Phil Ochs

16 JunΒ  Β The War Is Over

Phil Ochs

By: Bob Gersztyn

Over half a century before Mumford and Sons, the Lumineers and the Decemberists resurrected folk music, it was cutting edge social media communication with activist singer/songwriters using it for social and political commentary. I didn’t discover Phil Ochs until after I was discharged from the army in the Fall of 1968. The first song that I heard by him was on WABX the underground FM radio station in Detroit, Michigan. They played β€œOutside of aΒ  Small Circle of Friends” off Pleasures of the Harbor. Then in Fall of 1969 he appeared at the Grande Theater, in Detroit and I attended with my girl friend Kathy. It was a fantastic and moving performance by one of the most talented folk singers of the 20th century. Then the following year Ochs played at the Poison Apple in Detroit and we attended it again. Once more it was a very memorable experience. After I moved to Los Angeles I lost track of the musical scene, but would occasionally read β€œRolling Stone.” That was how I found out that Phil Ochs committed suicide in 1976. He suffered from a bipolar disorder and became an alcoholic after having his throat crushed during a robbery while in Africa. These are some links to some of his memorable songs. If you can understand who the people are and the politics involved you will understand the 1960’s. The main difference between then and now is “The Draft.” “The Draft” hung over the head of every male that passed their physical when they turned 18. If they were rated 1A, they could count on receiving their draft notice a week after their 19th birthday. There was resistance to going and dying in a foreign country for something that you didn’t even understand. Draft cards were burned and protesting and riots ensued. These were the songs that accompanied these events.Β  Β The War Is OverΒ  There But For FortuneΒ  I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore Β  The Flower LadyΒ  The Highwayman


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