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Obit: Utah Phillips (1935-2008)

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GUEST,Mark Ross 24 May 08 - 11:58 AM
John MacKenzie 24 May 08 - 12:00 PM
katlaughing 24 May 08 - 12:03 PM
Jeri 24 May 08 - 12:04 PM
Bill D 24 May 08 - 12:45 PM
kendall 24 May 08 - 12:47 PM
jacqui.c 24 May 08 - 12:53 PM
bobad 24 May 08 - 12:54 PM
Ebbie 24 May 08 - 12:54 PM
Def Shepard 24 May 08 - 01:05 PM
SINSULL 24 May 08 - 01:30 PM
Waddon Pete 24 May 08 - 01:32 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 24 May 08 - 01:53 PM
gnu 24 May 08 - 01:54 PM
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Subject: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Mark Ross
Date: 24 May 08 - 11:58 AM

It is my sad duty to report that Utah passed away last night in his sleep. I'm a little distraught at the moment so I can't say much more than that I will miss him terribly.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:00 PM

So sad, I can think of many people who will be very upset by the news. Not least Cap'n Morse.

May your god go with you Utah.

Giok


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:03 PM

I can *hear* a lot of long, lonesome wails, not unlike old train whistles, at how sad many will be over this, esp. Kendall and Art Thieme.

My condolences to all who held him dear.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Jeri
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:04 PM

This is the end of an era, truly.
I offer condolences and hugs to all those who loved him. This is so big... his life was bigger.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Bill D
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:45 PM

Typing something will not express what this loss means....I will just go play some of his songs and remember better times.

He was a man who was true to himself and a champion of the people.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:47 PM

Thanks for calling me Mark. I appreciate that.
There are no words, and I can't see to type anyway.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: jacqui.c
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:53 PM

It's hard to think of a world that doesn't have Utah in it. He made a big noise throughout his life and we know that many people are better off for his actions and that many people have been touched by his genius.

His legacy is his songs, written from the bottom of a very big heart.

Rest in peace Bruce - the universe has taken you back.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: bobad
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:54 PM

Condolences.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 May 08 - 12:54 PM

I'm so sorry.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Def Shepard
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:05 PM

Another true great gone, on the bright side, that heavenly choir is sounding better and better all the time.


'Go rest high on that mountain
Son, your work on earth is done
Go to heaven a-shoutin'
Love for the Father and Son'

- Vince Gill


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: SINSULL
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:30 PM

I knew it was coming but not so soon. Through tears: Rest in peace. Or better yet, ride the train to glory.
Mary


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:32 PM

Such sad news.....my thoughts are with you at this sad and difficult time...he will live on through his songs for a very long time.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:53 PM

RIP. My heartfelt regrets to his family. And thank you, Utah, for the many songs and stories, and the hours of entertainment you've given, and that yet to come.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: gnu
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:54 PM

RIP


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Suzy T.
Date: 24 May 08 - 01:57 PM

I am so sad. I have known Bruce since I was a teenager. When I spoke with him a couple of weeks ago, and when he called in to talk to the audience at the concert at the Freight, he did sound very much weakened. I am so thankful to have known him and to have been able to enjoy his amazing performances (both on and off stage).

He changed a lot of lives and his work that he leaves behind will continue to do that, I believe. My sympathy and best wishes go out to his wife Joanna.

Suzy T.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:03 PM

The grieving for this one will be with us for a very long time. Utah was more than a writer and singer of songs - more than a folklorist and storyteller. He was a teacher and a sage, and that is how I will remember him.

There are a number of projects in the works to remember Utah, and to make sure that Joanna is able to keep hearth and home together. Utah was deeply appreciative of all of the supportive efforts of the folk music community. I like to think that it was a way to show him that we had really been listening when he talked about community.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: karen k
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:04 PM

I am saddened by Utah's passing. Having seen him at least a dozen times and had him stay at my home a couple of times I can say that I knew him. I enjoyed him every time I saw him. I remember one workshop I went to at the Four College Festival in Massacusetts around 84 or 85. Utah did a 3 hour workshop on riding the rails. He only sang 3 or 4 songs. The rest of the workshop was stories from his days on the trains. Fascinating. Best workshop I ever went to. How I wish I'd had a taperecorder that day.

The other thing I loved about Utah is how he would scour the local papers wherever he was singing. Then he would refer to local happenings, humorous or otherwise during his sets. One I particularly remember was about a terrible circus fire in Hartford, CT July 6 1944. 168 died. The event became known as "The Day the Clowns Cried". One little girl, "Little Miss 1565", was not identified. This touched Utah very deeply. A few years ago I was able to send him articles that told that the child was finally identified and a headstone with her name on it placed on her grave. He was very glad to hear of this.

My thoughts go out to his family. He was an amazing human being. The world has lost a wonderful man. He will live on through his songs.

karen


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: maeve
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:06 PM

As bright as the sun, he shared his light and life with so many people.
As big as the sun is, his heart was bigger.
Utah's stories and songs are faithful to his long life, and our memories of Utah are warm and true and bound to grow as we pass them from one to another.

Remember.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:07 PM

He had many past lives and adventures, but he has been part of the Sierra Foothills community for as long as I can recall; and we thought of him as ours. He lived in that hippie county to the north of me, and I guess I never saw him other than at concerts, but that was often. It was always a pleasure to see him.

