Posted: July 7, 2010
I think of Phil Ochs on July 4. Phil was a cult contemporary of Bob
Dylan from the 60s and 70s (and with full disclosure I reveal was a
friend and client of mine when I practiced law). And Phil wrote a
song called "Another Country."* The lyric reads as follows:
Oh, a rifle took its aim/ And a man fell to the ground./ A time of
terror when the bullet pierced the air/ I know that couldn't happen
here./ Oh, it must have been another country -- Yes, it must have
been another land./ That couldn't happen in the U.S.A./ We'd never
treat a man that way.
On another day of Independence and another year, Phil sang outside on
the streets leading a protest to the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.
Phil's "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" is the ultimate anti-war song:
It's always the old to lead us to the war It's always the young to
fall Now look at all we've won With the saber and the gun Tell me is
it worth it all.
For I stole California from the Mexican land
Fought in the bloody Civil War
Yes I even killed my brother
And so many others
And I ain't marchin' anymore.
For I marched to the battles
Of the German trench
In a war that was bound to end all wars
Oh I must have killed a million men
And now they want me back again
But I ain't marchin' anymore.
For I flew the final mission
In the Japanese sky
Set off the mighty mushroom roar
When I saw the cities burning
I knew that I was learning
That I ain't marchin' anymore.
Phil didn't live long enough to know about Iraq and Afghanistan.
The anger, the rage, the frustration of the revolutionaries of the
60s and 70s in the second half of the 20th Century is interesting
when contrasted to George M. Cohan who, with justifiable genuine
American pride, wrote "Over There."
Every son of Liberty Hurry right away, no delay, go today, Make your
daddy glad to have had such a lad Tell your sweetheart not to pine,
To be proud her boy's in line.
Over there, Over there
Send the world, send the word
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum tumming everywhere
Say a Prayer
Send the word,
Send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over.
And we won't be back till it's over over there!
Will it ever be over there? Will there ever be changing? Will we
always be going over somewhere and if we do, will we listen to George
M. Cohan and keep our eye on that grand old flag?
Indeed, the rockets still glare and bombs still burst in air and
we're still marchin'. Sorry, Phil, nothing has changed. It's always
the old who lead us to the wars and it's always the young who die.
My 4th of July flag will be flying, but now it's flying at half mast.