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phil ochs Quotes

Phil Ochs Quotes

Birth Date: 1940-12-19 (Thursday, December 19th, 1940)
Date of Death: 1976-04-09 (Friday, April 9th, 1976)



    • Before the days of television and mass media, the folksinger was often a traveling newspaper spreading tales through music. There is an urgent need for Americans to look deeply into themselves and their actions, and musical poetry is perhaps the most effective mirror available. Every newspaper headline is a potential song.
    • In every political community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects. Ten degrees to the left of center in good times. Ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally. Here, then, is a lesson in safe logic.
    • Does defending liberalism leave you friendless and perhaps wondering about your breath?
    • I was over there, entertaining the troops. I won't say which troops.
    • Leave the old and dying America and use your creative energies to help form a new America, which would be de-militarized, more humanistic, where the police are less hostile and closer to the community, where the wealthy are not given unleashed power for the exploitation of the people. And, mostly because it's now a matter of life and death, reassert an ecological balance with the environment, which means the people in the oil companies and the car companies and the space industry and all the other industries will have to be brought into account, so that there will be a new definition of government which has to be closer to the people and less close to special interests which are far more harmful than any revolutionaries.
    • I write all my own songs and they are just simple melodies with a lot of lyrics. They usually have to do with current events and what is going on in the news. You can call them topical songs, songs about the news, and then developing into more philosophical songs later.
    • MR. KUNSTLER: Now, Mr. Ochs, have you ever been associated with what is called the Youth International Party, or, as we will say, the Yippies? THE WITNESS: Yes. I helped design the party, formulate the idea of what Yippie was going to be, in the early part of 1968. MR. KUNSTLER: Can you indicate to the Court and jury what Yippie was going to be, what its purpose was for its formation? THE WITNESS: The idea of Yippie was to be a form of theater politics, theatrically dealing with what seemed to be an increasingly absurd world and trying to deal with it in other than just on a straight moral level. They wanted to be able to act out fantasies in the street to communicate their feelings to the public.
    • I can spare a dime, brother, but in these morally inflationary times, a dime goes a lot farther if it's demanding work rather than adding to the indignity of relief.
    • America is two Mack trucks colliding on a superhighway because all the drivers are on amphetamines.
    • It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life.
    • God isn't dead - he's just missing in action.
    • Now they sing out his praises on every distant shore But so few remember what he was fightin' for Oh why sing the songs and forget about the aim? He wrote them for a reason, why not sing them for the same?
    • Yet she's only as rich as the poorest of the poor Only as free as a padlocked prison door Only as strong as our love for this land Only as tall as we stand!
    • Here is a land full of power and glory Beauty that words cannot recall Oh her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom Her glory shall rest on us all.
    • It's always the old to lead us to the war It's always the young to fall Now look at all we've won with the sabre and the gun Tell me is it worth it all.
    • Call it peace or call it treason, Call it love or call it reason, But I ain't marching anymore!
    • Well I've seen travel in many ways I've traveled in cars and old subways But in Birmingham some people chose To fly down the street from a fire hose. Doin' some hard travelin'...from hydrants of plenty.
    • And the evil is done in hopes that evil surrenders but the deeds of the devil are burned too deep in the embers and a world of hunger in vengeance will always remember So please be reassured, we seek no wider war, we seek no wider war.
    • Dump the reds in a pile, boys Dump the reds in a pile You'd better wipe off that smile, boys Better wipe off that smile We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck We'll find you a leader that you can't elect Those treaties we signed were a pain in the neck 'Cause we're the cops of the world, boys We're the cops of the world.
    • And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here.
    • 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 to young to die I declare the war is over It's over, it's over.
    • Oh you tell me that there's danger to the land you call your own And you watch them build the war machine right beside your home And you tell me that you're ready to go marchin' to the war I know you're set for fighting, but what are you fighting for?
