The Flowing Waters of Lake Jefferson

Saturday March 8, 2003

An interview with Sonny Ochs speaking about her brother Phil Ochs

with Larry Hoyt of WAER-FM 88.3, Syracuse

Sonny Ochs speaks about her brother Phil's shy and rather introverted youth. She explains how the the family often moved just when he'd find a friend. Phil played saxophone and clarinet. Some believed he attended military high school thinking to be in their band.

1. Phil Ochs - If I knew
Broadside Tapes 1 - Smithsonian Folkways

Phil attended Ohio State which proved to be less liberal than he. His room mate Jim Glover called him from Greenwich Village New York, convincing him in the early 60's to move there. It was Jim and Jim's family that influenced Now into Politics because of Jim Glover:

2. Phil Ochs - If I knew
Broadside Tapes 1 - Smithsonian Folkways

Phil's 1966 Carnegie Hall concert was sold out. Sonny was proud of her younger brother but her grandmother simply commented on how a barber could make a good penny from the crowd.

3.  Phil Ochs - I Aint a Marching Anymore
Best of Phil Ochs Millenium Collection - 20th Cnetury Masters

Sonny spoke with Larry about the current relevancy of many of Phil's songs. Beyond the relevancy of the songs, she pointed out how many of his melodys were beautiful. She mentioned that she lives by the message in his song "When I'm Gone". Do what you can, when you can, while you are alive.

4. Phil Ochs - Outside of a Small Circle of Friends
Best of Phil Ochs Millenium Collection - 20th Cnetury Masters

Sonny was handed a tape of one of Phil's shows from a show in Greenwich Village's gaslight from a man who had named his son after Phil. On it was an unrealeased song. Pat Humphries heard it and loved it.

5. Pat Humphries - (Ochs) Hands.
Songs of Phil Ochs - Sliced Bread

The "Remembering Phil Ochs" nights are celebrating their 20th anniversary. It began 20 years ago at the Speak Easy" in New York. Then it moved to Folk City, Albany, Boston, Phily, growing into Mid-west touring. Their aim is not monetary, but a dedicated group that wish to keep these songs heard.

6. Magpie - (Ochs) Power and the Glory
Songs of Phil Ochs - Sliced Bread

Phil's humor and sincere interest in people was evident when Sonny saw him live. She says that there is a resurgance of interest in his work. Sonny also spoke candidly about Phil's progressive mental illness and the last few years of life.  Now called bipolar, he suffered from manic depression. By the last three years of his life his highs were very high, and his lows were very low. With an extreme negative hopelessness, Phil ended his own life in April of 1976.

7. Phil Ochs - When I'm Gone
Phil Ochs in Concert - Elektra

There are two biographies that Sonny recommends: Death of a Rebel by Mark Elliott, and
There But For Fortune, the Life of Phil Ochs by Michal Schoomacker. There is also a DocuDrama Film:  Chords of Fame

8. Phil Ochs - The War is Over
Broadside Tapes 1 - Smithsonian Folkways

When asked if she'd like to add anything Sonny said that she was appaled by recent gorvernment reactions to world requests refusing to join in the call for war. She says that Phil's songs are out there more and more. "I'm so glad that people keep singing them"

Onto other political writers.

9. Buffy St. Marie- Universal Soldier
Best of Buffy Sainte-Marie - Vanguard
"this is not the way to put an end to war"

Holly Near speaks about beginning of her singing career beginning at a young age. She adds that personality is formed in your youth. During her run of the musical "Hair" she was asked to not sing "Let the sun shine in" as a political protest after Kent State's murders. Only a year later she was asked to sing at the memorial.

10. Holly Near - Could Have Been Me
"if you can die for freedom, I can too"

11. Chuck Brodsky - Hands of Victor Jara
Letters in the Dirt - Red House

12. Dar Williams - I Had No Right
Green World - Razor & Tie
"I went for peace, they dropped their bombs"

13. Joe Jencks - You Don't Have the Right
I Hear Your Voice - Turtle Bear Music

14. John McCutcheon - Not In My Name
The Greatest Sotry Never Told - Red House

John's urges people to take advantage of the chance to gather at the "Phil Ochs" night.

15. John McCutcheon - No Mas
Signs of the Times - Rounder
"Our silence buys the battles"

Si gives an introduction to this new song about the Vietnamese bay where troops disembarked, and left from the area. He says he couldn't help but think about he tragedy of suffering in what we now admitt was an unecessary war. He wanted to honor the bravery of the soldiers that faught, and also say that the war itself was wrong.

16. Si Kahn - Cam Ran Bay

17. Nanci Griffith, Raul Malo, Donna Summer (Julie Gold ) - From A Distance
"God is watching us"

18. Rod MacDonald - For the Good of the Country
Recognition -

19.  Dick Gaughan - Think Again
Different Kind of Love Song - Appleseed
"Before You Do That which can never be undone I beg of you think"

20. Phil Ochs - Changes
Phil Ochs in Concert - Elektra

21. Phil Ochs - Love me I'm a Liberal
Phil Ochs in Concert - Elektra

View Setlists for other years or back to Folk Plus or Angela's interviews