It’s 1968, and on a flight between two campaign stops in the US, a freshly declared candidate for the Democratic nomination in that year’s presidential election is introduced by an aide to a friend of his, a singer-songwriter who specialises in topical comment.
The aide persuades the performer to sing one of his most poignant compositions. There isn’t a guitar handy, so Phil Ochs taps his foot to keep the beat and launches into Crucifixion: “They say they can’t believe it, it’s a sacrilegious shame,” goes one of the many verses. “Now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game?/ But you know I predicted it, I knew he had to fall/ How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small./ Tell me every detail, I’ve got to know it all,/ And do you have a picture of the pain?”
Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) listens politely at first, then realises the song is about his brother and his face crumples up. Ochs is rewarded with precisely what he’s singing about, “a picture of the pain”.
Ochs was among many on the left of American politics who were enthusiastic about the candidacy of senator Eugene McCarthy, but began to contemplate switching their allegiance once Bobby Kennedy entered the fray. Martin Luther King Jr apparently felt the same way, but was assassinated within weeks of Kennedy’s declaration of intent.
Read more at….What if Bobby became Prez in 1968: Would it change US?