Two musical favorites: Phil Ochs and The Decemberists

I post this stuff  because not all audiences are aware of all musical genres. Like a person familiar with contemporary pop or folk music may enjoy the music of  Phil Ochs from the 60s. Or A person anchored in the 60s may enjoy the great songs of the Decemberists. So here I try to bridge those gaps.

Phil Ochs
Phil died in 1976. He was a contemporary of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez among others. His work was covered by many musicians. He is usually associated with his topical and protest related songs, which resonate even today. Not as well known are non-topical songs that were poignant and deeply affecting. One favorite of mine is:

Jim Dean of Indiana – Not to be confused with the hyperactive Eagles hit James Dean (“too fast to live, too young to die…”). This touching tribute invokes his adoptive parents and the news of his death. There apparently is not a video of him singing this song, so this is a video slide show of James Dean with Phil singing in narration.

His probably most played song is “There but for Fortune” now available on YouTube!

The Decemberists
In the beginning, there was a Russian rebel group called the Decembrists.

From Wikipedia;
The Decembrist revolt or the Decembrist uprising took place in Russia on 26 December 1825. Russian army officers led about 3,000 soldiers in a protest against Czar Nicholas I‘s assumption of the throne after his elder brother Constantine removed himself from the line of succession. Because these events occurred in December, the rebels were called the Decembrists.

On 15 January 1826, the rebels met defeat and were sent to Saint Petersburg to stand trial with the northern leaders. The Decembrists were taken to the Winter Palace to be interrogated, tried, and convicted. Kakhovsky was executed by hanging together with four other leading Decembrists: Pavel Pestel; the poet Kondraty Ryleyev; Sergey Muravyov-Apostol; and Mikhail Bestuzhev-Ryumin. Other Decembrists were exiled to Siberia, Kazakhstan, and the Far East.

When the five Decembrists were hanged something unusual happened. The ropes that were being used to hang them parted before any of them actually died. This caused a sigh of relief in the crowd because, according to a centuries-old tradition, any condemned prisoner who survived a botched execution would be set free. Rather than free these prisoners, Nicholas ordered new ropes and the prisoners were hanged again. This was the last public execution in Russian imperial history.

Fun times back in the pre-USSR!

Anyways, speed forward about 175 years and we have the creation of the musical group the Decemberists in Portland Oregon! They did name themselves after the revolution, but their music is far from revolting! Yay! I enjoy their musically unique melodies, phrasing and storytelling! One favorite is Sons and Daughters... I saw them in Boston shortly after the 2008 election, and the audience went nuts during this song, quite a moment….


About Don Segal

See Commentary, Photos, Drawings and Poetry on my blog at
Gallery | This entry was posted in Folk Music, Indie, Indie Music, Lyrics, Singer Songwriter, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Two musical favorites: Phil Ochs and The Decemberists

  1. Pingback: Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs | Poetry by Don Segal

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