Phil Ochs

Not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Eligible since: 1989 (The 1990 Induction Ceremony)

Previously Considered? No  what's this?


Essential Songs (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3YouTube
There But for Fortune (1964)
I Ain't Marching Anymore (1969)

Phil Ochs @ Wikipedia

Phil Ochs Videos

Will Phil Ochs be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
"Musical excellence is the essential qualification for induction."
   

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130 comments so far (post your own)

11 References to Phil Ochs at the Rock Hall

500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll:

Phil Ochs - I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore

I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore - Phil Ochs

STI Lesson 1 - Keep on Pushing: Popular Music and the Civil Rights Movement
STI Lesson 5 - Rockin’ the World: Rock and Roll and Social Protest in 20th Century America
STI Lesson 17 - A Modest Proposal: Irony Made Understandable with Rock and Roll
STI Lesson 20 - Slices of American Pie: The 1960s Through Music
STI Lesson 21 - Empathy and the Vietnam War

Pete Seeger:

July 26-28, 1963: The Newport Folk Fetival, featuring Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Phil Ochs, is held in Newport, Rhode Island. It is a defining moment in the folk-protest movement.

Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss:

In 1966 Alpert and Moss moved their company to the historic Charlie Chaplin Studio, at the corner of Sunset and La Brea Boulevards in Hollywood, where it remained until 1999. A&M began acquiring more rock-oriented performers in the late Sixties. These included such British blues-rock acts as Joe Cocker, Free, Humble Pie and Spooky Tooth, not to mention pioneering American country-rockers the Flying Burrito Brothers. On the American side, keyboardist Lee Michaels and folksinger Phil Ochs signed to A&M. In the early Seventies, A&M struck gold with Cat Stevens, the Carpenters and Carole King (who was signed to the A&M-distributed Ode label). In terms of jazz and R&B, A&M did well with Billy Preston and Quincy Jones. In the mid-Seventies, the label had great success with such arena-rock acts as Styx, Supertramp, Nazareth and Peter Frampton. The double live album Frampton Comes Alive became one of the top sellers of the rock and roll era. A&M even sold great numbers of comedy albums by the duo Cheech & Chong.

Leonard Cohen:

There are few artists in the realm of popular music who can truly be called poets, in the classical, arts-and-letters sense of the word. Among them are Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Joni Mitchell and Phil Ochs.

Why is the Museum in Cleveland?

Cleveland’s claim on the Museum is born of both rock and roll history and a strong sense old civic pride. Besides being the place where Alan Freed popularized the term Rock and Roll with his pioneering radio show and groundbreaking early rock and roll concerts, Cleveland has served as a springboard to success for rock artists as diverse as Chuck Berry (who made his first public appearance here) to David Bowie (who made his U.S. debut here) to Elvis Presley (who played his first concert north of the Mason-Dixon line in Cleveland). The Cleveland area also been home to a number of well-known and well-regarded rock artists, including Chrissie Hynde, Joe Walsh of the Eagles, Pere Ubu, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Phil Ochs, Devo, the Dead Boys, Benjamin Orr of the Cars, the Raspberries, the O’Jays, Dink, Wild Cherry, Bobby Womack, Tracy Chapman and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, among others.

Posted by Roy on Thursday, 10.23.08 @ 10:52am


Phil Ochs will never be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But that's okay. He'd just be slumming in there anyway. It's for rock stars like Bob Dylan, not honest geniuses like Phil Ochs who never compromised.

Posted by Padraig on Friday, 02.13.09 @ 20:32pm


he deserves to be honored for his work

Posted by andrew on Saturday, 07.31.10 @ 13:57pm


Leonard Cohen is in, so why not?

Posted by protolink on Monday, 08.30.10 @ 10:01am


I support his induction.

Posted by Chalkie on Saturday, 12.18.10 @ 07:54am


wrote and recorded some of the most powerful anti-war songs ever . . . right up there with the likes of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and others of that stature . . . absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame . . .

Posted by Michael on Tuesday, 02.15.11 @ 16:52pm


Can't see it happening but if Laura Nyro can get nominated they should at least consider Phil Ochs. (And no, that's not me taking a swipe at Laura, so Nyro-fans out there, don't be offended).

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 11.14.11 @ 08:08am


A complete footnote, as far as the overall development of music is concerned, and a 24-karat asshole. He's already been consigned to the trash heap of outdated junk artists (see also Captain and Tennille, Joan Baez, John Denver, The Archies, etc.), so why bother inducting him?

Furthermore, anyone who uses their music to brainwash the minds of the public shouldn't be considered for the RRHOF. Music, like any form of art, isn't supposed to foster heavy-handed, political groupthink. Now let's move on and discuss far worthier inductees, like Judas Priest and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who concentrated on music first and avoided the bullshit politics that only divide the public.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 04.29.12 @ 23:36pm


Seriously? I'd much rather have music with a message then music with no meaning. You've said you think that Joan Jett should be in the Hall of Fame. Now if there has footnote in the history of music it would have to be Joan Jett's junk solo career (I can see some importance in The Runaways). I have never heard a more lazy song than "I Love Rock and Roll." I think it's time that we stopped talking about the color in the number artists like Joan Jett an others and consider the artists that actually put something into their music like Phil Ochs and Joan Baez.

Posted by Gassman on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 00:48am


"heap of outdated junk artists (see also Captain and Tennille, Joan Baez, John Denver, The Archies, etc.)"

John Denver, really? Just because of his political activism? I'd take John Denver's music over say, someone like Bob Geldof's any day.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 03:40am


Troll feeding hours are over, Tahvo.

Posted by DarinRG on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 04:26am


Fair enough, Darin. However, I wouldn't call Zach a troll, more like a guy who is just very passionate about music he likes/doesn't like. He also isn't politically correct, which is always a bit of a refreshing change.

Now as for Phil Ochs, like I've said before, if Laura Nyro can get in, there's always the possibility someone like Phil Ochs can too.

As for meaning in music, well there aren't any rules that dictate whether or not there should be any meaning, that's up to the artist. If someone wants to write low-IQ lyrics like "For those about to rock we salute you" or "Hit me with your best shot, fire away!" vs lyrics like "Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall" or "The little man who gets the train got a mortgage hanging over his head, but he's too scared to complain cos he's conditioned that way" it's your prerogative.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 05:40am


Additionally, virtually every post Zach has left on here has spawned serious discussion, which is sort of the exact opposite of troll behaviour.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 05:46am


In case you haven't realized it by now, Gassman, Zach seems to be down only on those artists whose message seems to skew to the left side of the political spectrum.

He probably loves Ayn Rand. No messages there, nosiree.

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 08:07am


I think that Zach just doesn't like music with any political overtone period (left or right), and I think that that's fair, though I personally don't share that viewpoint.

I know I'm very much in the minority here, but if I had to make a ranked list of the criteria that determined whether or not I liked a song, lyrical content would be at the very bottom, right below the voice of the singer.

I focus a lot more on how catchy the chorus is, how good the guitar riff sounds, and how much I like the rhythm section of the band.

Because of this, I have less of a fondness for electronica, indie rock, and singer-songwriters than many on this site, and I tend to lean more toward more mainstream, traditionally structured rock music.

I also count songs like Fortunate Son, Keep on Rockin' in the Free World, Stranglehold and even the Rage Against the Septic Tank classic Killing In The Name among my favorite songs despite the fact that I don't necessarily agree with the lyrics of the songs, or the political views of the artists that make them.

I think that liking a song really depends on what you place an emphasis on, so with that in mind, I don't have a huge problem with Zach's viewpoints even if I disagree with several of them.

I do however wish that he spent as much time plugging the artists he actually DOES like instead of launching a full-scale assault on the ones he doesn't. :)

Posted by BSLO on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 10:40am


Zach doesn't seem to care about politics at all.

lyrical message isn't that important to me. Only time it would stop me from listening to a band is if it was for some far right nazi garbage or some horribly stupid lyrics, like the found in Tik-Tok.

most the acts zach has attacked have been rather minor. now if he says something like dylan/lennon doesn't belong in, then he's talking out of his arse.

Posted by GFW on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 11:12am


Let's see. Just on the Question Mark & The Mysterians page alone there were attacks on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, CCR, James Taylor, The Grateful Dead , Carole King, Neil Young, and Neil Diamond.

Yeah, just raindrops in the sea.

Posted by Arrow Man on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 12:19pm


What?

if he seriously thinks none of those belong anywhere near the hall , he's an moron.

Posted by GFW on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 12:21pm


lol, talk about a bandwagon going on here!

"Let's see. Just on the Question Mark & The Mysterians page alone there were attacks on The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, CCR, James Taylor, The Grateful Dead , Carole King, Neil Young, and Neil Diamond."

But the question is, did he directly say all of those shouldn't be in the Hall or did he simply criticize them for other reasons? The answer is the latter.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 12:34pm


Phil Ochs & Pete Seeger come from the Left. They are singer/songwriters who proudly voice themes that resonate with those on the Left side of the political spectrum.

To think Zach doesn't know this or care is to infantilize him. I think he has a political agenda that is probably mostly seperate from his forays here, but it seeps through (IMO).

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:00pm


wait a minute, janis joplin wasn't even political.

Posted by GFW on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:04pm


In case you haven't realized it by now, Gassman, Zach seems to be down only on those artists whose message seems to skew to the left side of the political spectrum.

He probably loves Ayn Rand. No messages there, nosiree.

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 08:07am

Wrong! In case you haven't read my other posts, I've attacked Ted Nugent and Toby Keith for mixing their conservative politics with their music and concerts. Furthermore, I've never read an Ayn Rand book, so you're incorrect on both counts. If you like to be indoctrinated with political brainwashing, that's your problem, not mine.

Gassman, you're totally wrong about Joan Jett's solo career. First off, Joan Jett didn't write I Love Rock 'N' Roll. If you want to blame anyone for writing that song, blame Alan Merrill of The Arrows. I'd be surprised if you've ever heard of them, but here's a YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AT_Pbtyid0

Secondly, she was the first major female rock artist to establish a record label. Considering how male-dominated the music industry is, I'd say that's a significant achievement.

Thirdly, Joan Jett is still relevant, what with the release of the recent Runways movie and concert performances/TV guest appearances. Phil Ochs is six feet under and no one gives a rat's ass about Joan Baez, whose expiration date passed nearly 40 years ago. I've never met anyone in the real world (outside the Internet) who likes Baez or Ochs, but I know plenty of folks who enjoy Jett's music. Also, what does it tell you that Baez's and Ochs's records are mostly found in Salvation Army stores alongside other "luminaries" as The Boston Pops, Andy Williams, and Mitch Miller? Yeah, I thought so.

Arrow Man, I never said any of those acts were unworthy of being in the RRHOF or that they were footnotes. I only expressed my dislike of their music. The last time I checked, none of those acts made their personal politics the vanguard of their music.

You already got on my bad side once with your incredibly narrow-minded observation that all songs from the 1950s and early 1960s had corny lyrics. I stood up to your babble by citing Chuck Berry's Brown-Eyed Handsome Man as an example, and you backed down like the coward you are.

BSLO, you must have missed my posts on the Big Bopper, Joan Jett, Gary Numan, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins pages because I do promote the artists I like on FRL. If you only want to focus on my negative posts, that's your problem, not mine.

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:16pm


I think this comment by Zach in response to Chalkie accusing him of being a Republican on the Woody Guthrie page sums up his political views:

"Nope, I'm not a Republican (or a Democrat for that matter). Whatever made you come to that ridiculous assumption? As far as I'm concerned, you have to be a very weak, easily manipulatable person in order buy the BS that conservatives and liberals spew out. Let's keep the politics out, mmkay?"

Everybody seems to be accusing Zach of being political/having a political agenda when his comments seem to say otherwise.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:18pm


Phil Ochs & Pete Seeger come from the Left. They are singer/songwriters who proudly voice themes that resonate with those on the Left side of the political spectrum.