May he rest in peace, and may we not forget the big, passionate man who loved to laugh at his own jokes.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:08 PM

My first memory of Utah was being transfixed as I watched him emcee a festival at Bear Mountain in NY back in the late 70's.   I can only thank him for all the wonderful memories since then, and he is someone who will not be forgotten.

Rest in Peace Utah, you made a difference in this world.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:13 PM

Shock---again---sadness---emptiness. Too often these days---
Art


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Diva
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:18 PM

Ach.. no   to ach nooo those friends an' family condolonces.....


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:19 PM

One of the great ones. Go well, Bruce.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:21 PM

I am grateful for one thing. That I brought my daughter to meet him and see him tell his stories and sing his songs before he died.

I am stunned. Of course it was inevitable. But I never expected it so soon. You never do.

Go in peace, old-timer, and come back double strength. We'll be watching for you along the byways.


A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: DADGBE
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:25 PM

Go to sleep, you weary hobo,
Let the towns drift slowly by.
Can't you hear the steel rails humming?
That's a hobo's lullaby.

Rest old friend. Thanks for the afternoons in the living room. You're sorely missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: wysiwyg
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:36 PM

I met his music through the wonderful interpretations of Jim Craig in Chicago, who always, always referred to him as U. Utah Phillips.

I bless all who knew him personally and I give thanks that his departure from our world was, apparently, so gentle. I believe we all meet again someday and I look forward to singing with him then.

My condolences to those who need them.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: maire-aine
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:38 PM

My deepest sympathy to his family and all who knew him.

Maryanne


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Peace
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:38 PM

This is a tough one to hear about. Condolences to Joanna, and rest well, Bruce.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 May 08 - 02:53 PM

Art, I read this in my poetry book this morning and thought of you and all of the friends you have lost recently. For you and Utah:

The longer we are together
the larger death grows around us.
How many we know by now
who are dead! We, who were young,
Now count the cost of having been.
And yet as we know the dead
we grow familiar with the world.
We, who were young and loved each other
ignorantly, now come to know
each other in love, married
by what we have done, as much
as by what we intend. Our hair
turns white with our ripening
as though to fly away in some
coming wind, bearing the seed
of what we know. It was bitter to learn
that we come to death as we come
to love, bitter to face
the just and solving welcome
that death prepares. But that is bitter
only to the ignorant, who pray
it will not happen. Having come
the bitter way to better prayer, we have
the sweetness of ripening. How sweet
to know you by the signs of the world!

- Wendell Berry -


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Alice
Date: 24 May 08 - 03:13 PM

My sympathy to all who feel this loss. -Alice


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 24 May 08 - 03:28 PM

I never met him. We had something in common. My father was a representative for the I.W.W. and demonstrated in Union Square in NYC in 1915 against the exectution of Joe Hill by the Utah firing squad on a trumped-up murder charge.

I always considered Utah a kindred spirit whom I never got to meet.

His songs will live on. His compassion and sense of social justice speaks for itself.
He will be sorely missed.

Today, it is so easy to forget the spokespeople for justice. Many of them are thought to be "weird" or somehow "out of step" with current society.

When I think of Utah, I think of the brave people being denigrated by a corrupted Media.
I think of Cindy Sheehan, Scott Ritter, and the whistle-blowers in this vast ignominious
Administration. I think of Gene Debs, Ingersoll, LaFollette, Emma Goldman, and the other great advocates for our system of justice in America.

I think of how shallow the dialogue has become about the perversion and destruction of our democracy.

I think of Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman,
Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, Jeremy Scahill and the other Truth-Tellers who attempt to
dispel the ignorance and keep the true values of our country alive.

In this, I think of U. Utah Phillips, the great musical Truth-Teller. His works will live on.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: MaineDog
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:05 PM

It is sad indeed. I was biking in Portland today, right by the narrow guage railroad by the shore. It was the first steam train I have been near since 1991, and I immediately thought of Utah and his (?) song "Daddy, whats a train?". I remembered lots of train songs and bits, from Utah, and elsewhere, and the first time my daddy took me to see a real steam train up close, when I was about 6. Then I came in and saw this thread.

I remember meeting him at Fox Hollow back in the sixties. My wife Linda and he were talking, and she mentioned that she had started to make Appalachian dulcimer kits to sell. He said that dulcimers made good bathtub toys. It got worse from there.

MD


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: bankley
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:17 PM

R.I.P.   keep messin' with them up yonder


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:37 PM

I'm sad that he is gone. I'm sad that I will never sing his songs again, but I'm also grateful that my last paid performance was with him in Grass Valley CA.That honor and great memory will never die.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Seamus Kennedy
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:57 PM

Bruce was also very kind to two young Irish performers who came to the Earl of Old Towne for a Sunday afternoon open mike back in the early seventies.

Another great one gone.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 24 May 08 - 04:58 PM

I did not know Utah and only learned of him on the Mudcat. He seems like a kindred spirit though, who was willingto swim against the current! Condolences to all his friends and RIP!
          Sandy


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: catspaw49
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:02 PM

No words of mine could ever express the effect of his life on all of us nor the depth and breadth of his influence throughout folk music. Art, Kendall, MArk, and others can speak of the personal man but the public man left so much to so many for so long that nothing can adequately gauge his life's work........Simply an amazing individual.......

