Thursday, May 29, 2008

Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips

I'm here to change the world, and if I am not, I am probably wasting my time.
The Golden Voice of the Great Southwest passed away last week at the age of 73. Bruce “Utah” Phillips was most known for his storytelling and folk songs, much like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Utah lived the life of a hobo and railroad tramp and felt welcomed amongst those “spit out” by society. He took those experiences and transformed them into songs. He was powerful; his stories evoked a feeling of unity amongst the industrial workers of the world. He always fought hard for equal rights and labor laws.

…kids don’t have a little brother working in the coal mine; they don’t have a little sister coughing her lungs out in the looms of the big mill towns of the Northeast. Why? Because we organized; we broke the back of the sweatshops in this country; we have child labor laws. Those were not benevolent gifts from enlightened management. They were fought for, they were bled for, they were died for by working people, by people like us. Kids ought to know that. That’s why I sing these songs. That’s why I tell these stories, dammit. No root, no fruit!
Utah was a true eclectic, a historian, a peace activist, and pacifist.

Most recently his work with Ani Difranco on Fellow Workers* received a Grammy Award Nomination. He also collaborated with her on another album, The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere.**

…folk music isn't owned by anybody. Everybody owns it, like the national parks, the postal system, and the school system. It's our common property. There is nobody's name on it. Nobody can make money on it. It's not copy written.
I really feel that people will learn something by listening to his songs, if not that, at least they'll hear a good story and might even get a chuckle out of it!

*Personal favorites include: Stupid’s Pledge, Direct Action, Shoot or Stab Them, Why Come?, and Unless You Are Free
**Personal favorites include: Anarchy, Candidacy, Enormously Wealthy, Mess With People, Natural Resources, and Heroes

4 comments:

Irongirl01 said...

David Gans (yes that David Gans of the Grateful Dead hour) has a nice post up about Utah over on his Cloud Surfing blog. Link to the blog is over on the right.

Strawberry Shortcake said...

Yes! Thanks for the tip - the letter from Utah is a great read!

Nosilla said...

I had no idea he passed away...sniffle sniffle...what an inspiring man he was.

Strawberry Shortcake said...

nosilla, I'm so glad you're here!!! read on, baby, read on!