Phil Ochs – Fifty Mile Hike

This is a very rare Phil Ochs demo that I’ve never heard before. I’m not sure where it’s come from.

I do love Phil Ochs – someone I really miss.

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Buffy St Marie – My Country ‘Tis of thy People You’re Dyin’ – Passionate song about the genocide of the Native American Indian.

Buffy St Marie – My Country ‘Tis of thy People You’re Dyin’ – Passionate song about the genocide of the Native American Indian.

buffy_sainte-marie

Buffy St Marie was a full-blooded Native American Indian. Her passion shows in this articulate elegy concerning the plight of the Indians and the lies and genocide that was inflicted upon them.

An incredible piece of writing! I do not believe a stronger or more passionate song has ever been written! This is the best!! Nobody with a heart could fail to react.

“My Country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying” was written by Sainte-marie, Buffy.

Now that your big eyes have finally opened
Now that you’re wondering how must they feel
Meaning them that you’ve chased across
America’s movie screens

Now that you’re wondering how can it be real
That the ones you’ve called colorful, noble and proud
In your school propaganda, they starve in their splendor
You’ve asked for my comment, I simply will render

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying

Now that the long houses breed superstition
You force us to send our toddlers away
To your schools where they’re taught
To despise their traditions

You forbid them their languages, then further say
That American history really began
When Columbus set sail out of Europe
Then stress that the nation of leeches that conquered this land
Are the biggest and bravest and boldest and best

And yet where in your history books is the tale
Of the genocide basic to this country’s birth
Of the preachers who lied, how the Bill of Rights failed

How a nation of patriots returned to their earth
And where will it tell of the Liberty Bell
As it rang with a thud o’er Kinzua mud
And of brave Uncle Sam in Alaska this year

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying

Hear how the bargain was made for the West
With her shivering children in zero degrees
Blankets for your land, so the treaties attest
Oh well, blankets for land is a bargain indeed

And the blankets were those Uncle Sam had collected
From smallpox-diseased dying soldiers that day
And the tribes were wiped out and the history books censored
A hundred years of your statesmen have felt
It’s better this way

And yet a few of the conquered have somehow survived
Their blood runs the redder though genes have paled
From the Gran Canyon’s caverns to craven sad hills
The wounded, the losers, the robbed sing their tale

From Los Angeles County to upstate New York
The white nation fattens while others grow lean
Oh the tricked and evicted they know what I mean

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying

The past it just crumbled, the future just threatens
Our life blood shut up in your chemical tanks
And now here you come, bill of sale in your hands
And surprise in your eyes that we’re lacking in thanks

For the blessings of civilization you’ve brought us
The lessons you’ve taught us, the ruin you’ve wrought us
Oh see what our trust in America’s brought us

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying

Now that the pride of the sires receives charity
Now that we’re harmless and safe behind laws
Now that my life’s to be known as your ‘Heritage’
Now that even the graves have been robbed

Now that our own chosen way is a novelty
Hands on our hearts we salute you your victory
Choke on your blue white and scarlet hypocrisy
Pitying the blindness that you’ve never seen

That the eagles of war whose wings lent you glory
They were never no more than carrion crows
Pushed the wrens from their nest
Stole their eggs, changed their story

The mockingbird sings it, it’s all that he knows
“Ah, what can I do?”, say a powerless few
With a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye
Can’t you see that their poverty’s profiting you?

My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying

Book Recommendation – A Beat Novel – Opher Goodwin – Goofin’ with the Cosmic Freaks

This was my attempt to write a kind of sixties On The Road. I think of it as my Beat novel.

Some of you might recognise the character I based the book on. It has all the craziness of the times an is a good read:

In the UK:

In the USA:

Thank you for supporting me and my writing!

Roy Harper epitomised the Sixties

Roy Harper epitomised the Sixties.

Looking back to the 1950s, life was extremely drab and conforming. I think of it as being in black and white. It was only towards the end, with the advent of Rock ‘n’ Roll that things started to wake up. But Rock ‘n’ Roll was visceral. It took the intellectual rebellion of the Beat Generation to come up with a real philosophy. There we had it – Zen, dope, sex, Jazz, poetry and the road. A different way of living.

In the sixties the visceral Rock joined with the philosophy of Beat, along with a sacrament or two of psychedelic awakening, to create that unique 60s revolution.