    • I watched my life fade-away in a flash A quarter of a century dash through closets full of candles with never a room For rapture through a kingdom had been captured. And so I turn away from my drizzling furniture and pass old ladies Sniffling by movie stars' tombs, yes I must be home again soon. To face the unspoken unguarded thoughts of habitual hearts A vanguard of electricians a village full of tarts Who say you must protest you must protest It is your diamond duty... Ah but in such an ugly time the true protest is beauty And the bleeding seer crawled from the ruins of the empire And stood bleeding, bleeding on the border He said, passion has led to chaos and now chaos will lead to order. Oh I have been away for a while and I hope to be back again soon.
    • I'm gonna give all I've got to give Cross my heart, and I hope to live.
    • The painter paints his brushes black Through the canvas runs a crack Portrait of the pain never answers back.
    • Look outside the window, there's a woman being grabbed They've dragged her to the bushes and now she's being stabbed Maybe we should call the cops and try to stop the pain But Monopoly is so much fun, I'd hate to blow the game And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody Outside of a small circle of friends.
    • 'Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends'
    • Smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer, But a friend of ours was captured and they gave him thirty years Maybe we should raise our voices, ask somebody why But demonstrations are a drag, besides we're much too high.
    • In the green fields a turnin', a baby is born His cries crease the wind and mingle with the morn An assault upon the order, the changing of the guard Chosen for a challenge that is hopelessly hard And the only single sound is the sighing of the stars But to the silence and distance they are sworn.
    • So dance dance dance Teach us to be true Come dance dance dance 'Cause we love you
    • Images of innocence charge him go on But the decadence of destiny is looking for a pawn To a nightmare of knowledge he opens up the gate And a blinding revelation is laid upon his plate That beneath the greatest love is a hurricane of hate And God help the critic of the dawn.
    • They say they can't believe it, it's a sacreligious shame Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game? But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small. Tell me every detail, I've got to know it all, And do you have a picture of the pain?
    • Time takes her toll and the memory fades but his glory is broken, in the magic that he made. Reality is ruined; it's the freeing from the fear The drama is distorted, to what they want to hear Swimming in their sorrow, in the twisting of a tear As they wait for a new thrill parade.
    • When they show the destruction of society on color TV, I want to be able to look out over Los Angeles and make sure they get it right.
    • The final story, the final chapter of Western man, I believe, lies in Los Angeles.
    • Leaving America is like losing twenty pounds and finding a new girlfriend.
    • A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for bullshit.
    • And if there's any hope for America, it lies in a revolution, and if there's any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara.
    • One good song with a message can bring a point more deeply to more people than a thousand rallies.
    • The American Politician has developed into the gutless master of procrastination with a maximum of non-committal statement and the barest minimum of action. This moral vacuum is exceeded only by the apathetic public who allows him to stay in power.
    • [The Yippie demonstrations were] merely an attack of mental disobedience on an obediently insane society ... and if you feel you have been living in an unreal world for the last couple of years, it is particularly because this power structure has refused to listen to reason ... Step outside the guidelines of the official umpires and make your own rules and your own reality.
    • I just can't keep up with Phil. And he's getting better and better and better.
    • We got our heads bashed in Chicago; we saw students shot to death at Kent State; we had people stabbed to death at the Rolling Stones' Altamont concert - what do we have to believe in anymore? Unfortunately, for Phil Ochs, he couldn't give an answer. He lost his faith.
    • That was really Phil's strong point. The big rally. He was a topical singer. He sang a lot of songs about the news of the day. When he performed in that kind of venue, he was at his absolute best.
    • Phil believed strongly that one could change events, or change people's perception, through a well-crafted song.
    • He was kind of forbidden fruit in a way. Everybody thinks of the '60s as being nothing but radicals and hippies and crazy people, but when you were going to school, people discouraged you from listening to people like Phil Ochs or Bob Dylan, or reading Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg... He was seen as this of radical which is really kind of funny. When you look back, his message was so humanistic, how could it possibly have seemed so radical? He was singing for equality and freedom and the end of war.
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