If only Phil had not been so stressed out with his life he might not have become so hopelessly involved with alcohol and depression. If he had not committed suicide in the mid-seventies we might still have him with us today. Heaven knows we need people to speak out against the madness. I miss him.
This album is one of his early ones.
- Phil Ochs – I Ain’t Marching Any More
Phil’s second album carried on it the same vein as the first. He was adept at taking a new headline of a social issue that had taken his interest and developing it into a song. This is what had prompted Bob Dylan into scathingly calling him more of a journalist that a song-writer.
These early songs did not have the poetry of Dylan or even his later more complicated songs which were a lot more poetic but they did have a lot of humour, bile and passion and they fired their heavy artillery at their mark. There was no mistaking what Phil stood for. It was right in your face. He was for equality and civil rights. That came straight at you through songs like ‘Here’s to the State of Mississippi’. He was for the unions and fairness for black and white with ‘Links on the chain’ and he was against the whole hideous threat of war in all its guises as with ‘Draft-dodger rag’, ‘I ain’t marching anymore’ and ‘The men behind the guns’.
Phil lacked the genius of Dylan and suffered by comparison but his songs were good and honest and his aim was true. His passion shone through. He knew what he believed in and he set about doing something about it.
Phil epitomised what became known as ‘the protest movement’. It wasn’t so much a protest about what was going on so much as a desire to create something a whole lot better. There was nothing negative about Phil’s songs. He was highlighting what needed addressing. His anger was focussed and he wanted something doing about it.
This is an album packed with socially motivated songs that is both stimulating and thought provoking. That is summed up by Phil’s song ‘Days of decision’. He was part of that movement towards building a new, fairer world.
We need our idealists and men of conscience. Where are the voices speaking out right now? There are so many injustices. The world is racked with war. The environment is being destroyed. The human population is going through the ceiling. Women are being abused and shackled. Terrorists and religious fanatics are intent on taking away our freedoms. Where are our Dylan’s and Och’s when we need them?
If you are enjoying or at all enlightened by these, rather idiosyncratic, list of brilliant albums why not purchase the book and see what other undiscovered gems it might expose (along with some of the more well-known albums). You might find it well worth a fiver.