To think Zach doesn't know this or care is to infantilize him. I think he has a political agenda that is probably mostly seperate from his forays here, but it seeps through (IMO).

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:00pm

The main reason I despise Ochs and Seeger is because their voices are too draggy and cold. Their songs are devoid of any passion, either in the instruments or in the vocals. Lyrics are only as good as the voice that's singing them. I only care about what's coming out of the speakers. Political lyrics merely reinforce what I already hate about said artists.

If you think there's a political agenda behind my posts, then you're reading too closely. I judge musicians by their music first, but when they use their political views to indoctrinate others, I can't remain silent.

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 13:47pm


Zach: "Lyrics are only as good as the voice that's singing them."

Therefore you are more intrigued by Mariah Carey than someone like Bob Dylan? Afterall, Mariah does have a pretty voice.

Posted by Dezmond on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 14:29pm


Nope, I don't care for either of them. Using the "Better than" method as designed by movie critic Armond White, here are more valid comparisons

Van Morrison > Bob Dylan

Point of comparison: Singer-songwriters with distinctive voices

Donna Summer > Mariah Carey

Point of comparison: Pop divas

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 14:36pm


"Arrow Man, I never said any of those acts were unworthy of being in the RRHOF or that they were footnotes. I only expressed my dislike of their music. The last time I checked, none of those acts made their personal politics the vanguard of their music."

"You already got on my bad side once with your incredibly narrow-minded observation that all songs from the 1950s and early 1960s had corny lyrics. I stood up to your babble by citing Chuck Berry's Brown-Eyed Handsome Man as an example, and you backed down like the coward you are."

I didn't use the word "all" in my original comment. For every 1 example like Brown-Eyed Handsome Man you can give me, I could counter it with at least 4 the other way. And since you got on my bad side the minute you started slamming some of the best artists to ever grace the planet, (Beatles, CCR, Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Phil Ochs) we are even. You're free to attack whoever you want including me, I never said you weren't. But when you spit on such proven commodities, better dig yourself a bunker cause the arrows are gonna start flyin your way.

And really there's no difference between saying you don't personally like an act and saying they belong in the Hall Of Fame. I don't think that if you were on the committee, that you would vote to allow in any of those artists you attacked to be nominated except maybe The Beatles. Nothing you've shown me so far indicates you could possibly be anything resembling objective.

Posted by Arrow Man on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 14:40pm


Arrow Man: Great point! I couldn't say it better myself.

I agree with DarinRG and we should just stop feeding the troll.

Posted by Gassman on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 15:01pm


BSLO, you must have missed my posts on the Big Bopper, Joan Jett, Gary Numan, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins pages because I do promote the artists I like on FRL. If you only want to focus on my negative posts, that's your problem, not mine.
--------------------------------------------------

Maybe I sold you a little bit short in that respect. I've seen your support of those artists, as well as David Bowie, Alice Cooper and the one today from The Dominoes.

It seems like the negative posts overwhelm the positive ones, but it might just seem that way because the negative ones seem to illicit stronger reactions from several of the posters here.

Anyway, I have nothing against new points of view on this site. It keep things fresh!

Posted by BSLO on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 15:18pm


"And really there's no difference between saying you don't personally like an act and saying they belong in the Hall Of Fame. "

?

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 15:20pm


I have no opinion for or against Ochs as a person, but I really don't see any concrete basis to support his induction. He was not the first "protest" singer. His songs really did not leave much of an imprint (I at least know a few Joan Baez songs). And commercially, even taking the genre into account, he was commercially non-existent. But I do love the fact that forever more whenever an artist is mentioned we are compelled to say something about Laura Nyro and how hope springs eternal.

Posted by astrodog on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 16:07pm


that's silly. Fats Domino bores the hell out of me, but i won't deny the guy his place.

Posted by GFW on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 16:08pm


Exactly, hence my "?" GFW. There are quite a few artists in the Hall I don't care for, but I certainly wouldn't deny them their place. I mean seriously, the Hall chose to induct Patti Smith and you don't see me protesting outside the museum or anything.

There were many people in the rock community who complained about Madonna's induction, but I certainly doubt anybody went on hunger strike in protest over it.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 16:18pm


^I was agreeing with GFW's point, not about Fats Domino (which we've agreed to disagree on in the past). Everybody here knows how vocal I am in supporting Fats Domino. Great guy.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 16:20pm


Arrow Man, I've never denied the impact or the significance of The Beatles, Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, etc. I only expressed my dislike of their music. Even someone as anti-Beatles as myself recognizes the fact that they're probably the most important rock band of the last half-century. I actually said some kind things about them on another page (I drawing a blank on which artist's page it was, though). They belong in the RRHOF, no question about it. There, I just proved that I can be objective.

I stand corrected on accusing you of saying all 1950s songs had corny, simple lyrics. However, as someone who is fiercely dedicated to preserving the early years of rock 'n' roll and exposing others to the music of that era, I took umbrage at your overall statement. I don't know what, if any, music of the 1950s you like, but if you don't know the past, you'll never know the future. You don't have to like all the rock 'n' roll of the 1950s, but to truly appreciate the rich history of rock 'n' roll, you can't ignore the monumental impact that Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, The Drifters, Eddie Cochran, etc., all had. I proved that I can show objectivity when evaluating artists I don't like, so let's see you do the same.

The problem I have is that there are people out there who believe that everyone must appreciate or like The Beatles and other critically and/or commercially successful bands. That's groupthink of the worst kind. Yes, I can objectively recognize the importance of The Beatles, but that doesn't mean I have to like their music. It's too overhyped, easily accessible, and just doesn't interest me. I'm more intrigued by artists who haven't been discussed to death like The Big Bopper, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Billy Ward and The Dominoes. The Beatles have been analyzed, discussed, and critiqued to the point that there's almost nothing left to say about them. I'm more interested in musicians who aren't given proper credit for the contributions they made to music.

DarinRG and Gassman, you're both way off with your characterizing me as a troll. If that were so, I'd be posting unintelligible comments with abominable spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. I'm not being a contrarian for the sake of being a contrarian. I'm exercising my right to express how I feel. I support my arguments with reasons and evidence for why I feel the way I do. I'm not one of these hit-and-run types who makes one post and never returns. I actually enjoy posting here and exchanging different points of views.

Tahvo, I once had an exchange with GFW about Fats Domino. While he and I expressed opposing viewpoints, I didn't take offense to his not liking Domino's music. He stated his reasons and we moved on. Nothing to complain about there. GFW's a good fellow and always has something interesting to say.

You can count me as a fan of Fats Domino, too.

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 17:02pm


The way I look at music is every type has its time and its place. I dig 50s music like Elvis, The Big Bopper, The Coasters, and Danny & The Juniors when I'm in the mood to party on a Saturday night. I prefer the deeper 60s and 70s stuff at other times like on rainy days when I'm in the mood for introspection. I wouldn't dream of listening to The Beach Boys in the middle of a snowstorm. I just don't want to be stuck in 1 era, though I admit I have a hard time listening to alot of today's pop like Lady Gaga & Rhianna. I've always loved most music and it just saddens me to see anything decent vilified. If it weren't for music, I don't think I could have made this far. I've come to the conclusion that other that the grace of God, the only thing you need, my friend, to make it through life is the right song at the right time.

Posted by Arrow Man on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 17:44pm


you're both way off with your characterizing me as a troll. If that were so, I'd be posting unintelligible comments with abominable spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc.

Posted by Zach on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 17:02pm
--------------------------------------------------
I'm completely w/Zach on this one. I've spent yrs. on this site posting unintelligible comments w/bad spelling & sentence structure, & nobodies said anything eyt. As a matter of fact, if you carbon date the 4,000 mile part of the cryonics lab that I sprang from, you'll find that I emerged from the bottom of the moon of Triton, which always houses trollers, & strollers, & for that matter, strolling trollers.

To close, let me just say I'm not nearly as drunk as thinkle peep I am. I usually hit this sie with only tee martoonis.

But I digress...

Posted by Cheesecrop on Monday, 04.30.12 @ 19:08pm


Astrodog summed it up best. Ochs was only following in the footsteps of Guthrie and Seeger and wasn't doing anything differently. Ochs jumped on the protest song bandwagon because it was the "in" thing to do in the 1960s. We can all be thankful that these preachy protest songs eventually went the way of phone booth packing, pet rocks, and bell bottoms. Like I've said so many times before, political protest songs have no staying power and are already outdated once the events they're referring to have passed.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 09:39am


Yes, songs like "This Land is Your Land", "For What Its Worth", "What's Going On", "Southern Man", etc. all suck. Too bad these songs were recorded.

Can't these losers just accept their lot & not whine about it?!

Posted by Paul in KY on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 14:24pm


Zach: "Like I've said so many times before, political protest songs have no staying power and are already outdated once the events they're referring to have passed."

It is your understanding of nuance that I admire most. Take a song like CCR's "Fortunate Son." Wasn't CCR another of the bands you felt were overrated? That song still has incredible power. Aside from just rocking hard, Fogerty wrote it broadly enough for it to outlast the event for which it was written. It is about Vietnam, but as long as wars are fought for questionable reasons, the song will still be relevant and mean say something important.

Posted by Dezmond on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 14:53pm


Look, Zach. I didn't want to keep on going with this. I don't like spending too much time here because the subjectivity of it all becomes nauseating and my monthly allotment is already almost run out and it's only the 1st of May. But what you wrote this morning is just doesn't stand up to the slightest bit of objective reality.


1. "Astrodog summed it up best. Ochs was only following in the footsteps of Guthrie and Seeger and wasn't doing anything differently."

Since when is doing something differently a requirement to be in the Hall Of Fame? If we took out everybody that just slapped a new coat of paint on the railing, then half the Hall would be empty. Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, AC/DC, James Taylor, ABBA, ZZ Top, John Mellencamp are just a handful of names off the top of my head. If that's the best Astrodog can do then I'm glad I didn't catch him on a bad day.


2. "We can all be thankful that these preachy protest songs eventually went the way of phone booth packing, pet rocks, and bell bottoms."

Really? I don't remember giving you the right to thank anybody on my behalf. Nostalgia in high doses is lethal, no doubt about it. It can ruin a nation. But I just heard of a study that said in moderation nostalgia can be therapeutic to the human spirit. I might even have an old mood ring in some drawer somewhere.


3. "Like I've said so many times before, political protest songs have no staying power and are already outdated once the events they're referring to have passed."

Even if specific events mentioned have long since passed they can tun into metaphors to describe future events of a similar nature. The last time I looked there were still a few wars going on with a little social injustice thrown in.


And just out of curiosity, I did a little checking on Phil Ochs and here's some of what I found:

ITEM-Sean Penn was very interested in making a movie about Phil Ochs as late as 2009.

ITEM-A film called Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival just 2 years ago and then began running all across the USA and Canada. And PBS even showed it this year 2012.

ITEM-Phil Ochs has had so many people cover his tunes since the 60s, it would take me half an hour to list them so I won't bother.

Seems to me after being gone for 36 years, Phil Ochs' legacy is alive and kicking. Who would've thunk it?

Posted by Arrow Man on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 16:55pm


Yes, songs like "This Land is Your Land", "For What Its Worth", "What's Going On", "Southern Man", etc. all suck. Too bad these songs were recorded.

Can't these losers just accept their lot & not whine about it?!

Posted by Paul in KY on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 14:24pm

Paul, you're just a glutton for punishment, aren't you?

What's Going On is an exception that proves the rule. Marvin Gaye was wise enough to not blatantly reference the Vietnam War, the Kent State shootings, or any other then-current events in the lyrics. Hence, the song still has staying power.

For What It's Worth is total dog shit. The droning vocals and preachy lyrics just kill it. Yeah, the Vietnam War was terrible, but we don't need a song to remind us of that. That's why we have history textbooks and the news. Let art entertain and enthrall the people, not indoctrinate them.

