Yeah, I saw Utah yesterday, and he was quite amazing. Even if he never sang a note in his life, I'd still go to his concerts. He's just a man full of wonderful stories, and wonderful ideas. Quite the treasure.
"So many Christian conservatives. So few lions." --Utah Phillips
"Folk music is boring." --Utah Phillips
When the sound bites were over, he had some good stuff to say too. I wish I'd written them down yesterday, I've already forgotten one or two of the stories I wanted to share. But he talked about 3 years ago, how he gave up his habit of sitting at his breakfast table, drinking tea and listening to "Morning Sedition" on NPR. It depressed him too much and didn't seem useful. So he started listening only long enough to find out whether we'd gone to war yet or not. If we hadn't, he'd go about his day, and if we had, he'd prepare to get arrested. (Ih his small-town California home, "a blue town in a red county in a blue state in a red country in a blue world", the arrest procedures were pretty lax. He had to sit in the street blocking traffic for hours before waving the cop over and finding out when they'd get arrested already. The cop asked how many of them there were, so they could start preparing meals in the jail. Then he asked, "how many vegetarian?")
"In a mass market economy, a revolutionary song is any song you choose to sing yourself. Welcome to the revolution." --Utah Phillips
"I have nothing to offer you in the way of a panacea to cure the current dilapidated appearance of reality." --Utah Phillips (paraphrased)
He talked about the upcoming day of action, on the 24th. And how his community sent out buses to protest last year, but has since realized that those in power will take whatever initiative they want regardless. So this year, they're going to act local. Two towns are going to come together to march, and they intend to shut down the army recruiting center between them. Direct action, he kept reminding us. You can change things without even setting foot in the voting booth.
"I tried to write a book but I can't. I've found that punctuation is no substitute for timing." --Utah Phillips
And damn, the man's an optimist! He talked about how bad things were in WW1, with much worse civil rights violations than we have now, but we came out of it with the 8 hour day and child labor laws. How things were worse during the depression, and we came out of it with more workers' rights. How things were bad during the cold war, and we came out of it with the Civil Rights Movement. He thinks we're going to survive this too, and dammit, if he does, so do I.
His main message was the same as I've been singing in Hebrew for years. It is not incumbent upon us to finish fixing things, but neither may we stop trying. Act local. Direct action. And do what you can.