Unfortunately I did not manage to see Phil perform live – but I’ve got every single thing he ever produced – including all the live stuff available. I liked all his phases. His first period of creativity was writing topical songs. Dylan accused him of merely being a journalist. He was always a lot more than that. Like Dylan he selected news items to transform into songs. He wrote songs which had real bite but still had a lot of humour and satire. As the sixties progressed he developed a more poetic surreal style with songs full of imagery and intricacy. It seemed that he was always following in Dylan’s footsteps and falling short. There again – everybody fell short. In the late sixties he was heavily involved with the politics of the YIPPIE movement along with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.
Phil wrote many excellent songs on social issues – civil rights and anti-war. But he also wrote songs of great beauty. Joan Baez recorded his wonderful ‘There But For Fortune’ but of his more beautiful songs I prefer ‘Changes’ – it has so very special lines.
Unfortunately alcohol and depression ate Phil away and he took his own life. What a waste.
Phil left behind a legacy of real songs – songs with meaning and passion.