2018-11-30 20:02:55 UTC
Will Dockery mentioned Phil Ochs in the Billie Holiday thread. That mention reminded me of a thing I recently discovered. Ochs started recording in 1964, so this discussion is just off-topic, but please indulge me.
Some of you know that I like to explore the history of the university that I graduated from. I knew that Phil Ochs was an alumnus, and When I learned that he had been a journalism major I went looking for anything he may have written for the student newspaper.
One thing I found was a review of the play "A Thurber Carnival" from January 1962. Ochs by this time was already a coffee-shop folk singer. James Thurber was a favorite son of the university, so it might make sense that a young student with an artistic bent might identify with him. The review discussed specific things from the production like performances and staging, but ending with this discussion of what Ochs saw in Thurber himself:
"Thurber's effect stems from his association with common sentiments and everyday experiences with which his audience can identify. The material teases the audience without preaching; it is sophisticated enough to chide without provoking. Thurber's genius was a product of his deep insight into mankind, and his humor was a product of his deeper love."
This review got me thinking. To what extent did Ochs's own work live up to this value, to "tease without preaching" and "chide without provoking"? Bob Dylan, after all, later criticized Ochs for being too politically strident.