I've stated my feelings on This Land is Your Land elsewhere. In short, it's an annoying little ditty that sounds very contrived.

Southern Man is an ad hominem attack on the southern United States from someone who has only a slim understanding of southern culture. Slavery is despicable and should never be reinstated, but you can't call everyone from the South an illiterate, racist hillbilly. That's just ignorance. Hell, rock and roll was born way deep in the south, so that's reason enough to have pride in the southern U.S. Furthermore, patronizing white lie-brals like Neil Young are unqualified to comment on racism and prejudice. The same goes for white con-servatives, who are just as incompetent. Let the blacks speak for themselves. Both lie-bralism and con-servatism have destroyed America beyond all recognition, and it would be best for the U.S. to see these dangerous mindsets completely wiped out.

Dezmond, I'm not sure what your qualifications for staying power are, but getting overexposure on oldies and classic cock (err, rock) stations does not make a song timeless. Such is the case with Fortunate Son. Timeless songs are those that have an impact on multiple generations and affect the entire culture, not just music. Songs like In the Mood, Over the Rainbow, Sing Sing Sing, That's Amore, Rock Around the Clock, Johnny B. Goode, Tutti Frutti, California Girls (the original Beach Boys version), My Girl, What A Wonderful World, American Pie, Rock and Roll All Nite, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and others transcend music. They're part of the shared American cultural experience. I'm talking about songs that have appeal beyond the generations that first experienced them and the eras they were part of in the first place. You can't tell me that Fortunate Son defines the great American musical legacy as My Way or Thriller.

The point I'm trying to make here is that there are songs that speak to specific generations, and then there are songs that speak to everyone. Lots of songs fit into the former category, but few can be placed in the latter. I'd say there's probably no more than a hundred songs that have the power to appeal to multiple generations, and Fortunate Son ain't one of them.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 17:28pm


"Really? I don't remember giving you the right to thank anybody on my behalf. Nostalgia in high doses is lethal, no doubt about it. It can ruin a nation. But I just heard of a study that said in moderation nostalgia can be therapeutic to the human spirit. I might even have an old mood ring in some drawer somewhere."

I never said there was anything wrong with nostalgia. Being such a young person myself, I'm nostalgic for things that previous generations experienced. I loathe the current cultural landscape and would give anything to have lived back in the 1950s (which, contrary to popular belief, wasn't all that tame and chaste). I'm grateful to have a great-uncle who was a teenager then and can tell me how it really was, musically.

My comment about protest songs going the way of other fads was intended as a humorous remark. Please don't take it to heart. You shouldn't be ashamed of still owning a mood ring. If it's something you feel a personal attachment to, more power to ya.

While you provided some evidence of Phil Ochs's legacy, a closer look will reveal that it isn't all that impressive.

"ITEM-Sean Penn was very interested in making a movie about Phil Ochs as late as 2009."

Yeah, but has it even reached the production stage yet? Even if it does become a reality, I doubt it will be the artistic and critical success that the Ray Charles and Johnny Cash movies were. Mind you, Cash and Charles are bigger names than Ochs, and that's objectively speaking.

"ITEM-A film called Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival just 2 years ago and then began running all across the USA and Canada. And PBS even showed it this year 2012."

Why am I not surprised that this documentary premiered at a film festival held in Woodstock? This is the first I've heard of There but for Fortune. I doubt very much that it had any serious impact.

"ITEM-Phil Ochs has had so many people cover his tunes since the 60s, it would take me half an hour to list them so I won't bother."

This is the funniest one of them all. When I first read this, I almost spit out the water I was drinking. Wikipedia lists the following as having covered Ochs's songs:

"Ochs's songs have been covered by scores of performers, including Eric Andersen, Peter Asher, Joan Baez, Bastro, Cilla Black, Black 47, Billy Bragg, Eugene Chadbourne, Cher, Gene Clark, Judy Collins, Henry Cow, Allison Crowe, John Denver,[121] Kevin Devine, Ani DiFranco, disappear fear, Mark Eitzel, Marianne Faithfull, Julie Felix, Diamanda Galás, Dick Gaughan, Ronnie Gilbert,[121] Thea Gilmore, John Wesley Harding, Carolyn Hester, Pat Humphries, Jason & the Scorchers,[129] Jim and Jean, Jeannie Lewis,[130] Gordon Lightfoot,[121] Christy Moore,[131] Ray Naylor, Harry Nilsson, Will Oldham, Brian Ritchie, David Rovics, Melanie Safka, Pete Seeger, The Shrubs, Squirrel Bait, Crispian St. Peters, Teenage Fanclub, Tempest, They Might Be Giants, Dave Van Ronk, Eddie Vedder, and The Weakerthans.[132] Wyclef Jean performed "Here's to the State of Mississippi" in the 2009 documentary Soundtrack for a Revolution.[133]"

Yeah, such an impressive list, right? At least 99% of the artists on that list are complete obscurities. Names like Teenage Fanclub, David Rovics, Jim & Jean, Dick Gaughn, and The Shrubs are total nonentities, as far as the overall development of music is concerned.

In other words, whoop-de-damn-do.

Ochs's legacy is peanuts compared to a more significant artist like Buddy Holly. Hell, just year Holly received a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on what would have been his 75th birthday. A tribute album, entitled Listen to Me: Buddy Holly, was released to coincide with last year's anniversary. Top names like Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Jeff Lynne, Lyle Lovett, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, and Linda Ronstadt contributed covers to the album.

So yes, Phil Ochs does have a legacy, but it's a rather tiny one compared to the real biggies. His lack of commercial and international success or meaningful influence don't exactly help his cause either. As much as I despise Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, I can objectively recognize the importance of their music. As hokey as This Land is Your Land is, it's had more staying power than anything Ochs ever wrote.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 18:10pm


Songs like In the Mood, Over the Rainbow, Sing Sing Sing, That's Amore, Rock Around the Clock, Johnny B. Goode, Tutti Frutti, California Girls (the original Beach Boys version), My Girl, What A Wonderful World, American Pie, Rock and Roll All Nite, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, and others transcend music. They're part of the shared American cultural experience.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 17:28pm
--------------------------------------------------
You had me up till that last song.

No offense, but "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" is not in any way the kind of transcendent musical experience you're making it out to be. Don't get me wrong here - I do like Pat Benatar, & this is certainly not the worst song in the world. It's just not there w/some of the others you mentioned.

Now maybe if you'd tossed in "Smoke On The Water", "Welcome To The Jungle", "Smells Like Teen Spirit", etc., well then...

(I know you care not for certain times, but from an objective standpoint, then...)

Posted by Cheesecrop on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 18:23pm


Okay, maybe I should have tossed in Beat It or When Doves Cry as an example of an '80s song with cultural transcendence. Hit Me with your Best Shot would probably be on the second tier of songs that were monstrous hits and are still hugely popular today, but didn't have quite as huge a cultural impact.

The verdict is still out on Welcome to the Jungle and Smells Like Teen Spirit. Neither song has yet hit the 30 year mark, so let's wait and see if they're still as significant in a few more years. I'm not doubting that they will join the canon of transcendent American music, just that it's too early to judge their lasting impact. My prediction is that they will in a few years.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.1.12 @ 18:45pm


Since when is doing something differently a requirement to be in the Hall Of Fame? If we took out everybody that just slapped a new coat of paint on the railing, then half the Hall would be empty. Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, AC/DC, James Taylor, ABBA, ZZ Top, John Mellencamp are just a handful of names off the top of my head. If that's the best Astrodog can do then I'm glad I didn't catch him on a bad day.
--------------------------------------------------

Arrowman-Now that's not nice. For the record, although this should be clear to anyone, my point is not that the R&RHF is reserved only for those acts that help originate their genre, but that this constitutes one of several legitimate factors in supporting an artist's induction. The problem for Ochs is not that he did not help originate his genre of music, but that he did not do so AND he had virtually no commercial success ANd he remains an obscure musical figure without a catalogue of recognizble songs. The other artists you list did not invent the wheel (in Led Zeppelin's case they stole the wheel), but they did sell millions of albums, something that cannot be said of Ochs. Now Ochs could conceivably overcome this if he could be credited as a musical pioneer or as a clear influence (Seegar is a good example here), but he has nothing like that in his favor.
Sorry to say but Ochs is a marginal musical figure whose main draw today is the fact that he was yet another tragic musical victim. It would make a good movie of the week. But that isn't helpful in establishing a credible basis to argue for his induction. I can only recommend taking heart in the Laura Nyro induction, and if that doesn't work, try wishing upon a star. :)

Posted by astrodog on Wednesday, 05.2.12 @ 00:20am


Astrodog, sorry if you took what I said to be nasty. I really don't know if there's any true set of criteria to induct anybody into this Hall Of Fame(Shame?) They seem to make it up as they go along. If it's not innovation or record sales then it's musical excellence or cultural influence. There always has to be something to print in the bio so they'll find an excuse, not that they really need anything since they know they can do whatever they want. But if you notice, I never argued for his induction, just that he was more than some fine print reference at the bottom of the last page of some chapter in a 60s music guide. In the case of Phil Ochs, you're right that he never managed to break though to the mainstream as far as sales, but I do think you're selling him short in terms of not just musical influence, but cultural influence. Even Seeger said that Ochs and Dylan were the 2 greatest songwriters in the world at that time. If you had to name the top 5 folk singers of the 1960s, I think it would be Dylan, Seeger, Baez, Odetta, and Phil Ochs. If not top 5 then surely top 10. Considering the popularity of 60s folk, that's hardly a "marginal" status. But even more important than that, Ochs was involved in counterculture past his eyebrows. Even though those songs never became hits they influenced society big time through the direction society was taken by the counterculture. That's the true legacy of Phil Ochs.

Posted by Arrow Man on Wednesday, 05.2.12 @ 02:59am


Keep em coming Zach :-)

Posted by Paul in KY on Wednesday, 05.2.12 @ 07:29am


Arrow Man-No worries and well put. There is a lot of goal post moving when it comes to establishing a criteria.

Posted by astrodog on Wednesday, 05.2.12 @ 10:09am


"If you had to name the top 5 folk singers of the 1960s, I think it would be Dylan, Seeger, Baez, Odetta, and Phil Ochs. If not top 5 then surely top 10. Considering the popularity of 60s folk, that's hardly a "marginal" status. But even more important than that, Ochs was involved in counterculture past his eyebrows. Even though those songs never became hits they influenced society big time through the direction society was taken by the counterculture. That's the true legacy of Phil Ochs."

With statements like these, it's clear that you can't see the forest for the trees.

Ochs's influence and impact have been limited to the folk scene. I know you love him warts and all, but let's be realistic here. Ochs was never a major force in the development of music as an overall art form. To do that, one must have an affect on most or all forms of music. Creating an entirely new genre or style (Chuck Berry, Stephen Foster, Louis Armstrong, Elvis Presley) or re-inventing the wheel completely (The Beatles, Miles Davis, Michael Jackson, Les Paul) is a Herculean task that has only been achieved by few. Ochs did none of that. If you want to cite someone in the folk scene who impacted the whole music and cultural landscape, Bob Dylan would be the obvious choice. Thankfully, he abandoned that scene and managed to prove his worth in other areas.

There are many major artists whom I dislike intensely like The Beatles and Miles Davis, but I would never deny their everlasting importance to music and culture. On the flip side, as much as I love The Big Bopper and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, I would never put them on the same pedastal or a higher pedastal than, say, Robert Johnson or Hank Williams, Sr. I personally think that Hawkins and The Bopper are more significant than critics make them out to be, but I can objectively realize that they're not in the top tier of musicians that I mentioned earlier. They'd find a place somewhere in the third tier for sure, though.

Objectively speaking, Ochs would probably rank somewhere on the bottom tier of significant musicians, namely artists who had an impact on a certain genre or style of music but little to none on the overall art form or mainstream culture.

