In his song “Time Was,” counterculture singer Phil Ochs reminisces about a past “when a man could build a home, have a family of his own. The peaceful years would flow; he could watch his children grow. But it was a long time ago.”
To Ochs, simpler times were better: “troubles were few…a man could have his pride; there was justice on his side…there was truth in every day.”
Ochs recorded “Time Was” in 1962, when he was just 22 years old. He had yet to witness the most tumultuous parts of the 1960s – the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the polarization wrought by the Vietnam War, and the civil rights and feminist movements.
Cover of unreleased Phil song.
FBI stated that Phil lived at 139 Thompson Street in NYC in October of 1963.
139 Thompson Street today.
While I keep finding more and more reason to find Phil Och’s songs almost eerily prescient about the contemporary situation (he died in 1976), I have written elsewhere about seeing him when I was a student in what we used to call Junior High (now “Middle School”), his Facebook group, and his mostly unexplored connection to the pop music of his day, the diary is actually an attempt (probably a poor one), to highlight his musical knowledge and sophistication. I am probably one of the last people in the world you would want to read talking about this, as I’ll admit right now that even at my best, I was a poor amateur musician, and I know virtually nothing about music theory.
Read more at Phil Ochs Musical and Lyrical Sophistication