Film Review: Counterculture Cowboy

PHIL OCHS: There But for Fortune (on DVD; First Run Features)


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The life of protest singer Phil Ochs plays out like a silver-screen Western in Kenneth Bowser’s documentary. Through the ’60s and early ’70s, Ochs strummed dissenting folk music with heroic gusto. “Left-wing politics was his career,” says one friend, “but . . . what was in his heart was not left-wing politics at all. It was John Wayne and Gary Cooper.” Ever the Lone Ranger defending America from the union-busting, bigoted, warmongering bandits of the establishment, Ochs rode off into the sunset for good at the too-young age of 35—alone but for despair.


168-cover-thumb.jpgHave something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the November-December 2011 issue of Utne Reader.