Film Review: Counterculture Cowboy

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

| November-December 2011

  • philochs-sm.jpg

  • philochs-sm.jpg

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.

Gary Ashcraft
12/14/2011 9:40:16 PM

To call Phil a liberal is so very wrong, to say he was left-wing is trite and simplistic. He was a one of a kind genuine original that fit no mold. He stood up for and went down in flames over the things he believed in, knowing that he was all alone, manning the walls against all that he felt was and is wrong. All you need to do is listen to 'Love Me I Am Liberal' to see how well he understood the depth and sincerity of all those about him.