Now a traveling life might seem all right,
A life without worry or care;
Always up and always out and always going somewhere,
But I'll tell you my friend, it's not where you are
But your reason for being there.

Like a bird on the wing I hear a voice sing
As over the prairies I roll
But I'd give my life to spend one more night
In the arms of my own Phoebe Snow.



Thank you.......No make that Thank U.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 24 May 08 - 05:29 PM

"Bruce "Utah" Phillips served in the United States Army for three years beginning in 1956. Witnessing the devastation of post-war Korea greatly influenced his social and political thinking. Following service, he returned to Salt Lake City, Utah and joined Ammon Hennacy from the Catholic Worker Movement in establishing a mission house of hospitality named after the activist Joe Hill.[2] [3]Phillips worked at the Joe Hill House for the next eight years, then ran for the U.S. Senate as a candidate of Utah's Peace and Freedom Party in 1968. He received 2,019 votes (0.5%) in an election won by Republican Wallace F. Bennett.

Phillips met folk singer Rosalie Sorrels in the early 1950s, and has remained a close friend of hers ever since. It was Sorrels who started playing the songs that Phillips wrote, and through her his music began to spread. After leaving Utah in the late '60s, he went to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was befriended by the folk community at the CaffŽ Lena coffee house, where he became a staple performer throughout that decade.

An avid railfan, Phillips has recorded several albums of music related to the railroads, especially the era of steam locomotives. His first recorded album, Good Though!, is an example, and contains such songs as "Daddy, What's a Train?" and "Queen of the Rails" as well as what may be his most famous composition, "Moose Turd Pie" [4]wherein he tells a tall tale of his work as a gandy dancer repairing track in the Southwestern United States desert.

In 1991 Phillips recorded, in one take, an album of song, poetry and short stories entitled I've Got To Know, inspired by his anger at the first Gulf War. The album includes "Enola Gay," his first composition written about the United States' atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Phillips was a mentor to Kate Wolf. He has recorded songs and stories with Rosalie Sorrels on a CD called The Long Memory (1996), originally a college project from Montana. Ani DiFranco has recorded two CDs, The Past Didn't Go Anywhere (1996) and Fellow Workers (1999), with him. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work with Ani DiFranco. His "Green Rolling Hills" was made into a country hit by Emmylou Harris, and "The Goodnight-Loving Trail" has become a classic as well, being recorded by Ian Tyson, Tom Waits, and others.

Phillips has become an elder statesman for the folk music community, and a keeper of stories and songs that might otherwise have passed into obscurity. He is also a member of the great Traveling Nation, the community of hobos and railroad bums that populates the midwest United States along the rail lines, and is an important keeper of their history and culture.

When Kate Wolf grew ill and was forced to cancel concerts, she asked Phillips to fill in. Suffering from an ailment which makes it more difficult to play guitar, Phillips hesitated, citing his declining guitar ability. "Nobody ever came just to hear you play," she said. Phillips tells this story as a way of explaining how his style over the years has become increasingly based on storytelling instead of just songs. He is a gifted storyteller and monologist, and his concerts generally have an even mix of spoken word and sung content. He attributes much of his success to his personality. "It is better to be likeable than talented," he often says, self-deprecatingly.

Until it lost its funding, Phillips hosted his own weekly radio show, Loafer's Glory: The Hobo Jungle of the Mind.

In August 2007, Phillips announced that he would undergo catheter ablation to address his heart problems.[5] Later that autumn Phillips announced that due to health problems he could no longer tour.[6]

Phillips died on May 23, 2008 in Nevada City, California, of complications of heart disease. "
(Wikipedia Article)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 May 08 - 06:18 PM

I cannot describe adequately how I feel at this moment. It was always my goal to meet and sing with Utah. Over the last 4 months or so we became friends over the telephone, as I planned the benefit concerts for him at The Ark and at the Wealthy Theater. We even sang to each other over the phone 2 weeks ago. Art and I spoke a few weeks back and Art told me how it was from listening to Utah that he learned how to use humor to get across important points. I spoke with Utah about this and he felt honored at that, and then spent a half hour talking to me about the whys and hows of doing that. Garnet Rogers, Claudia Schmidt, Matt Watroba, and I were talking in the green room about his preparation to play a local venue, how he went out and bought papers and visited libraries, so he could appear to know about the town he was in. I asked him about that a few days ago, and he told me that if folks were going to pay him, he should have enough respect to get to know the stuff that affected them. He told me how he would spend a lot of time preparing, so he could sound very much "unrehearsed" in his concerts.

And the last thing he did, was to thank me for all that I was doing!! I just chuckled and explained to him that I was simply paying down an enormous debt that I, and others like me, owed him from his years of carrying the water of common sense and progressive ideas. His humility absolutely floored me. That is something the great ones share. People like Utah, and Jean Ritchie, understand who they are but keep themselves real with regard to their fame. And I admire a person who is willing to accept graciously the kind of help they gave so freely over 30+ years.

We will go on with the projects we are doing. I have a concert in Grand Rapids, MI on June 18, and we will use it to help Joanna with expenses. We will remember our friend. We will sing through the tears, just as he admonished us to "sing through the hard times".

Those of us that perform now have the obligation to keep his voice alive in our work. It is our obligation to sing of the things he sang of, espouse the values he espoused. Let us get on with it.

