Monday, Phil looking back at us, singing a song inspired by Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.
“Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there. If Casy knowed, why, I’ll be in the way guys yell when they’re mad an’ — I’ll be in the way kids laugh when they’re hungry an’ they know supper’s ready. An’ when our folks eat the stuff they raise an’ live in the houses they build — why, I’ll be there.”–The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
“Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.”—Pretty Boy Floyd, Woody Guthrie
Thanks to YouTuber HiddenFormula
Monday, we return to the original feelings…
Phil Ochs’s birthday is December 19th. This lovely song was not on any of the original albums, though it was released later. He sung it on the air at WBAI radio in 1965, where he explained that this song was heavily influenced by his reading of the poetry of Yeats.
Thanks to YouTuber Krutponken
And thanks to Phil Ochs fan Claire Stohlman who corrected me on the date for Phil’s birthday.
December 19th was, jarringly, the 75th anniversary of the birth of folk singer Phil Ochs. Jarringly, because Phil, who died too soon, seemed to be the embodiment of youthful energy, creativity, and rebellion. His songs decrying the United States of War sound as fresh and pointed now as they did back then. The song above, co-written with Bob Gibson, is on Phil’s first album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing.
Monday’s child trumps off to war yet once more.
Among the political left, there has long been a tradition of the radical folk song masked as a patriotic ditty. Paul Robeson sung “The House I Live In” and “Ballad for Americans”; Woody Guthrie sung “This Land Is Your Land”; Pete Seeger sung “If I Had a Hammer,” and so on.
Phil Ochs, who died 39 years ago last week, continued that tradition. “The Power and the Glory” was Phil’s stirring contribution to the genre. He was clever enough in constructing the song that it was covered by arch-conservative songbird Anita Bryant.
Phil’s anthem gets you out of bed Monday morning, saluting the flag, and stuffing The Communist Manifesto in your back pocket en route to the demo.
Click on the video for the song, and the words in English and Spanish, and an additional unrecorded final verse reportedly written by Theo Bikel.