New CD:  This is Absolutely Real

As you know, my monthly-to-biannual newsletters only arrive when I have something important to say.  It’s time.  Drumroll, please:  I have just released my first solo album in eight years, titled “This is Absolutely Real:  Visions and Versions of Phil Ochs.”  

All the songs on the CD were written by Phil Ochs.  He was, as many of you know, best known as a great topical / political songwriter, with a gift for turning the news of his day into song.  But his songs are not simply still politically relevant.  Phil Ochs was a writer of great melodies and a poet of the highest order, and his best songs endure as great art.  And, in a world where politics is increasingly dehumanized and dehumanizing, the most defiant protest might be to reaffirm humanity by creating good - beautiful and challenging - music.   I’ve tried to do my small part with this CD.  

I came to learn these songs in my dozen years as part of the Phil Ochs Song Nights, organized and hosted by Phil’s sister Sonny.  As I do when interpreting anyone’s music, I’ve taken quite a few liberties, with the aim of bringing out something embedded in the song.   Long before today’s problems with propaganda and “fake news,” Phil Ochs’ songs, some using fantastical imagery, asked probing questions about the limits of power, the boundaries of what is real, and where the human heart can reside in a (seemingly) unfeeling world.  I see a lot of myself in Phil’s songs, and this album sounds like me.  And, I hope through it you can get to know a new side of Phil Ochs too.

Listen to the CD at:
Purchase CD and downloads at:

Eyes and Ears:  What I’m Reading and Listening to:

Jason Stanley, How Propaganda Works
Larry Diamond et al, eds., Authoritarianism Goes Global

David Bowie, Blackstar
Paul Dunmall Brass Project, Maha Samadhi
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updated: 2 months ago