Now that you mention it Cheesecrop, the Pat Benatar song that probably comes closest to being on the list of transcendent songs is Love is a Battlefield. Besides inspiring one of the biggest music videos of the MTV era (back when MTV was actually relevant), Love is a Battlefield is often cited as a major example of the female self-empowerment sub-genre of music. Robin Roberts's study Sex as a Weapon: Feminist Rock Music Videos is one that lauds Love is a Battlefield for its female self-empowerment motif.

Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 05.2.12 @ 17:23pm


I've been a fan of Phil Ochs for eons, but have never considered him a serious candidate for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He didn't sell many records and will probably never be a household name. With that said however, I think he's a complicated case.

There's no question he was one of America's greatest songwriters, yet he's not known by most people, even those from his own era. And the ultimate Ochsian irony is, despite the fact that he desperately wanted to be famous and have hit records, he consistently refused to compromise his message to get the airplay he needed. Case in point - the "smokin' marijuana is more fun than drinkin' beer" line from his biggest almost hit "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends". He knew he was dooming the song's chances by using that line and yet he did it anyway. (and then bemoaned it's fate!).

He may have understood that if he did start writing commercially acceptable, FBI approved material or cloaked his words in garbled Dylan-esq fashion, he'd lose his identity as a truth-teller. Phil's songs were deceptively topical but the themes were almost always universal. Just update the names (I can hear him sarcastically singing "I cheered when Obama was chosen, my faith in the system restored") and you've got a song that's as relevant today as it was then. That was fully intentional on Ochs’ part. Top 40 hits come and go; Phil was playing a longer game.

Bottom line, if Phil Ochs had compromised he wouldn't have been Phil Ochs and I wouldn't be typing these words, you wouldn't be reading them, and the 13 year old who discovers him next week on YouTube wouldn't end up fascinated and charmed by the brilliant young rebel who cared more about his country than he did his own musical career.

As far as major acts influenced by Ochs, don't overlook the Clash. Not only did they snag a stanza from his virtually unknown "United Fruit" for "Up in Heaven (Not Only Here)", his presence is felt throughout their brilliant "Sandinista" album. I can't listen to "The Call Up" and not hear strong overtones of Phil's "One More Parade".

Posted by Ronnie on Friday, 05.4.12 @ 11:45am


"the "smokin' marijuana is more fun than drinkin' beer" line from his biggest almost hit "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends". He knew he was dooming the song's chances by using that line and yet he did it anyway. (and then bemoaned it's fate!)."

Yeah, that's real "edgy." Get real. Pot and alcohol are both used as juvenile status symbols within the music industry. Ochs was merely following the rest of the crowd.

Oh, and just because you namedropped The Clash doesn't invalidate my argument that Phil Ochs's influence has primarily been limited to nonentities.

"He didn't sell many records and will probably never be a household name."

Thank God. There's more to making important music than writing "socially conscious" lyrics. No wonder Ochs sounds so dated and creaky today. I've heard music that goes back to the 1910s and 1920s that sounds fresher than his dreck.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 05.5.12 @ 22:29pm


woah woah woah. i don't know about over there but over here the clash are far from non-entities.

Posted by GFW on Sunday, 05.6.12 @ 07:11am


No need to worry, GFW. I never said that The Clash were a non-entity. My point was that outside of The Clash, Eddie Vedder, and maybe 2 or 3 other musicians, Phil Ochs's influence has been primarily confined to complete obscurities. That alone hurts his induction chances, which aren't all that significant anyway.

To be a truly influential musician or band, you've got to influence acts of most or all styles, eras, and genres/sub-genres. Not only that, but your music must have a transcendent impact that affects everyone. I'm going to keep going back to this point because impact covers more a lot more ground than just music. Impact encompasses an entire culture: movies, books, television shows, sports, radio, paintings, theatre, etc.

Louis Armstrong. Glenn Miller. Frank Sinatra. Edith Piaf. Hank Williams, Sr. Chuck Berry. Elvis Presley. Ray Charles. Johnny Cash. Luciano Pavarotti. The Beatles. Bob Dylan. The Rolling Stones. Aretha Franklin. Michael Jackson. Madonna. Selena. These names aren't just famous musicians, they're icons who have penetrated our lives in various forms. You don't have to be fans of their music (There's a few who I can't stand, but that's neither here nor there), but you can't deny their impact on the entire cultural landscape. To suggest that Phil Ochs can even be put in the same league as Armstrong, Pavarotti, Piaf, Franklin, Berry, Dylan, Jackson, et al is insane.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 05.6.12 @ 17:18pm


"To be a truly influential musician or band, you've got to influence acts of most or all styles, eras, and genres/sub-genres. Not only that, but your music must have a transcendent impact that affects everyone. I'm going to keep going back to this point because impact covers more a lot more ground than just music. Impact encompasses an entire culture: movies, books, television shows, sports, radio, paintings, theatre, etc. "

And just exactly how many people currently in The Hall Of Fame meet those qualifications? What's the percentage?

Posted by Arrow Man on Sunday, 05.6.12 @ 17:42pm


I'm guessing Zach is pretty young if he doesn't understand that openly and unambiguously singing about smoking grass was going to automatically get a song banned from AM airplay in 1965. Ochs had a real shot at a major hit with Outside of A Small Circle of Friends, but he refused to change the lyrics to get airplay, thereby denying himself the career boost. (It had nothing to do with trying to be "edgy", btw. He wrote far, far more edgy songs. It's simply that Circle of Friends was otherwise one of his most accessible tunes.) But as Billy Bragg sang about Phil years later, he never compromised his art or his message, and this is a prime example of that.


It's clear Zach doesn't like Phil's leanings. Ochs was an actual lefty, unlike the politicians of today whom Zach probably (comically) accuses of being "muslim/commies". But regardless of whether you like what he had to say, his talent for writing politically biting yet beautifully melodic songs is unparalleled in modern American musical history.

Posted by Ronnie on Monday, 05.7.12 @ 19:58pm


It’s simply wrong to claim the work of Phil Ochs had "little to no (impact) on the overall art form or mainstream culture". Aside from the aforementioned Pearl Jam, Clash, and Billy Bragg:

Here are a couple of quotes from Neil Young, who has long acknowledged the influence of Ochs on his work (think "Ohio"):

On his '06 album "Living With War":

"It's a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan."

On "Cinnamon Girl":

"Wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs' eyes playing finger cymbals. It was hard to explain to my wife."

Paul Simon acknowledged Phil Ochs in his solo artist Rock and Roll induction speech. Phil's work in Africa with native musicians came nearly 15 years before Graceland.

Dead Kennedys fans know Jello Biafra is a Phil Ochs devotee who has reworked some of Phil's songs with updated lyrics, including the brilliant "Love Me, I'm a Lib-er-al".

Then there's the time Phil brought Robert F. Kennedy to tears by singing him an a cappella
version of the breathtaking “Crucifixion”.

And where do you think John and Yoko got their "War is Over" idea? Yup, they nicked it from Phil, whose work Lennon admired. (There's an amazing home made tape of them playing "Chords of Fame" together in a hotel room out there somewhere, btw.)

I’ll stop here, but you get the point. Just because you don’t personally like (or know very much about) an artist or his politics doesn't mean that artist didn't have a significant impact on those around him and those who followed them later. And despite the fact that he didn’t sell many records and never made it to the Ed Sullivan Show, Ochs most certainly made his mark. This alone tells us a great deal about the power of the music of Phil Ochs.

Posted by Ronnie on Monday, 05.7.12 @ 21:23pm


"It's clear Zach doesn't like Phil's leanings. Ochs was an actual lefty, unlike the politicians of today whom Zach probably (comically) accuses of being "muslim/commies""

You're wrong here. I've posted before about my intense dislike of the lie-bral/con-servative mindset, so I won't beat that dead horse again.

You've finally managed to drudge up a few important musicians who have claimed to take influence from Phil Ochs, but let's look closer.

Outside of the punk world, the expired cup of Jello and his Dicks mean squat. Only deluded hipsters could think that they have any real importance to the overall development of music (not just punk) and culture.

Sure, John Lennon may have admired Ochs's music, but that's not the same as being influenced. Lennon's main influences were Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, The Everly Brothers, Harry Nilsson, and Roy Orbison, to name a few. All of these musicians eclipse Ochs in the success and influence departments, not to mention they are still far better remembered.

It figures that a fellow lie-bral like Neil Young would draw influence from Ochs. After all, misery loves company.

Who's Billy Bragg?

"Ochs most certainly made his mark."

Yeah, he sure did. When your records are prominently featured in Goodwill stores right next to the likes of Mantovani and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, you've made a monumental impact on the world. Get real. There's been plenty of musicians who found posthumous acclaim, like Howlin' Wolf and Hank Williams, but Ochs ain't one of them.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 13:47pm


Not to wade into this subject again, but I do think there needs to be a distinction between a musical influence (an artist who stylistically affects subsequent music) and a personal inspiration. It's like Laura Nyro. There are many artists who like her, who were inspired by her, but I'm not sure I would categorize that as equivalent to being a musical influence. Influence tends to be an amorphous term.

Posted by astrodog on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 14:07pm


And just exactly how many people currently in The Hall Of Fame meet those qualifications? What's the percentage?

Posted by Arrow Man on Sunday, 05.6.12 @ 17:42pm

Here's some:

Chuck Berry
Elvis Presley
Bob Dylan
Buddy Holly
Ray Charles
The Beatles
James Brown
Bill Haley and His Comets
Aretha Franklin
The Beach Boys
The Rolling Stones
The Temptations
Johnny Cash
David Bowie
Nat King Cole
Michael Jackson
Prince
Madonna
The Police
Hank Williams
Louis Armstrong
Dick Clark (not a musician, but certainly someone who's left an indelible mark on American culture)
Stevie Wonder

There's certainly others from the inductees who qualify, but this list is good for now.

Keep in mind that there are tons of musicians who may not have met all these qualifications, but they recorded songs that impacted the cultural landscape permanently.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 14:08pm


Zach, this might be a bit of a stretch but Billy Bragg is sort of like the "Bob Dylan of the UK" except he started out performing and such around the height of the punk movement. He's a fairly political individual, which of course means he incorporates his political leanings (like Phil Ochs, Guthrie, Seeger & Co. he's a leftie) into his music. So in other words, if you knew who he was (he really isn't as well-known in the US as the UK) I'm pretty sure you wouldn't like him ;)

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 14:15pm


Actually, yeah, it's a stretch.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 14:17pm


i don't get why people think of dylan as if he was only ever a protest singer, after 1965 he pretty much stopped putting political stuff in his music, and even sabotaged himself with Self Portrait so people wouldn't look to him as the generations voice, he was pretty sick of it all.

Posted by GFW on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 15:21pm


GFW, I didn't mean as if he's the only one/solely a protest singer. He's just the one that has aged the best/the one John Q. Public is the most familiar with.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 15:34pm


I wasn't referencing your post, just thinking out loud.

yeah, he's the only protest singer that is well known apart from RATM if you consider them (I don't see why not, what's to say a protest band can't use rap and electric guitar, doesn't all have to be acoustic stuff!)

Posted by GFW on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 15:37pm


GFW, you're absolutely right. I don't consider Bob Dylan to be only a protest singer, as his music encompasses far more than just protest music. Let's not forget that Dylan rejected offers to play at the Woodstock Festival, even though he lived in Woodstock, NY. Dylan was also going through a reclusive period during this time, in part because of the motorcycle accident he had in 1966. He wasn't too pleased about the hippies that were showing up at his home and pestering him. Dylan even said in his book Chronicles - Volume 1, "I wanted to set fire to these people. These gate-crashers, spooks, trespassers, demagogues were all disrupting my home life.”