I will miss you, sir. God be good to you.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Deckman
Date: 24 May 08 - 06:27 PM

Another good man gone ... we are all diminished by his absence ... but we are all the better for his presence. Bob


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Dakota Dave Hull
Date: 24 May 08 - 06:48 PM

It's hard to imagine a world without Bruce Phillips. It's a sad, sad day. But you know, we're lucky, too, because we knew him, we know his songs, his rants, his art. Fortunately, we will have all of that for the rest of our lives.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 24 May 08 - 07:22 PM

His "Phoebe Snow" is one of my very favorite songs, and I'm so glad I recorded it before I lost my voice.When he told me that he would never sing it again after hearing my version, I didn't know what to do with that, but I finally realized that was a supreme compliment from the master.
So funny, so bright, so interesting and downright humble. What a guy. His like we will not see again.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Nancy King
Date: 24 May 08 - 07:28 PM

I remember a musical gathering twenty-five years or so ago, at which we spent virtually an entire evening singing nothing but Utah Phillips songs. It wasn't planned that way -- it just happened. Each song would remind somebody of another great one, and we just went on and on.

How very sad it is to lose such a wonderful person: singer, raconteur, poet, activist -- all that and more. I sure am glad he put together his "Starlight on the Rails: a Songbook" 4-CD album. It really is a phenomenal collection and source, and an amazing body of work.

It's hard to say goodbye to one of my heroes. We sure will miss you, Bruce.

Nancy


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 24 May 08 - 08:00 PM

My condolences to Bruce's family and friends. It hurts to lose the good ones.
- Phil


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: bbc
Date: 24 May 08 - 08:44 PM

I had the honor to hear the sad news from Sandy Paton this afternoon & to give him a hug. As I sit here & listen to Wanda Fischer's tribute to Bruce on tonight's "Hudson River Sampler" radio show, it gives me a chance to reflect on Bruce's life & music. I didn't know him as a personal friend, but was privileged to see him & hear him perform several times--mostly at the Old Songs Festival near Albany, New York--a very talented, interesting man. Since I have not been a part of the folk music community as long as many of you, I bought Bruce's recording, "The Telling Takes me Home" to help educate me about his music. My sympathies go out to the many who love him. May his spirit rest in peace; his was a life well-lived.

best to you all,

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Duane D.
Date: 24 May 08 - 09:03 PM

I, also heard the sad news from Sandy Paton, as I was with bbc at the Paton's home today. I have fond memories of hearing Utah Phillips MC many concerts at festivals long gone. I remember one particular occasion, I think it was back in the mid or late 1970s, hearing Utah tell his story about the "Moscow Hold" and hearing the audience chime in on a particular line that repeated regularly, like a chorus, perhaps my first time hearing that story. I think that memory comes from the Folk Festival that Dick and Marlene Levine ran for many years in Middletown, New Jersey. For others here who were living in northern NJ in the mid-1970s, may remember the first coffeehouse, pre-dating Minstrel, run by The Folk Project, the former organization, Project 21, ran for several years in Chester, NJ, the coffeehouse, "Good, Though," the punchline from the story about Moose Turd Pie. Utah's music touched me personally and I used to regularly sing several of his songs, I guess I need to relearn them, as they all need to be sung again. I will miss him as well and he will continue to live on in his stories and song.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Tom Nelligan
Date: 24 May 08 - 09:27 PM

I don't know anyone whose personality combined humor, wisdom, a warm affection for the vast majority of the human race, and a well-deserved scorn for the arrogant rich and powerful as perfectly as Utah Phillips. I'm glad I had a chance to hear him and say hello and thanks now and then over the years. He was one of a kind and will be much missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Bill D
Date: 24 May 08 - 09:44 PM

Here's the song I chose to listen to today.(I'll do the others gradually). I learned this almost as soon as I heard it, over 25 years ago. It's one of the few he didn't write the words to, but learned it from Rosalie Sorrels.

You can read what Utah said about it on this section of his site
(scroll up from the song)

The Sweet Briar


"The sweet briar and the aurum brush
With blossoms purple gold and red
Are flames that bloom within the bush
And sacred seems the ground I tread.
The golden bees, the golden bees
Mock Memnon's sweetest melodies;
The golden bees, the golden bees
Mock Memnon's sweetest melodies.

In shadow of the wood I lie
Un-waked by dreams of noisy mart;
Where dust and soot soil not the sky
Nor hammers beat on human heart;
Nor shuttles fleet, nor shuttles fleet
Weave life into a winding sheet;
Nor shuttles fleet, nor shuttles fleet
Weave life into a winding sheet.

When the pale axman strikes his stroke
And takes the warm life from my breast,
Plant by my grave a sapling oak
And violets of azure crest.
The oaken staff, the oaken staff
My shaft, the flowers my epitaph;
The oaken staff, the oaken staff
My shaft, the flowers my epitaph."


I'd like to think someone will plant an Oak and some violets for him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Eric Cole
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:03 PM

The thoughts and words came rushing in to my mind like a din when I read the news. I could not make out any one thought. Then the snippet of his words I most often quote came floating to the surface:
"I tell you my friends it's not where you are, but your reason for being there."

Even as a pre-adolescent these words resonated with me.

Bruce was "Good though!"


