Michael Ochs is the brother of Phil Ochs:
A contemporary of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, Phil Ochs was one of the primary topical songwriters and folksingers of the 60's, protesting the escalating Vietnam conflict ("I Ain't Marching Anymore") and the struggle for civil rights in the South ("Here's to the State of Mississippi"). As his causes lost relevance in the 70's, his chronic depression became unbearable. He hanged himself in 1976.As his causes lost relevance in the 70's, his chronic depression became unbearable. That's a lot of causality to package up in one sentence. Does a songwriter gravitate toward protest songs because he is depressed or is he depressed because of the things that move him to protest? If he gains an audience protesting a political situation that then changes, will he become more depressed or less depressed? A human being is too complicated to subject to general questions like that.
A longtime friend, the publicist Bobbi Cowan, thinks Michael Ochs collects his photographs, primarily of 1950's and 60's musicians, as a way of "preserving time so that people don't forget what that time was about, what Phil was about." Michelle Phillips is more direct: "I think it's part of keeping his brother alive."
Back in the 1960s, I used to listen to Phil Ochs. I especially remember this one:
So do your duty, boys, and join with prideServe your country in her suicide.
Serve your country in her suicide
Find the flags so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die
I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over
One-legged veterans will greet the dawn
And they're whistling marches as they mow the lawn
And the gargoyles only sit and grieve
The gypsy fortune teller told me that we'd been deceived
You only are what you believe
I believe the war is over
It's over, it's over
This was from one of his later albums, which, I think I remember correctly, turned away from hardcore protest music. Notice how those lyrics give predominance to his inner life. You can go on with your involvement in the war, but I'm saying that beliefs are everything, and I'm going to believe in what I want to be true, that the war is over. This was a theme in the late 60s and early 70s, when artists got weary of political engagement and began to indulge in a naive form of politics that was really more about personal psychology. I hear that theme in John Lennon's "War is over/If you want it/War is over/Now."
RIP, Phil Ochs.