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My memories of Phil Ochs

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  • richrblake
    I was born in the early part of the baby boom in the midwest. My dad was in aerospace and we rarely lived for more than a few years in any one location. I
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 13, 2002
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      I was born in the early part of the baby boom in the midwest. My dad
      was in aerospace and we rarely lived for more than a few years in any
      one location. I lived in about eight different states in just about
      every part of the country growing up, the upside of which was that I
      did not hold provincial views but on the other I was always the new
      kid on the block and never had any real close long-term friends.

      My first political views were quite conservative and in 1964 lived in
      Arizona and California and supported Barry Goldwater. I was just
      13. The next year I moved to Pennsylvania and from my uncle who was
      the chaplain at a New England College, learned the truth about the
      Vietnam war and eventually switched sides in that (not unlike Karl
      Hess who was Goldwater's speechwriter and eventually became a Black
      Panther supporter). Anyway if you remember 1968 you may remember
      that the first Democratic Presidential candidate to challenge Lyndon
      Johnson on Vietnam was not Bobby Kennedy but Eugene McCarthy. It was
      McCarthy's New Hampshire statistic tie with Johnson that caused
      Johnson to withdraw from the Presidential race.

      That year I volunteered for the McCarthy campaign during the
      Massachusetts primary. His big rally was in Boston and among the
      musical acts was Phil Ochs. I had never heard of Ochs prior to that
      time but I quickly became hooked. In a jug band we did a rendition
      of the "draft dodger rag," which along with "fixing to die rag" was
      the best "fun" antiwar song.

      I saw Phil in concert in Philadelphia and after the concert he talked
      with a group of about a dozen fans. I was pretty quiet but I do
      remember the one fan comment that impressed me most and, ironically,
      it has real relevance today even in these post 9/11 times. In a song
      I never heard Phil sang the line, "even Israel's marching down
      Germany's road," which the fan, a girl, said was the only thing he
      had ever sung that she didn't agree with. Then I thought Phil was
      right. After 9/11 I suspect it was the girl.

      When the sixties ended (I contend that the "cultural sixties," which
      was the important definition, started November 1963 (Dallas) and went
      to either May or July 1972, with the high water mark of the Antiwar
      movement, it almost seemed like Phil was one of the people (like
      Abbie Hoffman) who suddenly became irrelevant. Certainly I am sure
      that "the Big Chill" didn't agree with Phil, as he apparently took
      his life quite a while back. That may not be entirely accurate,
      though, it seemed like he had joined the "movement" long before I got
      involved and "burned out" before it was over, the evidence for this
      being his song, "The War is Over" a hope that by declaring the war
      was over it would somehow end, and his two final albums, "Pleasures
      of the Harbor," and "Phil Ochs Greatest Hits," both of which
      reflected an aversion to politics that he had once criticized in Bob
      Dylan when Dylan went "electric." By the way I still believe that it
      was Phil that Dylan wrote "Positively Fourth Street" about, a belief
      which is usually met with one of two responses, one is "duh," and the
      other is that Dylan was beyond caring about Phil.

      I still listened to his tapes and CDs now, I lost his old albums,
      which I treasured but I still would have liked to know if he had
      lived his life would have paralled my own journey. After the Anti-
      war movement, a brief period with even more radical groups and an
      apolitical period in the 70s and early 80s I became involved in the
      Nuclear Freeze and environmental movements in the late 80s, a passion
      which I have been able to maintain over the years but as of 9/11 I
      suddenly discovered a patriotism I never knew existed in me. I kind
      of always suspected that if Phil had been around for 9/11 he would be
      the first one flying the flag. I think really wanted to be an anti-
      fascist partisan in the 1940s and would have been on the front-lines
      now.

      I heard Sean Penn wanted to do a movie about Phil. Hope he does
      someday. Too bad he didn't survive. I guess he was like one of
      those people Kerouac described. Burning so brightly for a time but
      inevitably burning out before their time.
    • pamraver
      Hi Rich, Thanks for your post. I guess my main memories are those of missed opportunites. While I live in the city where Phil grew up and went to college, I
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 14, 2002
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        Hi Rich,

        Thanks for your post. I guess my main memories are those of
        missed opportunites. While I live in the city where Phil grew up
        and went to college, I never got to see him perform live. The one
        chance I had to do so was show that was cancelled.

        I am most interested in the song that you quoted, "All Is Quiet on
        the Western Front." That is one of the rarest of songs.Do you by
        any chance have a tape fo Phil performing this song? I'm
        certainly willing to trade, if you do.

        Another song that some of his fans are looking for, but doubt that
        we will ever get to hear, is the jingle he wrote dor rhw Cleveland
        Indians. I wonder how many other songs he may have writen but
        either did not record or which are now lying collecting dust in
        someone's attic.

        BTW, may I share you post here with another Phil Ochs e-mail
        group?

        Pam
      • pamraver
        Hi Rich, Thanks for your post. I guess my main memories are those of missed opportunites. While I live in the city where Phil grew up and went to college, I
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 14, 2002
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          Hi Rich,

          Thanks for your post. I guess my main memories are those of
          missed opportunites. While I live in the city where Phil grew up
          and went to college, I never got to see him perform live. The one
          chance I had to do so was show that was cancelled.

          I am most interested in the song that you quoted, "All Is Quiet on
          the Western Front." That is one of the rarest of songs. Do you by
          any chance have a tape of Phil performing this song? I'm
          certainly willing to trade, if you do.