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Sorcha
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:12 PM

Well shit. Goodnite, Bruce.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: astro
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:24 PM

Both Desert Dancer and I extend our condolences and thoughts for Utah's family and friends. We have enjoyed him so much and appreciate his life. It is a tribute to a well-lived life that so many are touched and thoughtful of him at his passing. We will remember!

Astro and Desert Dancer

Michael and Becky now in Durango....


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Richard B
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:39 PM

I've been a fan for many years. Last Spring, I was fortunate to hear him at the Strawberry Music Festival. And fortunate as well to keep arriving at the washhouse just before or behind him for the next couple of days, until we had a nodding acquaintance of that distinguished sort...

The last time I saw him, we were exiting together, and stood in the afternoon sunshine there in the pine trees, talking for a little while. I asked him a few questions about some favorite songs. He was gracious and interested in my questions. I thanked him for his time, and all his work, and we shook hands.

I'm very sad tonight. Heartfelt condolences to his family, and many good friends.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,bflat
Date: 24 May 08 - 10:59 PM

My deepest condolences. He was special.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 May 08 - 11:12 PM

Here's the official obituary from the family:

    The offical Obituary as provided by the family. May 24, 2008

"Folksinger, Storyteller, Railroad Tramp Utah Phillips Dead at 73"
Nevada City, California:

Utah Phillips, a seminal figure in American folk music who performed extensively and tirelessly for audiences on two continents for 38 years, died Friday of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he lived for the last 21 years with his wife, Joanna Robinson, a freelance editor.

Born Bruce Duncan Phillips on May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of labor organizers. Whether through this early influence or an early life that was not always tranquil or easy, by his twenties Phillips demonstrated a lifelong concern with the living conditions of working people. He was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as "the Wobblies," an organizational artifact of early twentieth-century labor struggles that has seen renewed interest and growth in membership in the last decade, not in small part due to his efforts to popularize it.

Phillips served as an Army private during the Korean War, an experience he would later refer to as the turning point of his life. Deeply affected by the devastation and human misery he had witnessed, upon his return to the United States he began drifting, riding freight trains around the country. His struggle would be familiar today, when the difficulties of returning combat veterans are more widely understood, but in the late fifties Phillips was left to work them out for himself. Destitute and drinking, Phillips got off a freight train in Salt Lake City and wound up at the Joe Hill House, a homeless shelter operated by the anarchist Ammon Hennacy, a member of the Catholic Worker movement and associate of Dorothy Day.

Phillips credited Hennacy and other social reformers he referred to as his "elders" with having provided a philosophical framework around which he later constructed songs and stories he intended as a template his audiences could employ to understand their own political and working lives. They were often hilarious, sometimes sad, but never shallow.

"He made me understand that music must be more than cotton candy for the ears," said John McCutcheon, a nationally-known folksinger and close friend. In the creation of his performing persona and work, Phillips drew from influences as diverse as Borscht Belt comedian Myron Cohen, folksingers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and Country stars Hank Williams and T. Texas Tyler.

A stint as an archivist for the State of Utah in the 1960s taught Phillips the discipline of historical research; beneath the simplest and most folksy of his songs was a rigorous attention to detail and a strong and carefully-crafted narrative structure. He was a voracious reader in a surprising variety of fields. Meanwhile, Phillips was working at Hennacy's Joe Hill house. In 1968 he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The race was won by a Republican candidate, and Phillips was seen by some Democrats as having split the vote. He subsequently lost his job with the State of Utah, a process he described as "blacklisting."

Phillips left Utah for Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was welcomed into a lively community of folk performers centered at the Caffé Lena, operated by Lena Spencer. "It was the coffeehouse, the place to perform. Everybody went there. She fed everybody," said John "Che" Greenwood, a fellow performer and friend. Over the span of the nearly four decades that followed, Phillips worked in what he referred to as "the Trade," developing an audience of hundreds of thousands and performing in large and small cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. His performing partners included Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, John McCutcheon and Ani DiFranco.

"He was like an alchemist," said Sorrels, "He took the stories of working people and railroad bums and he built them into work that was influenced by writers like Thomas Wolfe, but then he gave it back, he put it in language so the people whom the songs and stories were about still had them, still owned them. He didn't believe in stealing culture from the people it was about."

A single from Phillips's first record, "Moose Turd Pie," a rollicking story about working on a railroad track gang, saw extensive airplay in 1973. From then on, Phillips had work on the road. His extensive writing and recording career included two albums with Ani DiFranco which earned a Grammy nomination. Phillips's songs were performed and recorded by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Joe Ely and others. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Folk Alliance in 1997.

Phillips, something of a perfectionist, claimed that he never lost his stage fright before performances. He didn't want to lose it, he said; it kept him improving. Phillips began suffering from the effects of chronic heart disease in 2004, and as his illness kept him off the road at times, he started a nationally syndicated folk-music radio show, "Loafer's Glory," produced at KVMR-FM and started a homeless shelter in his rural home county, where down-on-their-luck men and women were sleeping under the manzanita brush at the edge of town. Hospitality House opened in 2005 and continues to house 25 to 30 guests a night. In this way, Phillips returned to the work of his mentor Hennacy in the last four years of his life.