Unfortunately the people who were leading the movement tended to be the musicians and most of them were not equipped to articulate any sound philosophy or direction. But Roy was. He epitomised what the sixties was all about.

It was the civil rights movement and anti-war movement (aimed at Vietnam) that galvanised the youth. It opened our eyes to the fact that our society was not being run for the right reasons and our politicians and businesses were not leading us down the right path. The greed, selfishness and violence were self-evident.

The youth of the day had absorbed the message from Beat poetry that there was a superior, less hypocritical, more fun, and more fulfilling way of living. It couldn’t be just paying lip-service in church, trying to make lots of money, working in a boring career and being a cog in a machine to service a wealthy elite, that, if you played all your cards right, you could join (the carrot). It could be creative, inspirational, individual and fulfilling.

So when Roy, who was steeped in Beat Generation philosophy, and had lived it while on the road, came along with songs like Circle and then the majestic McGoohan’s Blues and I Hate The Whiteman, he had distilled all the elements, made it a British version, and put in words what was in our heads. He was the genuine article.

I think Roy shamelessly rejected the whole aim of Western society with barbed poetry aimed at its warmongering ways, destruction of our natural way of life, its warped values and plastic universe. He wanted something better based on sharing, community, fun, love and fellowship. He hankered after that nomadic hunter-gatherer society with the freedom and closeness to nature that we had lost.

I don’t think that anybody else, apart, maybe, from sixties Dylan, ever got closer. Roy was full on with an intensity and fury that some found hard to take. As a musician he was excellent; as a poet he was outstanding; as a social commentator he was in a class of his own and as an example of what the sixties was all about he was unparalleled. That early Harper was an idealist, an optimist and really thought that by pointing out the gaping problems in society we could build a better world – like so many of us back then. He believed that our little band of freaks was pointing at a better way.

Perhaps it was just a pipe dream?

What is happening to America???

My times living in America were all good. Most of the people I had the pleasure of meeting, working with or interacting with were friendly, generous and pleasant. 

Times appear to have changed.

America does feel to me like a rampant capitalist experiment that is going badly wrong. It is run and controlled by a tiny elite of super-rich who bribe, control and run the place for their own benefit. The wealth is hence concentrated in a small elite who control the media and minds.

It is similar but not as bad in the UK. We have a more benevolent society with less extremes. We take care of our poor and needy a bit better and have less extremes of wealth and less violence. Though we do appear, under these capitalist Tories, to be heading the same way.

What is quite clear is that things appear to have become more divided since I was last there in America – more tribal and much more extreme. Nobody is listening to anyone outside their box and abuse is rife. It feels heated.
Any talk about addressing the gaping wound of inequality is seen as unAmerican or socialist – and socialism is immediately equated with totalitarianism and communism. McCarthy did a good job!

Is Idealism doomed?

There have been many communities – spiritual, artistic, political and agricultural that have lived and prospered on idealistic ideologies.

Personally I think we can improve and create a better, fairer world which does not destroy nature, have gross inequality or exploit people. What’s more I think that is worth fighting for.

I’m reading about Rudolf Laban right now – one of many.

And not all of those sixties communes and idealists died out or gave up! Some are still with us true to a better vision of how to live free of greed and destruction, closer to nature. We just don’t hear about them.

Knives – changing attitudes!

When I was a kid back in the early sixties knives were an accepted part of life. Every boy scout had a big knife in a scabbard on his belt – ostensibly for whittling wood. We also had Swiss folding multipurpose knives with lots of blades, a little saw a bottle opener and a tool for getting stones out of horses hooves – though nobody had ever done that.

We used to take our knives into school and nobody blinked an eyelid. We’d play splits on the school field (that involved throwing you knife next to someone’s feet, within a foot of their foot, so that they had to move their foot to it. Gradually you did the splits until one of you fell over or could no longer stretch to reach it). We would have target practice with throwing knives against trees. Throwing knives from Spain were all the rage for a term or two. When I was thirteen we went across to France and everyone bought these huge flick-knives with stiletto blades. They were illegal in the UK but we all had one and would play about flicking them open.

I don’t remember any of my friends actually thinking of using a knife to threaten anyone with. They were playthings. Though we did get the odd injury with someone getting a knife stuck in their foot! But all in good fun.

