This Wednesday, in New York at the IFC theater, a new documentary about folk singer / political activist will open. Direced by Kenneth Bowser, it’s titled, after one of his greatest songs, "Phil Ochs: There But For Forture, and it will debut in at last nine other cities between now and March. I’ve screened it, and it’s quite excellent, with commentary by, among others, Sean Penn, Tom Hayden, Joan Baez, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Bragg, Paul Krassner and Peter Yarrow.
There’s plenty of music, of course, from "I Ain’t A-Marchin’ Anymore" to one of my favorites, "Tape From California," but it is also relentlessly political, like Phil. It also does not shy away from the drinking and bi-polar horrors of his final years, culminating in his death by hanging at the age of 35 in 1976.
Later this week, I’ll write more, but I wanted to get something posted now, pre-premiere, along with the trailer. As senior editor at Crawdaddy magazine, I happened to meet and hang out a bit with Phil for a couple of years in the early to mid-1970s, mainly during his less manic periods, although I also witnessed him getting tossed out of a party at William Kunster’s home after he started swinging a golf club over his head. More on all this later.