Lessons learned from Phil Ochs

I wrote this a while back. Today is Phil’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Phil Ochs and thank you for all you and continue to do for us through your music.

cyndi lenz

Lessons learned from Phil Ochs

guitar

I really never knew that much about Phil Ochs. I knew his voice that’s for sure. It is  so distinct which makes watching his story even harder. Harder but compelling. I watched this documentary and  could not stop thinking about it and all the important lessons we could learn from him I decided to watch it again a few weeks later.

There But For the Fortune
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/phil-ochs-there-but-for-fortune/watch-the-full-documentary/1962/

Also available on netflix

I try to watch as least one doc a week.  I start off telling myself that I’m working on craft and production style but its when I get sucked up into the story is when I knows its good. When I forget about angles, the footage  and just want more.
It’s all about the story. It’s always about the story. It’s all about THIS story.

Phil never even knew what folk music was until…

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Happy Birthday Bette Midler singalong

Happy Birthday Bette Midler singalong.

I came across this lovely video and it seemed like a lovely gift to all of us.

Here the lyric’s if you want to sing a long.

“From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man.

It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance.”

 

 

Lessons learned from Phil Ochs

Lessons learned from Phil Ochs

guitar

I really never knew that much about Phil Ochs. I knew his voice that’s for sure. It is  so distinct which makes watching his story even harder. Harder but compelling. I watched this documentary and  could not stop thinking about it and all the important lessons we could learn from him I decided to watch it again a few weeks later.

There But For the Fortune
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/phil-ochs-there-but-for-fortune/watch-the-full-documentary/1962/

Also available on netflix

I try to watch as least one doc a week.  I start off telling myself that I’m working on craft and production style but its when I get sucked up into the story is when I knows its good. When I forget about angles, the footage  and just want more.
It’s all about the story. It’s always about the story. It’s all about THIS story.

Phil never even knew what folk music was until he went to college and his roommate introduced him to “left wing music.” He was brought up with movies. John Wayne.  He strove to be the “hero” and Sean Pean said “perhaps even the hero in his own movie.

1. Lesson number one. Be the hero in your own movie.
This is not so easy. We tell people to do this  and then when they do it we say “Who do you think you are being the hero in your own movie?”

Phil quits college and goes to NY and says “I’m going to be the best songwriter in the country. He goes to the village. He met his  girlfriend/ wife and Dylan would come over for dinner.

The backdrop of Phil’s life was the 60’s. For a folksinger there was plenty of material. He went to the south to work on civil rights. He would turn down commercial jobs for a benefit because it would reach more people. He would never turn  down a cause he believed in.

He sincerely believed that people should be treated equally.
He worked hard and got a contract with Electra Records.
In 1963 he was Newport Folk Festival performer of the year.

Phil’s father came back from the war and was so manic he had to be hospitalized.  The family was not close.
Phil played the clarinet and escaped by going to the movies.

“I aint marching anymore.”  became the anthem of the antiwar movement

He  got involved in the theater of the absurd and a protests called “the war is over!”

lesson number 2
intention is everything

“you can create your own reality when you become children of the media”

changes

Probably one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.

Lesson number 3
always have a plan b

Phil’s life was parallel to 60’s movement and he took  personally the killing of JFK, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

But how he could not? How could you not write these incredibly intricate songs and not feel what was going on personally?

Phil was one of the people that started the Yippie Party so there could be an united front against the war. Phil liked the spirit and the theater.
During the democratic convention Mayor Daily issued shoot to kill orders and there were no permits issued.
Non of the rock and roll stars would go but Phil went to commit himself to the first amendment.
Phil was inside singing at an event that was permitted.
But it was at the main unpermitted event that that someone spontaneously lit their draft card. Then everyone lit up their draft cards. Then police and dogs were unleashed with a green light from the justice department.

It just happened. It was random. No one planned it ahead of time. One of the most organic meaningful symbols of the time. It just happened.

Lesson number 4: Sometimes we need to let things happen organically.

