Folkways Collection

“For a time, Phil Ochs was considered Bob Dylan’s greatest rival for the crown atop the politicized folk music movement of the 1960s. His life ended in tragedy; his downward spiral as an individual and as an artist coinciding with the increasingly confused and cynical mood of America in the late 60s and early 70s. This program examines the legacy of this great singer-songwriter.”


One thought on “Folkways Collection

  1. I was asked by Shannon to leave my reminiscence of Phil on this page.
    Hi Shannon…glad you asked…I was working for A&M Records in the Toronto office in the fall of 1970…Phil came to town to do some shows at local colleges and universities. I hooked up with him on the morning of the first day for a nooner at York University where he was well received in a common atrium area of the school. We also did an interview at the college station and then hung with some ardent student fans who took us to a club where they would be playing the next night and Phil promised to come see them perform. That evening, Phil and I went to the legendary Riverboat Club in the Yorkville area of Toronto, where he reconnected with Burnie Fiedler, the owner. We watched Murray McLauchlan perform a set and, then, Phil got up and did a three song guest set where he introduced a new version of Here’s to the State of Mississippi retitled and reworded to Here’s to the State of Richard Nixon. We then stepped out the back door for a break and, while discussing things of various nature with a record salesman who professed to be a big Ochs fan, Burnie stepped out to join us and to share the news that a Quebec politician named Pierre Laporte, who had been kidnapped by the radical FLQ element in Quebec a few weeks earlier had just been found dead in the trunk of a car, murdered by his captors, as it turns out. Phil, whose political leanings were well known to be on the far left, freaked out. He determined, then and there, that I was to drive him to his hotel, allow him to pick up his belongings, and then drive him to the airport so he could return to Los Angeles, convinced that, as a political activist, that he was at risk of being arrested in some sweep of all radicals which, of course, being Canada, did not and would not happen. He would not be convinced, however, so I followed his wishes and dropped him at the terminal curb. The next morning at the A&M offices I told my superiors what had gone down, and we reached out to the promoters of the other shows on the schedule to cancel the rest of his appearances. It was a form of paranoia that I had not witnessed before, and, being Canadian, could not imagine existed, but, as Phil was American and old enough to remember the McCarthy era first hand, I did understand the root of his feelings. And it gave me a story to tell that no one else ever could.


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