"In a mass marketing culture a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself." - Utah Phillips
December 15, 2010 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Full Utah Phillips concert from 2007: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. If you don't know who Utah Phillips is, be prepared to meet one of the great performers of our age, telling funny stories and cracking jokes, singing great songs, and generally being a world treasure. If you want to know more about this great singer, songwriter, and peace and labor activist, you can watch an hour long documentary on him from Democracy Now that was made after he passed away in 2008. [previously]
posted by Kattullus (26 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
I was shocked when I found out a year after that he'd died. God do we need him more than ever now.
posted by kipmanley at 4:47 PM on December 15, 2010

Great guy. Heard him in a coffee shop at a college a good long time ago. Was a hobo and very self -effacing
posted by Postroad at 4:53 PM on December 15, 2010

First time I heard him was paired with Ani DiFranco's music. Loved his bit to university students about being called "our nation's greatest natural resource". That whole "Have you seen what they do to natural resources in this country?!" part - had me in stitches.

But my favorite is his anecdote about going to a diner with his daughter who, embarrassed by his behavior, tells him to "act normal". A waitress corrected her: "Your father is normal; what you mean is average."

Great guy, sorely missed.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:08 PM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]

Thank you for these links!
posted by entropone at 5:26 PM on December 15, 2010

The real shame is that he ever paired up with Ani DiFranco.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:26 PM on December 15, 2010

Saw him in Denver about a year before he died. Gave a performance at a small church. Absolutely fantastic. Brimming over with the spark that made his stories so great. It really did feel like I was in the presence of a legend, one who connected me to an undercurrent of 20th century American history I was never really exposed to in school.
posted by Hesychia at 5:29 PM on December 15, 2010

Threeway Handshake: The real shame is that he ever paired up with Ani DiFranco.

Even if you don't like Ani DiFranco, it introduced a whole generation of folk fans to Utah Phillips. Can't see the harm in that. Personally, I quite like Ani DiFranco as a musician and songwriter.
posted by Kattullus at 5:32 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Really, Threeway Handshake? I only ever found out about him through her, and I'm glad that I did. Had he not paired up with her, I'm sure a lot of other people like me wouldn't have heard of him either, and that, I think, would be pretty unfortunate.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:32 PM on December 15, 2010

So that's what the preview button is for...
posted by Ghidorah at 5:33 PM on December 15, 2010

Yeah, seriously Threeway'. If you'd ever seen them together, it wasn't that they were really "paired". When I saw them together, it was just Ani coming out to introduce him, and then she let him do his thing. I think did a couple of songs together, but mostly Ani just sat and smiled at the guy while he did his thing (with that amazing, huge, sexy, genuine, joyous, loving smile). Hopefully this doesn't turn into a what's-wrong-with-Ani discussion, though. Utah was just as genuine & loving as Ani, from what I got to see. THe world could always use more people like them.

Wish I could think of another you-wouldn't-know-about-this-person-unless-you-knew-about-this-other-person-first pairing, but I can't. Anyone else?
posted by Lukenlogs at 5:41 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ol' Utah's up in Heaven now.
posted by entropone at 6:03 PM on December 15, 2010

Count me in amongst those who learned about Utah through the inimitable Ani, but for someone who was raised on Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, this wasn't exactly a huge leap. The news of his death isn't exactly news to me, so it's hard to summon up the proper period-ness for Utah, but suffice it to say that I still vote for Eugene Debs.

On a related note, I plan on running for President of the US in 2012. My platform is that I'll spend at least 4 years shooting pool and scratching my ass.
posted by Panjandrum at 6:06 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sloth and indolence, eh?
posted by entropone at 6:11 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

i had the privlege of meeting him once. he really was a great man,
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:45 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks Kattullus. I too found out about Utah via Ani DiFranco. Nothing but love for her here.

Lukenlogs - Pet Shop Boys reintroduced Dusty Springfield.
posted by arcticseal at 7:26 PM on December 15, 2010

Just a quick word of advice -- don't EVER confuse Utah Phillips with Emo Phillips. It will only end in tears.
posted by hippybear at 7:39 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

confuse Utah Phillips with Emo Phillips...

Have they ever been photographed in the same room together?
posted by ovvl at 7:48 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the links, Katullus.

If you haven't followed the link to the interview, I highly recommend it - Utah was a well-spoken guy who was the epitome of "the examined life". Thoughtful, funny, and deeply in touch with the human condition. (He has huuuuge bonus points in my book, because he was a real union man. He knew, and understood, the history of the American Labor movement and why it's important.)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:49 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

This guy's new to me. What a character. Great stuff. Thank, K.
posted by storybored at 8:34 PM on December 15, 2010

Marisa stpt is right--Natural Resources is a hilarious story.
posted by umbĂș at 9:10 PM on December 15, 2010

Good though.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:29 PM on December 15, 2010

He once had to bring electricity lines to the Navajo. He even would hook up their outhouses. He was one of the first to wire a head for a reservation.

Moose Turd Pie!

It's good, though.
posted by inturnaround at 10:04 PM on December 15, 2010

I saw him a few times in the '70's. At the time, he hailed from "God Damned Spokane," so he made it around the PNW fairly often.

Also at this time, the Oregon tax form had a "check off for arts" on it, which donated a dollar which would then be put in a fund to purportedly support arts in the state.

He riffed on that until he arrived at "jerk off for the arts" and mused whether that would ever make it on the tax forms.
posted by Danf at 8:18 AM on December 16, 2010

So happy. He is one of the best teachers I ever had. I am so thankful I got to tell him so.
posted by psylosyren at 3:40 PM on December 16, 2010

"I Can't Believe it's Not Jesus."
posted by psylosyren at 3:49 PM on December 16, 2010

Today a family member was feeling stressed about life and the holidays and school stuff and needed cheering up. So I told the egg-sitting horse joke and that worked its stress-relieving charm. Utah Phillips, a force for good after he has passed. If that isn't the very definition of a saint, I don't know what is.
posted by Kattullus at 4:33 PM on December 16, 2010

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