You can’t plan these things. The best things come out of well intentioned people with pure hearts that allow their movement to be organic. That’s where the magic happens. In some crazy space between the soul and spinning towards the  moon.

Richard Nixon was elected.

Phil started drinking day and night. It was really hard for him to understand that he could not make the changes he thought he could. So he drank.
Then Kent State happen.

There was a lot of frustration. The movement became more militant. There were more bombings. The weather underground.

lesson number 5
There is never any reason to hurt another human being or commit a crime. When you feel this way what your feeling is frustration. Civil disobedience is founded in frustration.  We have to learn how to deal with the frustration and move forward.

Phil shows up in a gold lame suit at Carnegie Hall.

Then he stopped writing “My subconscious wasn’t feeding me the material.” He said.

He was depressed and drinking. The highs would get higher and the lows would get lower.

Then he decided to see the world and “wash America out of his system.” He went off. He  found hotels , a good meal and the best bordellos. According to his traveling partner he had no regard for his personal safety.

He went with Jerry Rubin to Chile. He got meet Victor Harra who was the “Pete Seager” of Chile and they became great friends.

Phil decides to go to Africa  to record there so he can write the trip off. He recorded one of the first world music albums. He went for a walk and was jumped and when he woke up they bent his vocal cords and his voice was never the same after this.

He was devastated that he lost his voice and he thought it was done by the CIA. He came back to the US and  had a bad accident while drinking heavily.

and then on on Sept 12 , 19 73   there was a military coup in Chile  and the US  was involved.  The CIA was involved. It put Pinochet in power. The army put Victor Harra in a soccer stadium and they beat his hands up and walked over to the stands and told him “Lets sing a song for el commedante !” it was too much for the colonials and Victor Jara  was murdered along with all the poets and the writers.

The poem was written on a piece of paper that was hidden inside the shoe of a friend. The poem was never named, but is commonly known as “Estadio Chile“.

“There are five thousand of us here
in this small part of the city.
We are five thousand.
I wonder how many we are in all
in the cities and in the whole country?

How hard it is to sing
when I must sing of horror.
Horror which I am living,
horror which I am dying.
To see myself among so much
and so many moments of infinity
in which silence and screams
are the end of my song.

Víctor Jara, “Estadio Chile”
(translated from Spanish)”

Phil lost his mind and he did a benefit for the Chilean refugees. Arlo Gurthie, Pete Seager supported him.  He even talked Bob Dylan into doing this. It was sold out!

This event opened up peoples eyes to what was going on in South America.

It was a great event for everyone and for Phil because it brought him back into what he did best.  organizing.

Nixon resigned.

The war was over and Phil became really depressed
Lesson number 6 : Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

in 1975 he spiraled out of control. He was totally psychotic.
He kept on drinking. He felt worthless. He felt humiliated.
He went to his sisters and he wouldn’t leave the house.

His friend came and got him and took him out to montauk

Then he  hung himself.
He was 35.

Today is Dec 19th 2016. Today the electors will be voting for Donald Trump. Today is Phil’s birthday.  Happy Birthday Phil where ever you are. You live on through you music.

Happy Birthday Tom Glazer. Innocent times. Sing along!

Happy Birthday Tom Glazer.  Innocent times. Sing along!

tomglaz

Every morning I hit up my music birthday list and tweet out a song. I do this for myself. I can start my day off with music.  I got a song to carry around all day.  Sometimes when things get tough I can sing the song in my head. Hopefully it makes a difference in days of my friends.

Music makes us happy. It lights up our nucleous  acumbans. It’s the same place that light’s up when people do cocaine. Music, for many of us, is our drug of choice for which there does not need to be any rehab.

So this morning it was Tom Glazer’s birthday.

To be honest I had no idea who Tom Glazer was but I knew his music.