Phillips died at home, in bed, in his sleep, next to his wife. He is survived by his son Duncan and daughter-in-law Bobette of Salt Lake City, son Brendan of Olympia, Washington; daughter Morrigan Belle of Washington, D.C.; stepson Nicholas Tomb of Monterrey, California; stepson and daughter-in-law Ian Durfee and Mary Creasey of Davis, California; brothers David Phillips of Fairfield, California, Ed Phillips of Cleveland, Ohio and Stuart Cohen of Los Angeles; sister Deborah Cohen of Lisbon, Portugal; and a grandchild, Brendan. He was preceded in death by his father Edwin Phillips and mother Kathleen, and his stepfather, Syd Cohen.

The family requests memorial donations to Hospitality House, P.O. Box 3223, Grass Valley, California 95945 (530) 271-7144 www.hospitalityhouseshelter.org

Jordan Fisher Smith and Molly Fisk

Molly Fisk, 530.277.4686 molly@mollyfisk.com Jordan Fisher Smith 530.277.3087 jordanfs@gv.net

Word document here: http://www.utahphillips.org/utahphillipsdeadat73.doc PDF version: http://www.utahphillips.org/utahphillipsdeadat73.pdf
http://www.utahphillips.org


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 May 08 - 11:13 PM

And, here's a nice write up from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Folk singer Utah Phillips dies in California
Nate Carlisle and Lindsay Whitehurst
Article Last Updated: 05/24/2008 09:04:54 PM MDT

Posted: 8:15 PM- Folk singer and activist Bruce "Utah" Phillips, whose songs included tales of the state's working class and tragedies, died Friday of congestive heart failure.
    Phillips, 73, died in Nevada City, Calif., where he resided. While not among the biggest names in folk music, Phillips described himself as the "Golden Voice of the Great Southwest" and was an influence for artists such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Tom Waits, who have recorded his songs. An album Phillips recorded with Ani DiFranco received a Grammy nomination.
    "Many artists extract from working and poor people for authenticity," friend and environmental writer Jordan Fisher Smith said. "He also gave it back ... he extracted the meaning and gave it back to the people experiencing it."
    Phillips songs included "John D. Lee," a recounting of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Another song, "Scofield Mine Disaster" recalled the 1900 central Utah coal mine explosion that killed 200 people.
    "A miner's life is hard I know," Phillips wrote and sang. "His world is dark and far below/While he starves and goes in rags/He's cheaper than the coal he digs."
    Phillips son, Duncan Phillips, who lives in Salt Lake City, said his father was enthralled with Utah's working class, particularly Mormons and their folklore.
   
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"They were kind of put aside and chased off like a lot of other people in the world are," Duncan Phillips said. "He tried to look at both sides of things and understand people and bring some common ground."
    Born May 15, 1935, in Cleveland to labor organizer parents, Bruce Phillips and his family came to Utah in 1947. His parents became distributors for Paramount movie studio and owned the Capitol Theatre and Tower Theatre until their deaths, Duncan Phillips said.
    Bruce Phillips served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Disturbed by the fighting, Bruce Phillips returned to the states and was drinking and "bumming" on freight trains when he ended up in the Joe Hill House, a Salt Lake City homeless shelter named for a labor organizer.
    He went on to work as an archivist for the state, where he learned much of Utah's history.
    Ken Sanders, owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City, met Phillips in the 1960s.
    "He was always working on the rights of others," he said. "He spent an awful lot of his life bumming around the country, spent a little of his life as a hobo. He was never in one city for a long time."
    Bruce Phillips left Salt Lake City in 1969, believing that a failed run for the U.S. Senate with the Peace and Freedom party left him blacklisted.
    "He tried to get work and everywhere turned him down," Duncan Phillips said.
    A short time later, he released his first album. After years of touring, Bruce Phillips settled in Nevada City, Calif., with his fourth wife Joanna Robinson.
    He used his music and notoriety to remain an activist. In 2005, he told The Tribune, "When I go play a town I haven't been to in a while, I want them to send me the newspaper so I can get caught up on the local issues. Then I go to the library and read up on the history and economic base and economic distribution so I know the right questions to ask."
    Phillips played in Utah as recently as January 2007 at a folk revival at Highland High School.
    Phillips' other survivors include another son and a daughter, several stepchildren, brothers and sisters and a grandchild. The family requests memorial donations go to Hospitality House, a homeless shelter founded by Phillips in Grass Valley, Calif. Additional information is available at www.hospitalityhouseshelter.org.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Padre
Date: 25 May 08 - 12:12 AM

May he rest in peace.

Padre


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: astro
Date: 25 May 08 - 12:57 AM

Just as a note, we saw Utah last June/July at the Kate Wolf Festival in Laytonville, Ca. He performed not only on the main stage, but we had a great time watching him with Joe Craven. It was wonderful to hear the tales...his wrestling story and song was one that we will remember.

I remember during the festival watching him walk the grounds of the festival talking to many, especially young people. It was wonderful to see that.

It was always wonderful to see Rosalie and him singing together. Quite a pair. We'll miss seeing him next time there.

Astro and Desert Dancer


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Genie
Date: 25 May 08 - 01:43 AM

Like Mary, I was sort of expecting this, but not so soon.   I didn't have the privilege of knowing Utah, though was able to hear him at Folklife a few years ago "up close." What a loss to the music and folk world.

