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Phil Ochs: There but for a Fortune

When I was in Africa I lived in slums surrounded by rebel guns. At Western I brushed shoulders with future politicians and present-day revolutionaries. I’ve known musicians and prophets, I’ve met troubadours and clowns, but I consider myself none of these things. There may be many titles I’ve been known for, referred to, and called. I’m made up of a legion of personalities; I am many, but when I die let the lover and the writer be remembered.

Phil Ochs was a lover, a writer, and the entire list of characters mentioned above. He was an American, and a proud one, who lived to die memorialized. This past Family Day Monday I met his memory, and saw a film that told his tale beautifully.

The Bloor Cinema has definitely become a front-runner for my fav movie house in Toronto. Previously I’d seen two film’s there for the blog, and one just for fun. Each has led to the other, and recently the samurai-era-paranormal flick led me to a documentary about this American folk singer.

Yes, Mr. Phil Ochs, the self-proclaimed second best song-writer in history. Last year this legend returned to the limelight via a documentary titled “Phil Ochs: There but for a Fortune.” The film includes the opinions of many famous Hollywood types, but it only shines for its star. Born to a manic-depressive father and absentee mother Phil found solace in song-writing and guitar picking. Bound for fame in Greenwich Village, he headed there in the sixties to find his voice. Thereafter he became a political monolith capable of rallying thousands in protest against Vietnam. He followed this up with a theatrical career that spiraled down into a manic mess. He ended it all at the end of the rope, but through his music he lives on.

The story is extensive, inspiring, and ultimately tragic. Nonetheless, it is a story every pop-culture junky should digest. Though I’m not a fan of folk, and don’t fancy myself a Liberal, I can relate to a man possessed by his art. I salute you Mr. Ochs, and honor you the only way I know how… here in the hallowed halls of My Life at the Movies.


  • Anonymous

    His story sounds very intersting and very “American Dream” like. Most likely won’t watch this flick as I have about 200 others to watch and Docs arent at the top of that list but this piece brought me closer to something I didnt know anything about.

    Great job!

    • Anonymous

      @JGSuckaFree it is certainly a weird take on the “American Dream” concept, just a few shades darker though. He longed for the John Wayne heroism, but in the end he became the villain he never thought he would be. The entire tale of Mr. Phil Ochs is a great example of an artists struggle, (with self and fame).

  • Chris Elliott

    That was a spooky last line fam. Love it though! As always I love the mix between your stories and that of the film. Great piece.

    • Anonymous

      @ChrisAndFame thx buddy! I highly recommend this movie to you as you like folk music. This guy is definitely a talent that you should entertain when you get the chance.

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