19th July 2012
Link reblogged from with 6 notes
Here’s a piece I wrote for my friends over at Full Stop. As the title would suggest, it’s about Phil Ochs. I’d just watched There But for Fortune, the documentary about him, and now I find myself in the throes of a Phil Ochs kick. Follow the attached link or go to the Full Stop Tumblr to read more.
It’s tough to say if a figure like Ochs could exist now. Stylistic irony (i.e. anachronism) has become a hallmark of the sound of the last decade; one aspect of this sound is a lyrical tendency to romanticize or even mythologize oneself. In his own way, Ochs is guilty of it too: in There But For Fortune, friends and family mention that Ochs wanted to be a cross between John Wayne and Elvis, both folk heroes of the entertainment industry. That fantasy imploded as Vietnam ended and “there were no more dragons left to kill”; Ochs took his own life in April of 1976, three weeks before the first anniversary of the official end of the conflict. Still, Ochs’ music is predicated on unselfishness: he often uses the first person, but only to explain his personal relationship to his own time, and by extension to his listeners. It might seem out of place in an idiom that’s become preoccupied with inter/intrapersonal relationships, and the abstract life of the mind. It might also seem refreshing. […]