I ain t marchin anymore

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i ain t marchin anymore

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Published 02.12.2018


Rock History 101: Phil Ochs’s “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”

Dispensing with second guitarist Danny Kalb, Ochs performs alone on twelve original songs, an interpretation of Alfred Noyes ' " The Highwayman " set to music much as Poe 's "The Bells" had been set to music on the previous album and a cover of Ewan MacColl 's "The Ballad of the Carpenter". Of the twelve originals, probably the most noted was the title track , with its distinctive trilling guitar part, that spoke of a soldier sick of fighting. Also of note was the album closer, " Here's to the State of Mississippi ", a biting criticism of that state's lack of civil rights and general bigoted attitude. Other important songs include " Draft Dodger Rag " assailing those "red blooded Americans" who were in favor of US participation in the Vietnam War but did not fight because they were just summertime soldiers and sunshine patriots , "That Was The President" a tribute to John Kennedy written soon after his assassination , "Talking Birmingham Jam" which used the traditional talking blues form to assail the racist leaders of Birmingham and "Links on the Chain" attacking labor unions for excluding African-Americans and failing to support civil rights. Ochs showed great thematic versatility on the album, including not just blatantly anti-war or protest songs but also poetry Alfred Noyes, John Rooney, and Ewan MacColl and some songs his followers probably didn't want to hear.

Originally released on his album of the same name , "I Ain't Marching Anymore" is one of Ochs' best-known songs. Ochs said of the song that it "borders between pacifism and treason, combining the best qualities of both. Ochs performed the song in on the ABC television special Dissent or Treason , one of the rare instances in which he appeared on a national American television broadcast. Ochs was subsequently called as a witness in the trial of the Chicago Seven , who were charged with conspiracy and other crimes related to the protests. The defense attorneys asked Ochs to sing "I Ain't Marching Anymore", but the judge wouldn't allow it. Instead, Ochs recited the lyrics. He was accompanied by The Blues Project and a bagpipe player.

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Midway through all the eager pulpit-pounding, though, the year-old Ochs takes a turn both petulant and self-effacing, listing the most frequent complains that have been lobbed at him in his short career:. Simpler times.

His style was direct like a knife to the jugular of American politics, unashamed to rip his targets a new one by putting up a much needed mirror to the system. More often then not, the U. During the ten year span of his career, Ochs managed to pump out eight radical records, all with the same message of resistance and feelings frustration that defined the time period. Out of his legacy however, there would be one song in particular that would stand out to define a movement with a simple timeless phrase that is still relevant today. Coming off of his second record of the same name in , the song dives into the short history of this country focusing on the wars we have waged in the relatively small amount of time we have been around. The opening guitar picking is quick, strong, and instantly recognizable as a generational battle cry.


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