Thursday, October 3, 2013

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune - DVD

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune - DVD
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira

        As someone who remembers Phil Ochs, I couldn't help but be moved by this documentary. Having regularly watched the 'Live From Cafe Wha?/Underground Tonight Show' series on Public Access New York Cable Television during the 1970s, including the night Phil performed, 'Here's To The State of Richard Nixon' on there, of which part of his appearance is shown in the documentary, though not the performance (he also made mention of his friend Victor Jara during the program, and it was noticeable that Phil was not well), and the Phil Ochs Tribute which was shown on PBS a couple of decades ago (The Dave Van Ronk segment of Van Ronk singing 'He Was A Friend Of Mine', just grabs you by the heart - Ramsey Clark began the tribute with a spoken Incantation backed by the playing of Scottish Bagpipes, with other great subsequent performances by Melanie Safka {Miranda}, Tim Hardin {Pleasures Of The Harbor}, and I also remember a husband and wife duo singing a stirring 'The Crucifixtion'), it was moving to be reminded of how much Phil Ochs meant to so many people. {The authors Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofalo, dedicated their highly informative book, 'Rock 'n' Roll Is Here To Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry' Published by Nelson-Hall/Chicago, to him.} 'There But For Fortune' follows Phil's life with photographs, very rare film footage, interviews with among others, his wife and daughter, his brother Photographic Archivist Michael Ochs, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Ed Sanders (I find it a little strange that no one interviewed Melvin Van Peebles who was a stablemate of Phil's at A&M Records, and a participant in the Evening with Salvador Allende/Chile Benefit, as there are also photographs in the documentary of the event - Phil also performed at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor; as well as continually during the previous years, performing at Benefits for {among others} the Civil Rights Movement, the Coal Miners Union, the Black Panther Party and the AntiWar Movement.), Abbie Hoffman, Jac Holtzman, Peter Yarrow etc... And most importantly, HIS SONGS. Who can forget the beauty of his songs, 'There But For Fortune' {which became a standard}, 'Changes' and when he set Edgar Allan Poe's poem, 'The Bells' to music. Even though I feel it could have been longer, this documentary is a wonderful work, and damn near a masterpiece.

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