Phil Ochs and Neil Young
Phil Ochs and Neil Young have a somewhat tangential, but critical relationship.
If we look at the 1977 Decade box album, Neil's hand written note about the song "Cinnamon Girl" says:
"Wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs eyes playing finger cymbals.
It was hard to explain to my wife."
We still have no idea what "Phil Ochs eyes" means but it indicates that Neil and Phil connected back in the 1960's.
In a 1969 interview on KSAN radio with Neil Young, he is asked about Dylan's music and admits that he didn't even own a Bob Dylan album for fear of being influenced by it. Young then goes on to site Phil Ochs as a major influence. Young adds that he considered Ochs and Dylan on the same level.
Upon the release of Neil Young's 2006 Living With War, Neil described the album as "metal folk protest like Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan."
Which leads us to today's times of turmoil and change and the new film Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune (preview clip above). The film is rather timely and relevant tribute to an unlikely hero. Over the course of a meteoric music career that spanned two turbulent decades, Phil Ochs sought the bright lights of fame and social justice in equal measure - a contradiction that eventually tore him apart. From youthful idealism to rage to pessimism, the arch of Ochs' life paralleled that of the times, and the anger, satire and righteous indignation that drove his music also drove him to dark despair.
From AlterNet | Phil Ochs, a Musical American Hero by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd:
During the idealistic youth movement of the 1960s, the political folk singer Phil Ochs was a kind of pied piper. Reflecting the era’s idealism, he set out very earnestly to change the world with his music, viewing himself less as a songwriter and more of a reporter, his incisive, sardonic lyrics mining the tumult of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Nixon era, and the Chilean coup.
Beginning his career in New York’s Greenwich Village as a compatriot to Bob Dylan, over the course of 15 years he became a hero-troubador to the peace movement, and quite possibly the most important American activist/musician of all time. Ochs loved Elvis Presley and John Wayne as American archetypes writ large, and eventually he became an archetype himself. But stricken by bipolar disorder and alcoholism, coupled with the disillusionment of the era, Ochs died by his own hand in 1976. And while his story hasn’t been entirely lost, like much of leftist history his achievements have been buried.
Until now. Director/producer Kenneth Bowser has been working on Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune for the better part of 20 years.
Speaking of answers blowin' in the wind, also see more on metal folk protest music.