Yes, another fine addition to the angel band that Rick Fielding's singing with. I'm sure they're making wonderful music, but I miss them here.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 25 May 08 - 01:58 AM

My musical partner, Sandy Andina, and I were in the midle of a gig in Chelsea, MI this evening when we got the news of Utah's death. We have always closed our shows with his tune, "Hymn Song". We almost didn't get through it. The world will never be the same

Stephen Lee Rich


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: elfcape
Date: 25 May 08 - 07:31 AM

Goodnight, silly sweet man. My you turn heaven upside down and rearrange the peaces with your shaggy dog stories and strong sense of what's really right.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 25 May 08 - 08:40 AM

elfcape, well said.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 25 May 08 - 08:59 AM

Having come late to learning about Utah and his work, stories and music, I can see I have a lot of work to do. My thanks to those of you here who brought him to my/our attention, who otherwise might not have crossed paths.

And, hugs and love to those of you for whom the loss is personal and deep. His good work and inspiration is clear in your love and tributes.

Am working on getting a copy of Starlight On The Rails, and hope to be singing some of those songs soon!

Dani


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,kiyohide kunizaki
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:07 AM

from tokyo

- his deepest heart singing
- forever u. phillips

travel your ghost to japan

kiyohide


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: topical tom
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:15 AM

Utah, you gave us so many laughs with your magnificent story-telling and your beautiful, moving songs.Thank God I saw you live as often as possible.Rest in peace. God be with you.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Ron Davies
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:25 AM

Another giant on the earth gone, and already sorely missed. A great songwriter, setting the standard in singing his own songs, a great raconteur--and a larger than life, wonderful man.

As others have already noted, we are so lucky to have his songs--which have already made him immortal.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Texas Guest
Date: 25 May 08 - 12:39 PM

Rest in peace Mr. Phillips.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: EBarnacle
Date: 25 May 08 - 01:31 PM

We owe him a lot and can best pay it back by passing all of his legacy along to others.
His measure is the difference he made.
EBarnacle and Lady Hillary


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 25 May 08 - 06:14 PM

I wish I could undeestand wght the gweat spirit has in mind when he takes a nman like Utah and leaves Geotge Bush,
The scotcth doesn't help at all.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Barbara
Date: 25 May 08 - 09:42 PM

Well, shit, I'm sorry to hear this.
Go on and sing up there with the rest of my friends that died too soon.
I miss you all.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,George Mann
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:29 PM

With such sadness, I typethese words. Utah was such a great person, such a dear and interested friend to everyone... so many hearts are sad this weekend.

But I ask folks to go to www.utahphillips.org and on Duncan's blog, you can read Utah'slast note, posted right around his birthday, just 10 days ago.

I read that letter twice and I hope you will too. I just want to say that what I took away from that letter was that Utah was ready to go. It was so clear to me at the time that I called and left a message the next day-- telling the answering machine what deep love I had for him, how his work and presence had made such a big difference in my own life and work, and how I hoped to hear his voice again soon.

I think it's important to remember that once this community took over and made sure he and Joanna would not want for money, once he saw the love and togetherness he had inspired, it would have been hard for him to do more... and that is the mark of a complete life. Maybe we were not ready for him to go, but if ever a person deserved to die peacefully in his sleep, it was Bruce.

He rests and we will continue his work. Peace, George


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:50 PM

Kendall: If there is a great spirit, it would want a man like Utah. It would not want a man like George Bush.

And if it there is a great spirit, it helped bring Utah to you and everyone else.

Whenever someone this powerful dies, that energy is redistributed among so many people, including you, Kendall.

Good night and peaceful dreams I hope await, George


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 May 08 - 10:56 PM

I have a number of emails and phone messages from performers and friends tonight. While checking the voicemails, I realized I had two from Utah. To hear his voice and hear his words made me feel sad and happy at the same time. He was so grateful that people cared about him. I had pointed out to him that the old saw that says, "As you sow, so shall you reap" was exactly why so many people cared him. I remember his reaction as I told him that I literally could have planned a folk festival with the number of performers that wanted to take part in the two benefits on his behalf. He was so humble and wanted to thank them all.

His agent, Jim Fleming, who has done journeyman's work in helping me with the planning of the two benefits for Utah, sent me an email. I loved what he said in part of the email:

When Joanna called to tell me that Utah had died, in his sleep, I was somewhat comforted to know that perhaps he drifted from a dream state to whatever comes next. If I had to guess, I'd guess he was dreaming of a train.
Yeah.... I like that (Mick's comment)


Hmmmmmm........ A Utah Phillips Peace and Labor Folk Festival...... every year in his honor..... I might have to work on this.

I don't think I will be deleting those voicemail messages anytime soon.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Art Thieme
Date: 25 May 08 - 11:40 PM

Friends, I have said it all in so many threads. This man --- this man. He set the bar--the standard.---Having him gone --- it just cannot, will not, sink in for me. Right now, tonight, I'm thinking of Walt Whitman:


"I depart as air
I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love
If you want me again
Look under you boot souls
You'll hardly know who I am or what I mean
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless
And filter and fiber your blood.
Failing to fetch me at first
Keep encouraged.
Missing me one place,
Search another.
I stop somewhere ---
Waiting for you."

Walt Whitman


(Art Thieme)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: BK Lick
Date: 26 May 08 - 12:27 AM

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags
I bequeath myself...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: georgeward
Date: 26 May 08 - 04:10 AM

And ever and anon those songs and stories will take people who will have no idea who he was where he wanted them to go. Small consolation right now, but what a legacy.

