs and I'll give you one of mine and then we'll be even." Phil Ochs played "Crucifixion". Dylan didn't ask for another. But he did play "Visions Of Johanna".

Phil Och's legacy is maintained by his sister, Sonny Ochs, who runs a series of Phil Ochs Song Nights. She has this great tribute on her site.

Phil Ochs Biography

I will close with this touching statement that Bella Abzug (D-NY) read into the congressional record shortly after his death in 1976.

Mr. Speaker, a few weeks ago, a young folksinger whose music personified the protest mood of the 1960s took his own life. Phil Ochs—whose original compositions were compelling moral statements against war in Southeast Asia—apparently felt that he had run out of words.

While his tragic action was undoubtedly motivated by terrible personal despair, his death is a political as well as an artistic tragedy. I believe it is indicative of the despair many of the activists of the 1960s are experiencing as they perceive a government which continues the distortion of national priorities that is exemplified in the military budget we have before us.

Phil Ochs' poetic pronouncements were part of a larger effort to galvanize his generation into taking action to prevent war, racism, and poverty. He left us a legacy of important songs that continue to be relevant in 1976 — even though "the war is over".

Just one year ago—during this week of the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War—Phil recruited entertainers to appear at the "War is Over" celebration in Central Park, at which I spoke.

It seems particularly appropriate that this week we should commemorate the contributions of this extraordinary young man.

- Bella Abzug quoted in wikipedia

Update - Rescued!

Thanks so much to diary rescue for helping me promote the music of Phil Ochs. Because of the additional comments to this diary I am late posting my Fred Wilson diary today. Fred is the only person I know who actually knew Phil Ochs.

Here's a link to today's diary featuring some of Fred's great songs.

Fred Wilson - Two Sets Of Books


Hairy Larry

Originally posted to hairylarry on Thu Sep 18, 2008 at 07:23 AM PDT.

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