I'm not a huge fan of Bob Dylan, mainly because of his voice. I have mounds of respect for Dylan as a songwriter and even like a few of his songs. Reading about his dislike of hippies and the whole counterculture only strengthens my respect for him.

Tahvo, even if I did live in the UK, I doubt I'd be any more familiar with Bragg's music. I avoid most punk music in general, either because of the incomprehensible vocals (Hardcore punk is total garbage because of this) or the political brainwashing. I do enjoy The Dictators, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Dead Boys, and a couple others, but punk generally doesn't rub me the right way.

Conservatism and liberalism both tend to attract people who can't think for themselves and need to believe in some false conception of how everyone should live. In this regard, I'm not surprised that Ochs, Guthrie, Seeger, etc., would all flock to the far left. The far right certainly attracts a lot of human refuse, too. Witness such jingoistic assholes as Toby Keith or bloviators like Ted Nugent and Hank Williams, Jr. (Even though I like their music, they need to leave the politics out).

I wish some of the other posters on FRL, who shall remain nameless, would stop accusing me of loving Ayn Rand (I've never read her literature, so how could I even like her in the first place?) or only criticizing the left. I hate anyone who uses music as a bully pulpit for their political views. How many times do I need to reiterate myself?

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 16:42pm


Yeah, the difference between Hank Williams, Sr. and Hank Williams, Jr. is quite striking. At least Junior has some songs I actually enjoy, unlike Toby Keith.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Tuesday, 05.8.12 @ 17:04pm


Hey BSLO, I can't believe I didn't comment on this already, but I noticed that you borrowed my derogatory nickname for Rage Against the Machine. I'm glad to see someone else calling them Rage Against the Septic Tank. Their music is just flat out awful. Killing in the Name has some of the most repetitive, juvenile lyrics ever written (dropping the F-bomb repeatedly shows that these wankers have nothing to say), cliched guitar riffs by that bloviator Tom Morello, and obnoxious vocals by Zach de la Rocha. I've already gone over just how hypocritical these septic tank dwellers are, so there's no need to dig up that rotting corpse. After all, nothing says "anti-capitalism" like being signed to a subsidiary label of a multinational corporation. Pu-leeze!

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 06.3.12 @ 21:58pm


While my initial reaction to the notion of Phil Ochs ever being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was "ain't never gonna happen", upon further reflection I do think he'll eventually be recognized, probably as an early influence. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I think the fact that a film has been made about his life and shown on PBS coupled with the fact that is music is (finally) assessable to anyone who wants to give it a listen can only lead to greater appreciation of him as one of the best American songwriters of his era, if not of his century.

It's easy to dismiss him as just a topical songwriter (as Bob Dylan publically did, causing permanent damage to friend's psyche), but his knack for identifying subjects that would still be relevant 50 years later was remarkable. And no one before or since has been able to do what he did with those topics. His songs were uniformly lyrical and funny and melodic, but he never allowed himself the luxury of hiding behind metaphors. His "Crucifixion" is the greatest piece of poetry ever written about mass hero worship and destruction, with each stanza more beautiful and frightening than the next, but there is never any doubt about the picture he is painting with his words. That's an incredibly difficult thing to accomplish, and some who knew them both claim Dylan deeply envied Ochs' talent, just as Phil envied Dylan's fame.

If history continues to get kinder to Phil Ochs, as I suspect it will, he will eventually be inducted into the HOF.

Posted by Trace on Saturday, 12.8.12 @ 13:19pm


Neil Young: "My influences were Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. And yes, in that order."

Posted by Trace on Saturday, 12.8.12 @ 13:24pm


That's nice that Neil Young considers Phil Ochs one of his primary influences. Still doesn't refute my point that for every major name influenced by Ochs (Probably no more than 5-6, tops), there at least ten or a dozen obscurities who can make the same claim.

Also, Ochs should not be inducted as an Early Influence (He shouldn't be inducted period, but that's besides the point), because his career does not pre-date rock 'n roll. Hank Williams, Louis Jordan, The Ink Spots, Nat King Cole, Les Paul, and others whose careers began well before rock 'n roll (before the 1950s) are Early Influences.

I've already explained why writing songs about political topics damages the songs' chances of having any relevance to future generations, so there's no need to dig up that corpse. If you doubt that, then explain why dreck like Eve of Destruction, Give Peace a Chance, Get Together, and In the Year 2525 is mostly forgotten and has aged badly.

I fear that Ochs is becoming the latest Coven/Senses Fail/ICP/Toko Hotel/Steve Perry/Simple Plan around here. It seems that the acts with the least import bring the nutcases out of the woodwork to defend them, no matter how weak their cases for induction may be. Writing topical songs does not an artist make. I listen to music for the instrumental performances first. When I want poetry, I'll go to the genuine article (Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, etc.)

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 12.8.12 @ 19:49pm


I reckon In The Year 2525 is a godo song, but only the cover by Visage and that's more to do with how awesome it sounds on synth. But then again, what dosen't sound cool on synths?

Posted by GFW on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 07:39am


You seriously believe the "Early Influence" category isn't going to evolve over the coming years and decades?

It will.

"Writing topical songs does not an artist make."

With regards to Ochs, I couldn't disagree with this more for the reasons explained above. Not to mention the fact that he was far more than just a topical songwriter. Check out his A&M albums on Spotify.

As for the commment about that 2525 song which I fortunately haven't heard in decades, what does crap like that have to do with Phil Ochs?


Have you ever listed to Ochs or do you just type about him?

Posted by Trace on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 14:38pm


Yes, I've said it before somewhere. The early influence category will evolve to include all acts from the late 50's who don't get enough votes in the performers category. Phil Ochs doesn't count. He started in the 60's. Phil Ochs will get enough votes in the main performers category. If Laura Nyro got in, Phil Ochs will get in.

Posted by Roy on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 20:16pm


Roy, that is exactly one of the problems with the Rock 'n Roll of Fame. It makes no sense for artists who came to prominence during the beginning of the Rock era to be inducted as Early Influences. I don't need to recap the Wanda Jackson and Freddie King debacles to illustrate this.

The Hall is committing an act of historical revisionism by inducting rock 'n roll acts as Early Influences. The Hall should have inducted all the worthy 1950s Performers during its first ten years, but there are still some who are not yet in and deserve it (i.e., The Big Bopper, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Chuck Willis, etc.). Sadly, the Hall will induct them as Early Influences (that is, if they ever are inducted) rather than as performers even though they began recording in the 1950s. As someone who is fiercely dedicated to preserving the music of the first generation of rock 'n rollers and making sure that they will not be forgotten, this infuriates me to no end.

Trace, I mentioned In the Year 2525 because it is a prime example of a topical song that has dated horrendously and has been mostly forgotten. Ochs's material has dated just as poorly because of its heavy-handed topical references. You don't hear Vietnam and Richard Nixon references anymore because they're no longer relevant.

I wouldn't be critiquing if I never bothered listening to his material (Oh how I wish I could get that time back!). Ignoring the political BS, he's not all that special as a singer or guitarist. Folk generally does not demand superb musicianship or singing (Certainly not the kind to be found in jazz, blues, country, some forms of rock 'n roll, and other, superior genres), and Ochs is no different from his contemporaries in those regards. His singing voice is drab and unenthusiastic (His Buddy Holly Medley is better than most of his material because he at least attempts to show some excitement in his vocals, but fails because he tries too hard to emulate Holly's vocals without adding anything new), while his guitar playing is too mellow and soft. If anything, he helped pave the way for the atrocious '70s singer-songwriters like John Denver and Gordon Lightfoot. Thankfully, all of that crap is now gathering dust in the record bins at consignment stores, right next to various other atrocities like Ray Conniff, Air Supply, and The McGuire Sisters.

I'm not trying to ruin your enjoyment of Ochs, but be a little realistic here. This guy had nonexistent commercial success/cultural impact/innovation and minimal influence. To try to raise him to the level of the Immortals (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Robert Johnson, Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Bill Monroe, Nat King Cole, B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Dave Brubeck, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Velvet Underground, Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna etc.) is mind boggling.

Astrodog pretty much nailed it when he provided his analysis of Phil Ochs.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 22:24pm


In the 2525 by Zager and Evans was written by Phil Ochs?

Posted by Roy on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 22:36pm


In the Year 2525 by Zager and Evans was written by Phil Ochs?

Posted by Roy on Sunday, 12.9.12 @ 22:37pm


No, Phil Ochs didn't write In the Year 2525. He was an outstanding song writer, and I'm not sure that even qualifies as a song. And Ochs did not have any hits. I think the closest he came was "There But For Fortune" which was covered by Joan Baez. He was also covered by other mainstream artists like John Denver, Peter Paul and Mary and Gordon Lightfoot, but Phil’s songs always sounded more powerful when he was the one singing them.

"If Laura Nyro got in, Phil Ochs will get in."

You could be right. It's also true that Ochs's stature as a 1960's cultural icon continues to grow. Consider it a form of historical revisionism if you will, but the fact remains that he wrote songs that were both relevant to his time and place but also eerily prescient. And in retrospect, he was pretty much right about everything which should negate any argument that he is "too political" to be considered for induction. Ochs doesn’t sound radical today, he just sounds rational. And his songs are haunting and beautiful and amusing and always melodic.

Anecdotal case in point about Ochs and 60’s culture and history, I have some Ochs CDs in my collection and my niece who is a senior in high school pulled out a couple a few weeks ago and said, “We listened to this guy in psychology class last year.” Bipolar disease, I asked? No, apparently they were talking about group apathy and the story of Kitty Genovese who was slowly stabbed to death in Queens while dozens of people listened in their apartments and did nothing. The 30-something teacher played "Outside of a Small Circle of Friends" for them which is a half century old but of course entirely on point.

I don't think Phil Ochs is going to fade away any time soon and if he doesn't I can see him being inducted on his own merit sometime in the next decade.

Posted by Arrowsmith on Monday, 12.10.12 @ 14:31pm


Zach, I ran across an article in RS & I found this album you might like. Try 'Freedom is a Hammer', a compilation of right-wing songs. Said one called 'Poor Left Winger' is a good listen. Another one called 'Commie Lies' is by Janet Greene (you should like that one, she really gores our Ochs).

Enjoy & Merry Christmas!

Posted by Paul in KY on Tuesday, 12.11.12 @ 07:42am


Paul, there's no other way I can say this, but here goes:

FOAD, already

Seriously, you are a major thorn in my side. I have told you time and again that I have no political affiliations, and I loathe the right and the left equally. Don't say "Oh, I don't believe you" because you have no evidence to the contrary. You're just a typical Internet coward looking to pick fights. You'll lose every time you try to offer your half-witted theorizing and ASSumptions.

This political BS should have ended already, but no, you keep beating a dead corpse just to satisfy your twisted conspiracy theories. Shouldn't you be doing something more constructive with your life, like running around in traffic or poking a beehive with a stick?

I have no interest in that album you mentioned. It sounds like a complete waste of time, just like you. Why bother with that crap when I have so much great real music to listen to (recent acquisitions include albums by Cab Calloway, Al Jolson, Billy Ward and His Dominoes, Judas Priest, Muddy Waters, Mott the Hoople, The Cars, Woody Herman, and Count Basie, to name some)?

Don't ever reply to me again, you schmuck.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 12.11.12 @ 09:11am


Zach, I think Paul is doing to you what you said he should do to that proverbial beehive. I think your long reply to every little comment of his is exactly what he's looking for.

In other words he's selected you to troll (for whatever reason, most likely because you ruffled his feathers at some point) and I don't think he's going to stop until you stop replying to him.

Just an observation.

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Tuesday, 12.11.12 @ 10:00am


I think Tahvo is on to me...Dammit, must hope dingbat who can sling verbal bombs all day, yet can't seem to take a little tweaking, doesn't catch on to my modus operandi.

Posted by Paul in KY on Wednesday, 12.12.12 @ 12:41pm


"If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. There's no use being a damn fool about it." - W.C. Fields

You'd do well to take the advice of one of the greatest comedians of all time.

Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 12.12.12 @ 15:54pm


Arrowsmith, I missed your comments, but thankfully it appears that you were just a typical hit-and-run poster. I can't resist the opportunity to tear your post apart though.

"Anecdotal case in point about Ochs and 60’s culture and history, I have some Ochs CDs in my collection and my niece who is a senior in high school pulled out a couple a few weeks ago and said, “We listened to this guy in psychology class last year.” blah blah blah..."

You should know that isolated anecdotes like yours do not strengthen Ochs's case for the Hall. In case you aren't aware, anecdotal evidence is too weak to support an argument and is based more on isolated cases rather than common trends that can be proven. Too bad the students had to suffer through the droning whine of Ochs.

"You could be right. It's also true that Ochs's stature as a 1960's cultural icon continues to grow. Consider it a form of historical revisionism if you will, but the fact remains that he wrote songs that were both relevant to his time and place but also eerily prescient. blah blah blah"

If you consider a barely-seen documentary and a proposed film that hasn't even reached the production stage evidence of his stature increasing in prominence, then I think you need to reevaluate your priorities. Among 1960s artists, Ochs is a blip in the radar. He did not fuse together disparate styles to create new genres, nor he bring any new twists to already-established genres. Folk music is a rather limited style to begin with, and history shows that the only folkies from the 1960s who have survived are Bob Dylan and The Byrds. Most of the people who have covered Ochs are fellow folkies, most of whom are as equally obscure and unimportant.

Ochs has never been a heavyweight of '60s music, and he does not even belong in the same universe as the likes of The Beatles, Dylan, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Doors, The Ventures, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Byrds, James Brown and the Famous Flames, The Yardbirds, Otis Redding, and others who were more significant in the 1960s and still remain important figures. Ochs belongs with fellow stale '60s folkies like Peter, Paul, & Mary, Joan Baez, and The New Christy Minstrels, as well as others '60s schlock figures like Engelbert Humperdinck, Bobby Vinton, The Archies, and The 1910 Fruitgum Company. Ochs just happened to latch on to a fad that was big in the late '60s, namely Vietnam War protest songs, but as soon as the war ended, he and his ilk became immediately irrelevant. They had nothing else to offer to music and that is why they are only found in the LP collections at places like The Salvation Army and Goodwill, where all shlock music goes to die*.

"I don't think Phil Ochs is going to fade away any time soon and if he doesn't I can see him being inducted on his own merit sometime in the next decade."

Too late, he faded away almost 40 years ago and is merely a footnote in the pantheon of music figures from the 1960s, and music in general

*Although The Salvation Army and Goodwill do sometimes receive LPs by good artists to sell, the vast majority of what they stock are outdated traditional pop/cocktail singers (i.e., Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Harry Belafonte, Al Martino), folk (i.e., The Kingston Trio, PP&M, Ochs, Baez, etc.), easy listening/instrumental pop (i.e., Mantovani, Arthur Fiedler/Boston Pops, Guy Lombardo, Ray Conniff), singer-songwriter pablum (i.e., John Denver, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Harry Chapin, etc.), wimpy soft rock (i.e., Linda Ronstadt, Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Seals & Crofts, etc.), and all sorts of other dreck (i.e., Michael Bolton, Yanni, Mitch Miller, Jim Nabors, Roger Whittaker, etc.)

Posted by Zach on Thursday, 08.8.13 @ 22:46pm


Neil Young did a beautiful rendition of Phil Ochs's "Changes" at Farm Aid 2013 a couple of weeks ago and in his intro told Phil's story, calling him one of the greatest songwriters and poets to have ever lived.

Ochs does not belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a couple of different reasons (one being that he was not really a rock artist and another being that he's hardly a household name) but Young is right. He is one of history's greatest songwriters and those who dismiss him because they think he only belonged to one time and place or because he never cracked the Top 40 or because they don't think they like his political viewpoints are missing out on some truly amazing stuff.

Posted by Caroline on Sunday, 10.27.13 @ 20:13pm


You Phil Ochs fans are still at it? Jeeze, and I thought astrodog had it tough with the Linda Ronstadt cult. It's amazing how the artists with the least historical significance and musical impact attract the most rabid defenders around here (Ochs, Coven, Ronstadt, Simple Plan, Senses Fail, Insane Clown Posse, etc.)

Caroline, I'm not going to regurgitate my prior arguments why Phil Ochs doesn't belong in the Hall. You can scroll up this page and peruse them at your own leisure. However, I will dispute Neil Young's laughable claim of Ochs being "one of the greatest songwriters and poets to have ever lived." First off, Ochs wasn't a poet. Poets write poems to be read, not to be sung or accompanied by music. Calling Ochs a poet is an insult to real poets like Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot and others.

As far as songwriters go, Ochs never wrote any songs that became cultural landmarks. Let's face it, this schmuck doesn't even belong in the same category as Irving Berlin, Chuck Berry, George M. Cohan, John Lennon & Paul McCartney (despite my dislike of them, they are objectively among the greats), Bob Dylan (ditto), Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Willie Dixon, Duke Ellington, George & Ira Gershwin, Fats Waller, and Hank Williams. All of the above have written several songs that are well remembered, have been covered by numerous artists (many of whom are very significant), and stand the test of time. Ochs's songs have mostly been covered by obscure artists, fellow folkies (most of whom are as equally unimportant), and a few (no more than at least 3-4) important artists. Big whoop.

Lastly, I'm glad you agree that Ochs is not worthy of HOF enshrinement. The only Hall he belongs in is the Salvation Army/Goodwill Hall of Outdated Junk Music, along with Percy Faith, Peter Paul & Mary, Engelbert Humperdink, and others.

My tastes in music are excellent enough. Why waste my time with an untalented folkie like Ochs when I got real legends in my playlist like Charlie Parker, Bill Monroe, Louis Jordan, David Bowie, and The Cure?

Posted by Zach on Monday, 10.28.13 @ 14:04pm


Songwriting, poetry...Nothing alike!

Posted by Paul in KY on Tuesday, 10.29.13 @ 07:26am


Paul, I see you've switched your game from making assumptions to attributing words to others that were never spoken in the first place. Please point out where I said that songwriting and poetry share nothing in common. I know you can't do it, because you've dug yourself such a deep hole that no rope is long enough to reach you.

While there are similarities between the two forms, poetry and songwriting are two distinct things. Have you ever tried reading lyrics as opposed to singing them? I have, and even the words of my favorite songwriters don't come off as effectively if they are merely read aloud and not sung or accompanied by music. Then again, I'm of the school of thought that music is more important than lyrics, so it's really not an issue I feel compelled to lecture on for pages and pages. There are specific songwriters who I admire, but musicianship rules the roost for me (Singing ability comes a very close second in my criteria for enjoying music).

Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 10.30.13 @ 17:13pm


Phil Ochs deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Next to Bob Dylan, he wrote some of the greatest protest songs of the early rock era. He also played in the concert protesting the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago and helped found the "Yipee" party!

Posted by Bob L on Monday, 09.29.14 @ 17:39pm


"Though fashions changed and critics sneered
The songs that I have sung
Are just as true tonight as then
The struggle carries on
The struggle carries on"

When the song of freedom rings out loud
From valleys and from hills
Where people stand up for their rights
Phil Ochs is with us still
Phil Ochs inspires us still

Posted by Marley on Monday, 11.24.14 @ 22:56pm


I just want to denounce Zach's comments as completely insane bullshit, and to ignore anything he has said so far. A "music snob" with seemingly awful taste in music and whose arguments make no sense should anybody bother to research his claims.

I know it was a while ago, but I find it appalling to see this douchebag talking about how much more important the music is than the lyrics, and then use this rationale to denounce the man who released "Pleasures of the Harbor" and "Tape from California", records that he has obviously not heard.

Posted by Derek on Thursday, 01.15.15 @ 02:21am


Derek, his comments 'make sense' if you look at him as an Ayn Rand loving crackpot who only dislikes lyrics with a social meaning when they proffer a different future than a boot in the face of humanity forever.

Posted by Paul in KY on Thursday, 01.15.15 @ 07:20am


They will induct him the way they inducted Laura Nyro, and sadly, before Joan Baez.

Posted by Roy on Thursday, 01.15.15 @ 12:22pm


Paul, it must be fun to believe that your delusional fantasies have any basis in reality. I've never read a single paragraph or sentence penned by Ayn Rand. I have no interest in her work anyway (Haven't I told you enough times I hate liberals and conservatives equally?). I'd rather read Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, or Ernest Hemingway. You have no evidence to support your "Ayn Rand-loving crackpot" statement." The burden of proof lies on your shoulders. Unfortunately, you have none, so all you have to depend on are baseless statements and paranoid theories. Seriously, let it go.

Derek, for you to claim that my taste in music is awful is hysterical. How exactly is preferring jazz or blues awful taste in music? I wouldn't exactly call Louis Jordan and Little Walter (two favorites of mine) bad musicians. They're both monumental figures in music and certainly influenced more important names, achieved more success, and fostered more innovations and creativity than your precious Phil Ochs. Let's face it, folk isn't known for the kind of progressive elements that permeate jazz or other complex genres. I view music primarily through an art for art's sake POV. I just want competent musicianship. Lyrics are collateral unless they're interpreted with absolute conviction (i.e., Billie Holiday's performance of Strange Fruit, one of the very, very few songs with a message that I enjoy).

BTW, I have listened to excerpts from Pleasures of the Harbor and Tape from California. Outside of A Small Circle of Friends is such a hokey-sounding song, with that absurd piano backing that sounds so inappropriate and Ochs' nasally whining. Ochs was a musical dilettante who merely wanted to cross over to the pop crowd, hence his attempts as "experimentive albums". He doesn't strike me as the type who would be adventurous enough to collaborate with someone like Ahmad Jamal or Link Wray or cover a Django Reinhardt or Professor Longhair composition.

Hope this is the last time I ever have to check in on the Phil Ochs. Amazing how some people just can't let go of old grudges.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 13:35pm


EDIT-Hope this is the last time I ever have to check in on the Phil Ochs page.

BTW Derek, take a long walk off a short pier.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 13:38pm


I was wondering when you were going to check in, Zach.

Wouldn't you have to concede that some of your previous comments, preserved for the ages, might lead some to think you have it in for songs/composers who try to promote progressive ideals through song?

I haven't ever heard you denounce the Horst Wessel Lied, for example.

Posted by Paul in KY on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 15:17pm


Well, Paul, I'll have you know that I detest the Nazi ideology, so that song you cited would never find a home in my iTunes library or CD collection. Ditto for all that atrocious skinhead rock which is every bit as distasteful and damaging to the ears as pseudo-anarchist bands like Rage Against the Machine (while being signed to Sony). If you were trying to imply that I'm an anti-Semite, then you failed.

I consider Toby Keith's Angry American one of the worst songs ever written. Being proud of your country is fine as long as it doesn't degenerate into race-baiting like Keith does. He's pond scum.

This earlier comment from BSLO summarizes my feelings on politics in music succinctly.

"I think that Zach just doesn't like music with any political overtone period (left or right)."

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 15:30pm


For the record, Paul, I hate music that tries to promote any type of social message, although I do enjoy Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, but that's a very rare exception that proves the rule. We already have the news to disseminate information about current events. There's absolutely nothing you can learn from a song about social inequalities that you can't already find in an op-ed, history textbook, or documentary. Musicians should be more concerned with perfecting their technical abilities and playing complex solos or instrumentals. Music only evolves when new methods of playing instruments, chord progressions, and overall sounds are cultivated and expanded. Consulting the news for topics to write songs about doesn't signify any kind of progression in music. That's regression.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 17:38pm


Hi, Zach, nice to hear from you.

I personally enjoy songs that have a political message tired to them and that is one of the biggest problems I have with today's music is a lack of political awareness. Now with that said, I will admit that some political songs tend to be a little preachy and what the artist is singing about one can also read in a history book or watch in a documentary as you said.

