Quotations from

Phil Ochs


(1941-1976) US folksinger
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    Oscar Wilde
    Irish playwright and poet
    Born:
    October 16, 1854, in Ireland
    Education:
    Trinity College, Dublin, and
    Magdalen College, Oxford
    Died:
    November 30, 1900, Paris

    Other Phil Ochs Sites

    Phil Pchs Info

    Phil Pchs Bio

    Phil Ochs Bio

    The Songs of Phil Ochs

    The Poet's Cry (Song for Phil Ochs)

    Remembering Phil Ochs by Sonny Ochs

    Phil Ochs Remembered by Phil Mershon

    Poison Ochs a Phil Ochs Tribute CD


    Phil Ochs Pictures
    and Album Covers

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  • A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for bullshit.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of The Broadside Tapes

    America is two Mack trucks colliding on a superhighway because all the drivers are on amphetamines.
    Phil Ochs, from An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Period by Charles DeBenedetti (Syracuse University Press, 1990).

    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
    Phil Ochs, from "When I'm Gone"

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of &The Broadside Tapes

    And the night comes again to the circle-studded sky
    The stars settle slowly, in loneliness they lie
    Till the universe explodes as a falling star is raised
    The planets are paralyzed, the mountains are amazed
    But they all glow brighter from the brilliance of the blaze
    With the speed of insanity then he dies!
    Phil Ochs, from "Chords of Change"

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from intro to "The Marines Have Landed on the Shores of Santo Domingo" on Phil Ochs in Concert

    God isn't dead--he's just missing in action.
    Phil Ochs, from An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Period by Charles DeBenedetti (Syracuse University Press, 1990).

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of I Ain't Marching Anymore

    I was over there, entertaining the troops. I won't say which troops.
    Phil Ochs, intro to "The World Began In Eden And Ended in Los Angeles" on There and Now Live in Vancouver 1968

    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 effects them personally. Here then is a lesson in safe logic.
    Phil Ochs, introducing "Love Me, I'm a Liberal."

    In the heat of the summer
     When the pavements were burning
      The soul of a city was ravaged in the night
       After the city sun was sinkin'
    Now no one knows how it started
     why the windows were shattered
      But deep in the dark, someone set the spark
       And then it no longer mattered.
    Phil Ochs, from "In The Heat Of The Summer"

    In the tube where I was killed
    I was fulfilled
    The lies of light would bend
    I'd stare until the end
    And then again
    Faded and the fad
    I gave all the mind I had
    And whenever I was sad
    I had my friends
    And now it can be told
    I'm a quarter of a century old
    But I'm half a century high
    Phil Ochs, from "Half A Century High" on Tape From California

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from An American Ordeal: The Antiwar Movement of the Vietnam Period by Charles DeBenedetti (Syracuse University Press, 1990).

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of &The Broadside Tapes

    Leaving America is like losing twenty pounds and finding a new girlfriend.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of The Broadside Tapes

    Read your morning papers, read every single line
    And tell me if you can believe that simple world you find
    Read every slanted word till your eyes are getting sore,
    I know you're set for fighting, but what are you fighting for?
    Phil Ochs, from "What Are You Fighting For"

    [The 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.
    Phil Ochs

    The final story, the final chapter of western man, I believe, lies in Los Angeles.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of The Broadside Tapes

    Up and down and all around we took our restless ride,
     And the rocks they were staring cold and jagged.
      Where explosions of the powder had torn away the side,
       Where we drove through the hills of West Virginia.
    And the orange sun was falling on the southern border line,
     As the shadows of the night were now returning.
      And we knew the mountains followed us and watched us from behind,
       When we drove from the hills of West Virginia.
    Phil Ochs, from "The Hills of West Virginia"

    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.
    Phil Ochs, from the liner notes of The Broadside Tapes


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