I had a strange journey through the wilds of the radical and protest movements of the 1960s and 70s this morning that I had not anticipated taking. Here’s part 1 of that journey; part 2 will come tomorrow.
It all started when I was looking at the Washington Post this morning and found a great article under the headline “Why Phil Ochs is the obscure ’60s folk singer America needs in 2017. ” The article takes a look back at one of my favorite 60s musicians and his deep collection of protest and other folk songs. Phil was famous for topical songs (Here’s To The State of Richard Nixon), biting satire (Love Me, I’m a Liberal) and gorgeously reflective songs (There But For Fortune). But the biggest part of his limited fame was for protest songs like “The War Is Over.”
All too sadly, Phil died by his own hand in the late 70s, a victim of mental illness, just a little before I was to discover his music.
It was that last song, “The War is Over,” that was recently covered by contemporary star Lady Gaga at a free concert during the Democratic National Convention last summer, who asked her audience whether any of them remembered Phil.
Richard Just, in his WaPo article, suggests to Lady Gaga that she do another Phil Ochs song when she provides the halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl in another couple of weeks – perhaps Phil’s most patriotic number “Power and Glory.” (The version I’ve posted is of the fife and drum version, but there are many acoustic versions as well.)
I can’t imagine it happening – but good lord, it would be beautiful!