I didn't know you liked Hemingway's books. I personally have never read any on his work, but I wouldn't mind reading some of his stuff. Do you have any recommendations when it comes to Hemingway or Edgar Allen Poe for me?

Posted by Andrew on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 18:22pm


One more thing, Zach, why do you hate songs with a political message?

Posted by Andrew on Tuesday, 01.20.15 @ 18:27pm


Zach, we'll have to agree to disagree on messages thru music & how they can positively affect society, but I must thank you for fleshing out your thoughts on 'message music'. Have a more nuanced view of you now.

I didn't ever think you would like the odious Horst Wessel song, was just using it as a canard.

Posted by Paul in KY on Wednesday, 01.21.15 @ 07:21am


Andrew, I'd rather not reiterate my reasons for disliking message music as it's a topic that's created much strife as you can tell. Feel free to scroll up this page and review some of my previous comments. I have rigid ideas about what I enjoy in music and sociopolitical proselytizing is not something I seek in music. Just as I wouldn't expect my mailman or pizza delivery driver to lecture me on racism or war, I don't want musicians or singers to cover topics that are better left to the news. I apply this to other media like films, literature, and video games. I just want to use my imagination and enjoy myself.

These days I prefer listening mainly to instrumentally-based music (Three recent favorites of mine include Django Reinhardt, John Philip Sousa and Scott Joplin), although I still derive pleasure from most of the artists I've championed before.

Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 01.21.15 @ 12:31pm


Zach, I understand now and I'll try not to open this topic again with you. I didn't know you liked Hemingway's books. I personally have never read any on his work, but I wouldn't mind reading some of his stuff. Do you have any recommendations when it comes to Hemingway or Edgar Allen Poe for me?

Long live 50s rock n' roll!

Posted by Andrew on Wednesday, 01.21.15 @ 21:09pm


Andrew, I'd start with A Farewell to Arms for Hemingway (He wrote both short stories and novels, so whichever you prefer to start with is entirely your prerogative). It's a poignant narrative that blends romance and war (It's set during WWI, BTW). I got into his work in college and have always found his literature to be quite enjoyable. He was fabulous at setting up and describing scenes. The Old Man and the Sea is another good place to start, especially if you enjoy maritime themes.

I've loved Poe since elementary school. Since you asked for recommendations, I have to start with the two short stories that has stuck with me through all these years: The Cask of Amontillado and The Tell-Tale Heart. Both are grim tales of murders as related by the culprits themselves. Poe was fantastic at writing stories of the macabre, especially those that dealt with madness. There are tons of anthologies containing his poems and short stories on the market, so feel free to acquire one (preferably one that is fairly comprehensive) and enjoy!

There's also some outstanding films that have adapted Poe's works or least taken inspiration from them, if you're interested. I've seen all the Roger Corman-directed movies from the 1960s. It's been a while since I've seen some of them, but in order of preference, here's how I'd rank them:

1. The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
2. The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
3. House of Usher (1960)
4. Tales of Terror (1962 - The Black Cat segment is actually a reworking of The Cask of Amontillado and is easily the best of the three in this movie)
5. The Raven (1963)
6. The Tomb of Ligeia (1964)
7. The Premature Burial (1962)

I don't count The Haunted Palace (1963) since that's actually an adaptation of an H.P. Lovecraft novella, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.

To tie this all back in to music, here's a quote from Edgar Allan Poe's essay The Poetic Principle regarding the goal of poetry that I feel applies to music and other arts just as well:

We have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem’s sake, and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force: — but the simple fact is, that, would we but permit ourselves to look into our own souls, we should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified — more supremely noble than this very poem — this poem per se — this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for the poem’s sake.

Posted by Zach on Wednesday, 01.28.15 @ 21:26pm


Have always enjoyed Mr. Lovecraft's tales.

Posted by Paul in KY on Thursday, 01.29.15 @ 07:17am


Zach I'm currently near the end of the "I Ain't Marching Anymore" album and holy hell I apologize for everything I've ever said to you.

Posted by GEffYew on Friday, 01.30.15 @ 15:46pm


Dude you are pathetic. You've been checking on this page and commenting for YEARS and all you've really managed to get across is that you don't like music with a social or political message (i.e. music that actually means something). That is really all anyone needs to read to realize that you're a moron, and that no amount of jazz or blues will cover up the fact that you are laughably narrow-minded and not to be taken seriously on the topic of music.

Unless you are just trolling. In which case, great job! Jimmies successfully rustled.

Posted by Derek on Saturday, 01.31.15 @ 00:14am


Derek, first of all, not everyone likes songs that have a political or social message and in Zach's case, he finds songs like that to be preachy and boring. So saying that Zach is narrow-minded is just wrong and the stuff he listens to doses not mean he is a moron. Everyone has different opinions when it comes to music and what they want to hear from that kind of music. Zach isn't into political songs and that's just fine. Also, I personally enjoy songs that have a political message tired to them and that is one of the biggest problems I have with today's music is a lack of political awareness, but I do find some political songs to be preachy or boring at times like "Fortunate Son", a song that I consider to be the most overrated anti-war song out there.

Lastly, learn to appreciate other's tastes rather then impose your own or call someone narrow minded, Derek.

Posted by Andrew on Saturday, 01.31.15 @ 16:11pm


I don't know what astounds me more-the fact that this thread is still limping along after nearly 3 years or that nearly 3 years has gone by since I last posted here. Where has the time gone? I'll tell you what. This site gives Phil Ochs a 10% chance of induction. If I was in Vegas I might just buy a few options above what the house was offering- say 15 to 20%. But regardless, Zach, promise me if you happen to be driving and an announcement comes over the radio that Phil Ochs has been nominated for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame that you will immediately pull over and shut down your engine. We have enough road rage out there as it is!

Posted by Arrow Man on Saturday, 01.31.15 @ 17:27pm


Back again, I see, Dork (err, I mean, Derek)? My intention was not to troll this page. If that were the case, I simply would have just posted "Phil Ochs sucks!" However, I prefer to go beyond just one-line opinions and actually provide reasoning for why I like or dislike a particular artist.

Besides the unnecessary politics, Ochs's music irritates me because of his droning voice and appalling lack of musicianship. Let's face it, the guy wasn't a Django Reinhardt or Les Paul on the guitar, which is par for the course with folkies. That Ochs broke with tradition for the two albums you cited isn't all that impressive when you consider Bob Dylan already achieved the same thing but with more success and influence. He also demonstrated his inability to make interesting covers of others' material with his Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley medleys on the Carnegie Hall album (A concert that thankfully flopped. :)) He could have thrown in some interesting changes, but instead merely aped the originals as closely as possible, thus sounding more like a cover band or impersonator.

It has never been a requirement for music to mean anything in order to be great or transcendent. The world is divided enough as it is, we don't need songwriters to jump on the bandwagon. Politically-oriented songs age badly, much like milk. The protest and counter-protest songs of the 1960s (most overrated decade for music) mean nothing to subsequent generations as the issues and landscape change constantly. I don't exactly see a Phil Ochs or Country Joe and the Fish resurgence happening anytime soon. They're odd footnotes that may occasionally arouse discussion, but nothing more. The music of the '60s that has stood the test of time is generally apolitical, such as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, The Temptations, Booker and the MG's, and Dave Brubeck.

All music needs to do is to provide pleasure to the listener. I am a strict proponent of the art for art's sake school of thought. This is why I eschew politically-based music and prefer instrumentally-based music. I don't profess to understand how to read music, but I know what sounds complex and interesting to my ears. Chord progressions, solos, technical ability, virtuosity, and the interplay among band members are all qualities I favor. Certain genres just breed more innovation and experimentation, which is why jazz has become my preferred genre these days. Whether it's ragtime, Dixieland, swing, bop, cool, Latin, or any of the other styles, I can always find something in jazz to challenge my listening and provide the ultimate form of musical excitement. I don't like all jazz, but I respect anyone who's ever picked up a trumpet, saxophone, or what-have-you and played something good.

Although I mostly avoid insults, your lack of decorum has given me no choice but to describe you with the term of endearment I used at the beginning of this post. You honestly haven't posted anything intelligent or stimulating, so just stop now.

BTW, Arrow Man, I currently don't drive due to financial and personal matters, so I won't take your advice under consderation. I'd also recommend that you keep your options as low as possible because a musical nonentity isn't worth the gamble. I pay little attention to the Hall because of their recent embarrassments. Whether Ochs ever gets inducted or not, I won't care all that much because I know his real place in history.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 02.1.15 @ 13:25pm


John Wesley Harding wrote a song titled Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Steve Goodman, David Blue & Me. Although not listed in the title, John Prine is also mentioned in the lyrics.

Posted by Zuzu on Thursday, 02.19.15 @ 16:04pm


There are at least 30 - 40 tribute songs/songs about Phil from artists across genres and decades including

"The Parade's Still Passing By" Harry Chapin
"Phil" Tom Paxton
"I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night" Billy Bragg
"Phil Ochs" Josh Joplin Group
"Thin Wild Mercury" (about Dylan and Phil) Todd Snider
"The Day" They Might Be Giants
"Patrot's Game" Arlo Guthrie

Certainly Phil Ochs never was and never will be for everyone. But he seems to have a profound impact on those who do know his music. I don't think there are too many casual fans out there. It's hardcore or nothin.

John Lennon was also impressed with Phil. Enough to have swiped his "War is Over" concept.

Will he ever be inducted? Maybe. Does it matter? His music is always going to matter, whether some folks like that thought or not.


Posted by NowhereWoman on Monday, 03.9.15 @ 23:46pm


And none of them are significant/important to the development of music as an overall art form.

John Lennon's importance is as a Beatle, not as a solo artist. Even then, you can't exactly say his overall sound owes anything to Phil Ochs. Remember, it's music (instruments/production), not lyrical content, that drives the evolution of music.

You're dead wrong about his music still mattering. The Vietnam War ended 40 years ago there's no more draft, etc. Times change, and so do the issues that resonate. His music is deservedly obscure and his songs are ancient history to those not alive during his time. Timeless music is Beethoven, Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, etc. Go read the news or a history book if you want truth. Let music just be music.

Give it up, Phil Ochs fans. Go join the Coven, Steve Perry, Insane Clown Posse, and other fanboys who've tried to prop minor acts as being the alpha and omega of music.

Posted by Zach on Tuesday, 03.10.15 @ 11:53am


Neil Young has been covering Phil Ochs in concerts for the last couple of years.

He calls him one of the greatest poets and songwriters in all of history. All. Of. History.

Lets see, some troll named Zach who has probably never listened to more than a song or two of Ochs' vs. Neil Young. If it all comes down to personal opinion, I know which I'm giving more weight to.

If anyone needs to give it up, Zach, it's you. If you want to critique someone's music, you need to at least listen to it first.

Posted by Jay C. on Friday, 03.13.15 @ 21:32pm


I'm seriously beginning to wonder if most, if not all, of these Ochs fans popping out of the woodwork are actually just the same person (or handful of people) creating multiple usernames to make it seem like there's more of a Phil Ochs fanbase than actually exists.

I'll grant you that Neil Young is fairly significant, although he's still nowhere as important as his most sycophantic followers make him out to be. Still doesn't refute the fact that Ochs hasn't influenced that many important names. Don't just think in terms of songwriting, think of actual performance, production, musicianship, and similar qualities.

Here, let me help you. Here's ten objectively important musical acts from the past 40 years. Now I want to you document whether Ochs had any influence on them musically (not lyrically, that doesn't count):

Kraftwerk
Prince
David Bowie
Roxy Music
Judas Priest
Radiohead
The Police
Depeche Mode
Madonna
Stevie Ray Vaughan

I doubt you can do it, but I love messing with you Ochs fanboys.

