Loving Phil Ochs music at the moment, and just watched There But For Fortune documentary about his life, and this song just resonates especially the lines about ‘I would be in exile now, but everywhere’s the same’ and ‘But every town I wander there’s a billboard on a throne’ about commercialisation, globalisation and alienation. I do think Phil Ochs was far better than Dylan, especially for political songwriting, and Phil never gave up the cause to become a pop star.
Sadly only a cover is on YouTube but this is a good one by AlbionDavid.
Also I’ve been reading watching a lot about Chicago 1968, Chile 1973 and Nicaragua in the 1980’s – seems a lot of the ills of modern times come from these events. Not in the events themselves, but the lack of outcry after, where governments learned they could use propaganda, killing, infiltration and division to keep people from asking the right questions. It amazes me that after it was known about the US involvement in the overthrow of the regime in Chile, or the Iran Contra affair, or that people believed Mayor Daley was doing the right thing in Chicago that people if they did complain were not heard, and a lot of people just ignored it and kept right on going. A mass sort of blindness, one of which we still have today from the Antiwar marches of the early 00s to the ignorance of any disagreement over possible war in Iran.
This is in modern times when the selective deafness started, and a modern COINTELPRO campaign to discredit all who disagreed as ‘domestic terrorists’ which still seems to be in place today. That to me is what Strummer was saying with ‘Remember Victor Jara’ – not just what happened to him, but how he got into the stadium in Santiago, and more damningly the silence and lack of interest after.
Maybe Phil Ochs was right, maybe that total disillusionment in that the war is never won, that people don’t really care if others are killed in some far off land, as long as they get cheap oil? I’d like to think better of humanity, that they do care, although the fact repeatedly many have looked the other way gets more damning as time goes on – that’s why I connect with Phil Ochs, I really understand those last battle-weary personal albums, where he asks ‘Are these the end times?’ ‘Is it worth it?’ and simply states ‘no more songs’.