          Another song that some of his fans are looking for, but doubt that
          we will ever get to hear, is the jingle he wrote for the Cleveland
          Indians. I wonder how many other songs he may have written but
          either did not record or which are now lying collecting dust in
          someone's attic.

          BTW, may I share you post here with another Phil Ochs e-mail
          group? The above song has been a recent topic there.

          Pam
        • Richard Blake
          Sorry I don t have the tape you mentioned but do feel free to share my post if you like. Best wishes ... __________________________________________________ Do
          Message 4 of 6 , Jun 14, 2002
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            Sorry I don't have the tape you mentioned but do feel
            free to share my post if you like.

            Best wishes
            --- pamraver <praver@...> wrote:
            > Hi Rich,
            >
            > Thanks for your post. I guess my main memories are
            > those of
            > missed opportunites. While I live in the city where
            > Phil grew up
            > and went to college, I never got to see him perform
            > live. The one
            > chance I had to do so was show that was cancelled.
            >
            > I am most interested in the song that you quoted,
            > "All Is Quiet on
            > the Western Front." That is one of the rarest of
            > songs.Do you by
            > any chance have a tape fo Phil performing this song?
            > I'm
            > certainly willing to trade, if you do.
            >
            > Another song that some of his fans are looking for,
            > but doubt that
            > we will ever get to hear, is the jingle he wrote dor
            > rhw Cleveland
            > Indians. I wonder how many other songs he may have
            > writen but
            > either did not record or which are now lying
            > collecting dust in
            > someone's attic.
            >
            > BTW, may I share you post here with another Phil
            > Ochs e-mail
            > group?
            >
            > Pam
            >
            >


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          • Evan Childs
            My name is Evan Childs. I met Phil Ochs in 1975 when he toured upstate New York in support of Ramsey Clark s Senate campaign. Phil sang in Syracuse that
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 5, 2003
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              My name is Evan Childs. I met Phil Ochs in 1975 when he toured
              upstate New York in support of Ramsey Clark's Senate campaign. Phil
              sang in Syracuse that afternoon, with a second gig scheduled that
              night at Cornell. When someone said Phil needed a ride, I made sure
              that I was first in line to volunteer.

              We drove to Cornell that afternoon with my two roommates, and got
              righteously lost somehow. I remember pulling into a gas station for
              directions and Phil went in to speak to the attendant. He sat in
              there and chatted with the guy and came out smiling. "People can be
              OK sometimes," I told him. He agreed.
              We got the directions and made it to the gig with 10 minutes to
              spare.

              Phil took the blame for being late, he had class and a great sense of
              humour.

              I remember asking him about The Crucifixion, the song that most moved
              me of all his work, and like artists do he said it just sort of came
              out and rhymed. So go figure, I guess we're all conduits in a way.

              He killed the audience that night. I saw him again in a cafe in The
              Village not long thereafter, he was sitting with Alan Ginzberg and
              Alan's buddy. We passed a few words and wished each other well.

              I never saw him again.

              The word of his death came to me late one night in San Francisco,
              that phone call you get from a friend in New York, you know? I didn't
              really speak for two days after that. I remember hanging up the phone
              and sitting down to cry.

              It was a long time ago. I think you're right, Phil was anti-fascist
              but more than that he was pro-people.

              Blessings

              ec
            • izitso69
              Hi Evan and All, Thank you for sharing those memories with us, Evan. Best wishes, Ron ... of ... moved ... came ... didn t ... phone
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 8, 2003
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                Hi Evan and All,

                Thank you for sharing those memories with us, Evan.

                Best wishes, Ron




                --- In phil-ochs@yahoogroups.com, "Evan Childs" <evanchilds2003@y...>
                wrote:
                > My name is Evan Childs. I met Phil Ochs in 1975 when he toured
                > upstate New York in support of Ramsey Clark's Senate campaign. Phil
                > sang in Syracuse that afternoon, with a second gig scheduled that
                > night at Cornell. When someone said Phil needed a ride, I made sure
                > that I was first in line to volunteer.
                >
                > We drove to Cornell that afternoon with my two roommates, and got
                > righteously lost somehow. I remember pulling into a gas station for
                > directions and Phil went in to speak to the attendant. He sat in
                > there and chatted with the guy and came out smiling. "People can be
                > OK sometimes," I told him. He agreed.
                > We got the directions and made it to the gig with 10 minutes to
                > spare.
                >
                > Phil took the blame for being late, he had class and a great sense
                of
                > humour.
                >
                > I remember asking him about The Crucifixion, the song that most
                moved
                > me of all his work, and like artists do he said it just sort of
                came
                > out and rhymed. So go figure, I guess we're all conduits in a way.
                >
                > He killed the audience that night. I saw him again in a cafe in The
                > Village not long thereafter, he was sitting with Alan Ginzberg and
                > Alan's buddy. We passed a few words and wished each other well.
                >
                > I never saw him again.
                >
                > The word of his death came to me late one night in San Francisco,
                > that phone call you get from a friend in New York, you know? I
                didn't
                > really speak for two days after that. I remember hanging up the
                phone
                > and sitting down to cry.
                >
                > It was a long time ago. I think you're right, Phil was anti-fascist
                > but more than that he was pro-people.
                >
                > Blessings
                >
                > ec
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