I've already addressed Neil's incredibly myopic praise of Ochs being "a great poet" (I imagine Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, W.H. Auden, and dozens of others all rolled in their graves when that statement was declared). As far as Ochs being a great songwriter, that's a real gutbuster. Last time I checked, great songwriters are responsible for creating songs that transcend all barriers and are world-renowned: think Irving Berlin, John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Richard Rodgers, George M. Cohan, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, Willie Dixon, Thelonious Monk, Holland-Dozier-Holland, etc. Great songwriters write with timelessness and universality in mind, not attempting to cash in on current events. Ochs doesn't deserve to be ranked among these names as he used music as a mere bully pulpit for his politics. He wrote with only the then-present in in mind, which accounts for why his music has dated so badly. Richard Nixon's no longer President (thankfully), the Vietnam War and draft are over (ditto), etc. There's no reason to revisit hokey protest songs when the events they describe have already passed and can be more accurately ascertained from history books/documentaries. We don't need music to learn about current events when we already have the proper channels of information to use.

And yes, I have listened to some of Ochs's putrid music: Tape from California and Pleasures of the Harbor (His so-called "ambitious" projects) only serve to reveal his musical limitations in that he had to depend on others to make his music sound semi-professional. His extremely limited vocal range and amateurish guitar playing are unforgivably awful. What he did to Edgar Allan Poe's The Bells is a crime that the master of macabre poetry would have been mortified to hear had he been alive in the 1960s. If you actually took the time to read my earlier posts, you'd see my critiques of some of Ochs's singles. Let's face it, this honky wasn't exactly jamming at Minton's Playhouse with Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie or swapping guitar solos with Les Paul and Jeff Beck.

I'll cut you rabid sycophants a deal: If I cease my criticisms of Ochs (which so far have all been on the money), you'll stop replying to me. Capiche? Feel free to enjoy him warts and all, but just be realistic about his actual impact on music and understand that your numbers are not growing all that much.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 03.14.15 @ 00:34am


Why would he want to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? His music certainly transcends most of the junk put out by people who call themselves "rockers," and he wasn't really one in the first place.

Much like Laura Nyro, who had to be dead like 17 years to get in, he and his music are above it all.

Posted by MiserableOldFart on Monday, 08.3.15 @ 00:17am


Well, with a username like MiserableOldFart, you've saved me the work of having to describe your taste in music.

Last time I checked, music that transcends all barriers is something like Beethoven, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Scott Joplin the Beatles, or Michael Jackson, not topical songwriters who are long outdated. Ochs is deservedly obscure and I will see to it that he remains that way.

Acquire a better taste in music. Let me help you:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_40V2lcxM7k

Posted by Zach on Thursday, 08.20.15 @ 12:59pm


He'll be inducted.

Posted by Roy on Monday, 04.25.16 @ 22:13pm


Yes, Roy. He will be inducted.

Posted by David on Friday, 07.1.16 @ 23:06pm


I don't know, David. At risk of giving Zach a woody, e's been eligible for a long time & I've never heard him mentioned as a potential nominee.

He was mentioned in relation to that Coen Brother's movie, I think.

If Zach hates him/her, I have an inclination to like them. Have listened to his music, really liked some song about California. He could be an Early Influence, but for a straight induction, there's a long line ahead of him, IMO.

Posted by Paul in KY on Sunday, 07.3.16 @ 10:21am


So much for that attempt at a truce you tried to make with me, Paul. Aren't you a middle-aged man? If so, why invest so much time into trying to goad me when you could go out and enjoy the real world and find some hobbies. You apparently still have some bizarre fascination with me, otherwise you wouldn't have invoked my name.

The fact you like Phil is an indication of where your taste lies (Hint: It ain't anything special). I've forgotten more about music than you could possibly ever know (My iPod covers well over a century of music. How many Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, and John Philip Sousa compilations/songs/albums do you have?), and unlike you, I actually enjoy music FOR music. Ochs was not an occomplished or even average musician, thus his work holds no interest for me (That, and he deserves to wallow in obscurity). Lyrics are fine, but they're not a necessity for music. It's much like movies; you can have dialogue, but as a visual art form, the images should be the foremost tool of disseminating a story. If I want profound words, I will read literature (I'm a Poe and Hemingway kind of guy).

BTW, Phil is not EI material as he does not predate the birth of rock and roll. Qualified candidates for that category include Wynonie Harris, Django Reinhardt, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Roy Brown (I'd be shocked if you even knew any of these names, considering your lack of actual knowledge).

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 07.16.16 @ 20:45pm


BTW, the only reason I bothered replying to your post was that I wanted to revisit FRL after a long absence and see what kinds of conversations were being conducted and I decided to look up some old posts of mine along the way.

I'll cut you a deal. Don't reply to anything I type and I won't respond to anything you post. Sound fair? I said everything I needed to say about my favorite whipping boy here, and see no reason for us to continue this spat. Have a good life. I'm already doing that myself.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 07.16.16 @ 20:59pm


Lady Gaga sang a relatively obscure Ochs song at a concert for delegates to the DNC.

Despite his own best efforts, Phil Ochs refuses to die.

Posted by A Girl is No One on Saturday, 07.30.16 @ 10:44am


Which song?

Posted by Roy on Saturday, 07.30.16 @ 15:21pm


Whoop-de-doo! A political convention isn't exactly the Oscars, the Tonys, or the Grammy in terms of prestigious or notable venues for performing music. Besides, covering someone else's song does not inherently translate to being influenced by that individual. Nothing about Lady Gaga, musically or stylistically, can be traced back to that nasally, untalented cracker. I hate her anyway for shameless pilfering David Bowie, Grace Jones, Jobriath, Queen, Madonna and others without adding any unique or different variations.

You Ochs fans live in a fantasy world, right next to flat earthers, Holocaust deniers, and other kooks with no perception of reality or facts. The facts remain on my side, that Ochs is NOT an innovative artist or someone who influenced scores of important artists musically (Don't bring up lyrical influence, because that is not the same as playing music), and that he is a deservedly obscure figure. The dirty '60s, Vietnam War, Nixon, hippies, etc., are ancient history, so quit living in the past.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 07.30.16 @ 15:50pm


Dude, Zach, I have exactly zero horses in this race, as I have never heard a Phil Ochs song, but there is absolutely no call for you to resort to racial epithets, nor personal attacks. It's just a folk artist we're talking about. Liking folk music is nowhere near the same level or plateau as being a Holocaust denier or a flat-earther. Think about that before you accuse others of having "no perception of reality." Might get a little of that iron out of your knee.

Posted by Philip on Saturday, 07.30.16 @ 21:00pm


Reading comprehension, Philip. I was comparing Ochs fan boys (and girls), not folk music fans in general, to Holocaust deniers and flat earthers on the basis that they have bizarre, completely unfounded beliefs. No serious musicologist or historian would anoint Ochs as one of the towering musical figures of the 20th century, as these Ochs-bots appear to do. He was and remains an obscure figure who had no hits, contributed no musical innovations or reinventions, and has primarily influenced equally obscure and unimportant acts. To say that any of his songs are still relevant is a complete fallacy given how much the issues change and even those that do still exist have different parameters from a half century or 20-30 years ago.

The "cracker" remark was in jest, as I love poking fun as music that is very white (that is, devoid of any rhythm, soul, creativity, spontaneity, excitement, energy, or passion) and bland, and Ochs (along with folk in general) fits that to a tee.

Posted by Zach on Sunday, 07.31.16 @ 12:01pm


And don't forget the people who think the earth is only 6000 to 10,000 years old.

Posted by Roy on Sunday, 07.31.16 @ 13:39pm


Yeah, but you react similarly to pretty much any folk artist. Not as strongly, but similar.

And in the midst of the rant, the humor can get lost.

Again, no horses, but it's still no justification for putting them on the same level as those people.

Posted by Philip on Sunday, 07.31.16 @ 22:47pm


Well, those who make folk music are a repellent lot in my view. I hold no ill will toward those who enjoy listening to the genre. You are correct, though, that I loathe folk more than any other music genre (I can name at least a half dozen rap/hip-hop acts I enjoy; folk doesn't even have much credit going for it). I find it bland, too simplistic, and very boring. I demand excitement, creativity, rhythm, soul, improvisation, competent musicianship (It doesn't have to be Django Reinhardt-level; it just needs to at least sound like there's some effort being made, instead of mindless strumming), and strong vocals in my music. I find none of these aspects in the execrable works of The Kingston Trio, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and other whitebread, buttermilk-complexion goofs. That said, MOR/psuedo-jazz singers (Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Frankie Laine, Pat Boone, Harry Belafonte, Al Martino, Barbra Streisand, Bobby Vinton, Guy Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, all being notable offenders), the '70s singer-songwriter trend, nu-metal, easy listening/pseudo-jazz instrumental fluff (Percy Faith, Ray Conniff, Mantovani), gangsta rap, and hardcore punk all make my blood boil nearly as much as folk. Now, if you really want to see a vitriol-ridden rant from me, ask me about Neil Young sometime. ;)

I don't know how familiar you are with film critics (I am a fairly huge movie buff, which has been one of my passions in life), but this comparison might explain my hatred for Phil Ochs in a broader context. Film/theater critic John Simon harbored (who knows, he probably still does at the ripe old age of 91) a harsh grudge against Barbra Streisand and her film roles in her '60s/'70s heyday. His attacks were merciless and caustic, much like my missives against Ochs (One of the reasons he earned my wrath was for his paint-by-numbers, glorified cover band-level medley of Buddy Holly songs at the sham of a Carnegie Hall show he performed). Here are some choice excerpts (courtesy of movie-film-review.com's Harsh Reviews section) that I find rather amusing and well-written:

Hello, Dolly! (1969)
A full-face closeup of Miss Streisand is a truly terrifying experience: as the camera moves in tighter and tighter, you know how Edmund Hillary must have felt, and there is no Tenzing Norkay to catch you if you slip, or just reel backward in horror. As for the star's acting, Machiavelli observed in a letter: “I think that just as nature has given everyone a different face, so she has given to all a different intelligence and imagination, and each acts according to this personality.” Miss Streisand, perhaps because she lacks intelligence and imagination, is obliged to act according to her face — aggressively, smugly, and with a masturbatory delight in herself.

What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
Miss Streisand looks like a cross between an aardvark and an albino rat surmounted by a platinum-coated horse bun. Though she has good eyes and a nice complexion, the rest of her is a veritable anthology of disaster areas. Her speaking voice seems to have graduated with top honors from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Yentaism, and her acting consists entirely of fishily thrusting out her lips, sounding like a cabbie bellyaching at break- neck speed, and throwing her weight around. Even her singing has become mannerism-infested, and a brief attempt at a Bogart impersonation may be the film's involuntary comic high spot. Miss Streisand is to our histrionic aesthetics what the Vietnam war is to our politics.

A Star is Born (1976)
Oh, for the gift of Rostand's Cyrano to evoke the vastness of that nose alone as it cleaves the giant screen from east to west, bisects it from north to south. It zigzags across our horizon like a bolt of fleshy lightning; it towers like a ziggurat made of meat. The hair is now something like the wig of the fop in a Restoration comedy; the speaking voice continues to sound like Rice Krispies if they could talk. And Streisand's notion of acting is to bulldoze her way from one end of a line to the other without regard for anyone or anything; you can literally feel her impatience for the other performer to stop taIking so she can take over again. If dialogue there is, it is that between a steamroller and the asphalt beneath it. And then I realize with a gasp that this Barbra Streisand is in fact beloved above all other female stars by our moviegoing audiences; that this hypertrophic ego and bloated countenance are things people shell out money for as for no other actress; that this progressively more belligerent caterwauling can sell anything — concerts, records, movies. And I feel as if our entire society were ready to flush itself down in something even worse than a collective death wish—a collective will to live in ugliness and self-debasement.

Posted by Zach on Saturday, 08.6.16 @ 01:03am


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