Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"I ain't marching anymore"

Libertarian Critter highlighted a couple of his favorite antiwar songs on his blog yesterday — an Afrobeat number called “Indictment” by Brooklyn-based Antibalas and Bob Dylan’s classic “Masters of War.” Dylan I know very well. Antibalas I’ll have to check out.

Anyway, the Critter’s comments got me searching through my CDs again for Phil Ochs. Every time some president starts rattling sabers, I listen to Ochs. Two years ago, for the first few months of the war in Iraq, I had Ochs on my car’s CD-changer constantly. Then he was gradually replaced by some Miles Davis, some Doors, and a little Elvis Costello. This morning, though, I’m slipping Ochs’ There But for Fortune and Rehearsals for Retirement into the changer.

It’s hard to beat Dylan for protest music, especially antiwar music, but I think Phil Ochs did. Ochs was Dylan’s contemporary. I understand he always wanted to be Bob Dylan. Lucky for us, he was Phil Ochs instead.

I caught onto Ochs in high school, way back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. He’d already been writing and singing for years. His stuff is still poignant...and relevant. Here’s his classic “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” still dead-on:

“For I flew the final mission in the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning
I knew that I was learning
That I ain’t marchin’ anymore

“The labor leader’s screamin’ when they close the missile plant
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it ‘peace’ or call it ‘treason’
Call it ‘love’ or call it ‘reason’
But I ain’t marchin’ anymore”

Now, listen to “The War is Over”:

“I declare the war is over
It’s over, it’s over

“So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die”

I finally saw Phil Ochs perform live in Summer 1975, at Doug Weston’s Troubadour in L.A. He was so drunk, he could barely perform three or four songs before leaving the stage. A few months later, at age 35, Ochs was dead...a suicide.

But in my house, Phil Ochs lives forever.

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At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silly, self-indulgent lyrics, suitable for stoners and the refuse of the diploma mills, stirs the socially challenged parasites. Their synthetic emotions, which are deemed admirable by the tired reader, serve only to arouse an unbidden surge of pity in the breast of the discriminating observer of the degenerate's milieu. There exists so much art that is worthwhile! Why waste time on the counterfeit?

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance you can share a tune or two via Freeman's new tool, YouSendIt?

And are you familiar with The Association's great antiwar song, Requiem for the Masses?


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