Song of the Week – I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore, Phil Ochs & Chicago, Graham Nash

Ignored             Obscured              Restored

It was this week in 1968 that the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago.  That was 55 years ago!

As most of you know (and maybe remember) this was the convention that resulted in chaos and violence when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley called in his police force and the National Guard to quell the anti-Viet Nam war protests that were being staged outside the convention hall.

One of the most important organizers of the protests was the folk artist, Phil Ochs.  Most other artists, including Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, and Paul Simon refused invitations to attend and perform.  Only the MC5, managed by Yippie John Sinclair, accepted the invitation.

Ochs played “I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore”.  The male protesters burned their draft cards.

In 2018, he Chicago publication The Reader reported:

 “Wednesday, August 28, (is) the day that most people think about when they think about that convention in Chicago. That early morning, protesters agitated along the east side of Michigan Avenue across from the Conrad Hilton Hotel where the Democratic delegates were staying. That included Ochs, who wore a flag pin on his suit jacket.”

“… about 3,000 protesters tried to march and the police didn’t let them and some of them started throwing rocks, sticks, sometimes feces. What ensued was a 17-minute melee in front of the hotel between the marchers and a force that included some of the 12,000 Chicago police in addition to 6,000 army troops and 5,000 National Guardsmen that had been called to protect Chicago on the orders of Mayor Daley. Officers beat activists bloody in the streets of Chicago with nightsticks—live on national TV.”

This incident inspired Graham Nash to write his song “Chicago”.

Today’s rock stars often choose to “play it safe”, rather than engage in the political discourse that may alienate some part of their fan base.  I wish we could bring back the old days.

Enjoy… until next week.