We all knew that knives were used in the gangs of Teddy Boys who roamed the town. They were supposed to use cut-throat razors and bike chains too and have really nasty fights. I actually saw a knife fight outside the venue of the first band I went to see (the Birds in 1964). Two Teds were circling each other and slashing out with knives while a baying crowd egged them on – girls shrieking and urging them  on and other Teds jeering. I don’t remember it actually developing into anything where anyone got stabbed though.

I certainly never felt threatened. The knives we played with were somehow not weapons to us. They were either playthings or for show.

It seems different now. They are weapons and they are used to threaten, wound and kill.

Some thoughts on fictions.

We are losing faith in the limited fictions and could be about to embrace a more universal consciousness. It’s a fiction with some substance and the opportunity to both grow and develop a better way of life.

Many find it impossible to let go of the old fictions and go forward. They cling like limpets to the wreckage of dying fictions – religion, patriotism and the President.

I think this change in consciousness took off in the 60s. That is when a lot of people started realising that the establishment was a hypocritical self-serving institution committed to preserving the status quo and paying lip-service to religion and the law. It was empty. All it cared about was making money, and money neither bought happiness or fulfillment.

Many young people took Kerouac’s dream and were looking for something more substantial with more meaning. They lost their respect for organised religion, the President and the idea of nation. They had a broader dream. It wasn’t superficially about making money and having power. It was more about getting back to nature and respecting everyone and the planet. Life should be fun. People should communicate. Race, gender, social standing and nationality no longer held any significance or status.

That’s a good fiction to buy into.

The Beats and Hippies – some thoughts.

The Beats and the Hippies did not want to be part of any warmongering, elite-driven war such as the Vietnam war. They did not want the hypocrisy of a conservative society that espoused one thing and did another. They rejected the austerity, elitism, racism, destructiveness and false patriotism. They wanted something simpler, less damaging, more inclusive, more sincere and more meaningful. They saw the heart of America and the UK, with its lip-service to religion, its greed and selfishness, as an empty lie. It was rotten at heart, uptight and conformist and based on hierarchy and power. It was corrupt.
Corporate America sent its youth to war for economic gain. They made money out of blood.
The elite did not fight and most avoided sending their own sons into battle. They disproportionately sent the poor and coloured.
Church was a club. If Jesus had come back they would have murdered him.
The laws were flouted. Money talked. If you were rich you could get away with murder. If you were poor or black you got electrocuted.
There was no heart or substance. It was all cash and power.
The Hippies and Beats saw a better way of living. They were, and are, right.
Their legacy is in spiritualism, environmentalism and civil rights.
BTW – Jack Kerouac was an early leader of substance but was undermined by Catholic guilt and alcoholism and became a sad character who was confused, increasingly right-wing and ended up a drunken bum.

The Early Greenwich Village Bands of 1964-1965 – an extract from Rock Routes – a book on Rock Music by Opher Goodwin

The Early Greenwich Village Bands of 1964-1965

 

In the early 1960s there were four main groups that were heavily inter-related. They were the Journeymen, The Big Three, the Halifax Three and the Mugwumps.

 

Personnel:

 

Journeymen Big Three Halifax Three Mugwumps
John Philips

Scott McKenzie

Dick Weissman

Cass Elliot

Jim Hendricks

Tim Rose

Denny Doherty

Zalman Yanovsky

Pat Lacroix

Cass Elliot

Jim Hendricks

Denny Doherty

Zalman Yanovsky

 

There was much movement between the various bands. People came and went and Michelle Gilliam, John Philips wife, joined. After a spell working in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico the Mugwumps headed to LA to join the Folk Rock scene and morphed into the Mamas and Papas. Zalman Yanovsky stayed in New York and joined up with John Sebastian to form the Lovin’ Spoonful. The Lovin’ Spoonful took off in New York and played in Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco helping kick the West Coast scene into ignition.

 

Artist Stand out tracks
Lovin’ Spoonful Younger generation

Nashville cats

Daydream

Do you believe in magic

You didn’t have to be so nice

Summer in the city

Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Mugwumps Searchin’

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Big Three It makes a long time man feel bad
Halifax Three Bull train

The man who wouldn’t sing along with Mitch

 

Everything you ever wanted to know about Rock Music!

If you would like to purchase this book in either digital or paperback it is available on Amazon.

In the UK:

 

In the USA :

Opher Goodwin