“Glazer moved to Washington D.C. and began work at the Library of Congress.[2] There he met Alan Lomax who worked for cataloguing American folk songs, and who was a great influence. Glazer began performing as an amateur and was invited by Eleanor Roosevelt to perform at the White House for soldiers working there as guards. He made a successful professional début at the New York City Town Hall in January 1943 during a blizzard, and in 1945 had a radio show Tom Glazer’s Ballad Box.[1] His songs of the period, such as “A Dollar Ain’t a Dollar Anymore”, “Our Fight is Yours”, “When the Country is Broke”, and “Talking Inflation Blues” took strong social stands.[1] Glazer’s songs were recorded by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Perry Como and Frank Sinatra. He was part of the strong folk music scene in New York in the 1940s, and with Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and Josh White helped prepare for the commercially successful folk revival of the 1960s.[1][2] “He wasn’t fancy,” Seeger reported after his death “He was just straightforward. He had a good sense of humor.”

These are the two songs I tweeted out this morning.

If your child ever sang “Battle Hymm of the Children” today they would be marched to the principals office, the police would be called and they would be featured on cable news, ripped apart by Nancy Grace,  Fox News would probably make sure you knew the parents were Democrats and the songwriter was a “Folk singer! A socialist from socialist times! Then somehow connect them with Hillary’s emails. Then the next morning would be the second story on Today Show (After Hillery’s emails). Matt Lauer will get all judgy with the parenting skills. Then we would all mourn that John Stewart who is not here to humanize the whole thing. In fact. I bet you he sings “On top of spaghetti.” with his kids.

So today in honor of Tom’s Birthday and our lost innocent times let’s have a sing a long! Sing with me! It will really make you feel better! Better than Prozac! Come on you know you want to.

We miss you Larry Hoppin!

#orleans

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Larry in Newport Rhode Island, Rock4christmas tour

I knew it  was around now. I’ve been walking around thinking about Larry. Thinking about what would life be like if he was still here with us. The few days have been frantic and i finally sat and I found this.

and this

I met Larry on a crazy tour called Rock for Christmas. Somehow, I got in my mind that I wanted to go tour and I got this chance to do so and insanity prevailed. I spent a lot of time with Larry in the bus, in the van where he gave me some really good advice that probably saved my life, or at least saved me from mounds of aggravation.

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Larry Hoppen at a Christmas Party somewhere in Newport RI.

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It was like  therapy session for the both of us but he was so proud of his girls , his brothers , his friend Tam Kallman and of John Hall who was a US congressman at the time.

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Larry Hoppen performing at the Hard Rock Cafe at Foxwoods

He was a true blue Dem! He loved Obama. I think his twitter feed is still up and that’s the photo he posted. He was mortified when Trayvon Martin got shot. I know that if he was here today he’d be writing songs about our water issues and Florida issues and try to do what ever could to help.

He was so worried that no one was going to come to the Newport Blues Cafe. He hooked with the mayor and it was right before Christmas and Newport was gorgeous. We made the rounds of people’s Christmas parties and events inviting people. Then he calls John Caffferty to come too. We also had James Montgomery, and Eddie Money.

I gave my video to the main video guy and he made something but I had a lot of video from behind the scenes that i’m even sure if I have it anymore. Crazy funny but some things are better off in a giant box of tapes. Maybe one day i’ll pull them out and put something together.

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Larry Hoppen with Grace Morrison at the Newport Blue Cafe, Newport, RI Rock for Chrismas

After this Larry always called  me to join in. Bring my camera. SIt behind the scenes and take it all it in. When ever I showed up he would say “Cyndi Lenz is good people.”

Here is some fun video of “sound check from I think the last RPM show at weston.

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Larry Hoppen with John Cafferty and James Montgomery at the Newport Blues Cage in Newport RI Rock4Christmas Tour

As I sit here and cry I miss this guy so much. He was a mensch. One of the good guys.

Here is Larry and Joe Bouchard from Blue Oyster Cult

We miss you!

Here is Tommy, Larry is playing bass. What fun! hahaha

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Larry Hoppen from #orleans at the Newport Blues Cafe, Newport Rhode Island.