Damn.

- George


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 26 May 08 - 08:19 AM

"I tell you my friends it's not where you are, but your reason for being there."

In what song is this line to be found?

Sheila


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 May 08 - 08:39 AM

I was the first of several to use that song here and to me it has always been one of his very best.......and no one ever did it better than our own Kendall Morse, something Utah said himself.

Below is a bit of the history of the song from Utah:


From Utah Phillips:

I was in Chicago, standing outside of an empty yard, and had to get to Bloomington, Illinois. I saw those beautiful Gulf, Mobile and Ohio freight trains made up and ready to head south, with the red and maroon GMO boxcars with the gold stripe around them. A train like that is irresistible to me. I figured it was probably going to St. Louis to be rehumped and a lot of the cars sent west because it was hauling a lot of Burlington, Denver Rio Grande, Santa Fe, and a few Union Pacific.
The car I got was an old Phoebe Snow boxcar from the Erie Lackawanna in Pennsylvania. At the time the name Phoebe Snow conjured up the face and form of anybody I'd ever been in love with, so I made up this song for want of anything better to do. Then I crossed the state and sang the song first in the big jungle camp in Danville. It wasn't until I got back to Chicago that Richard Marko, a Chicago performer, told me who Phoebe Snow really was.
The Erie Lackawanna was the first line to use anthracite coal, which meant that their trains were soot free. You could ride their passenger runs without getting a lot of soot in your clothing. To advertise that fact they used a cartoon character, a beautiful woman all dressed in white, long white gloves, white hat, white purse. She would be talking to somebody across the aisle about how clean it was to ride the Route of the Anthracite. Her name was Phoebe Snow.
She was famous all over the country for many years. About 1963 the Erie Lackawanna discontinued their passenger runs and took Phoebe Snow off. But you can still find some of those old Phoebe Snow boxcars if you look around a yard.

LYRICS-----PHOEBE SNOW, Utah Phillips

I saw her name on the side of a train
Somewhere a long time ago;
I don't know who she was, but I gave my love
To someone called Phoebe Snow
Like a bird on the wing I hear a voice sing
As over the prairies I roll
Well I'd give my life to spend one more night
In the arms of my own Phoebe Snow.


I climbed on board through a wide open door
Just as she started to roll,
And I rode so light through the long summer night
In the arms of my own Phoebe Snow.
(chorus)

(spoken)
Many a night I've sat by the fire
In a circle of stone silent men,
And heard the sagebrush whistle and pop
And the coffee boil in the can.

The bottoms were filled with a cool river wind
And the treetops chasing the moon
And I knew without saying to take my guitar
And play up some slow gentle tune.

I played up a face I knew long ago
And the song was the sound of a name,
I knew without looking that every man there
Was each of them doing the same.

Then I played up some hands so pale and small
With a touch as light as the rain,
And I knew without looking that every man there
Was each of 'em feeling the same.

Then I played up the booze and the holes in the shoes
Of a man whose life is a cage,
And all the things done to make a man run,
The hard luck and failures of age -
Then I stopped with a crash - we looked into the ash,
Helpless with longing and rage.

Now a traveling life might seem all right,
A life without worry or care;
Always up and always out and always going somewhere,
But I'll tell you, friend-it's not where you are
But your reason for being there.

(sung)
And then I awoke as the day broke,
And gazed out over the plain,
Thinking as how I'm better off now
Being in love with a train.
(chorus)

Copyright ©1973, 2000 Bruce Phillips



Spaw


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Bob Hitchcock
Date: 26 May 08 - 09:07 AM

I am deeply saddend to hear of Utah's passing. We should all remember him by singing his songs whenever and wherever we can.

Bob.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 26 May 08 - 09:33 AM

Thank you, Spaw. He was a truly beautiful and special kind of poet.

Sheila


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 May 08 - 11:09 AM

Starlight on the Rails

I, can hear that whistle calling,
High and lonesome as can be;
Outside, the rain is softly falling;
To-night, it's falling just for me

Chorus:

Looking back, a-long this road I've traveled;
The miles could tell a million tales;
Each year, is like some rolling freight train,
And cold as starlight on the rails.


We'll miss the man but his songs and stories will go on.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 May 08 - 11:53 AM

If anybody is reading this right now, you can use your computer to stream KVMR right now, they are doing a tribute to Utah. Tonight at 6PM PDT they will play the recording of the 70th birthday show that was broadcast in 2005.

www.kvmr.org

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Jeri
Date: 26 May 08 - 01:17 PM

Thanks Mark. Listened to a bunch of it and heard callers, John McCutcheon and Michael Moore among those who called in to say how Utah had touched their lives.

The man left some huge footprints behind.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Art Thieme
Date: 26 May 08 - 02:27 PM

Good peo;le, I don't know if it came from Utah or not, but a quip going around for a few years stated that the railroad called the ERIE LACKAWANNA was known to the hobos as the "Strange Absense Of Desire Railroad!!" Think about it a minute. It's funny!!!

If that wasn't Bruce Phillips, it is his now! He told me once, "Art, that's folklore for ya; If you don't know it, make it up!

Art


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 May 08 - 04:30 PM

Listening to some great clips of his 4CD set Starlight on the Rails. I'll finally be ordering my copy on payday next Friday.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Def Shepard
Date: 26 May 08 - 05:02 PM

My daughter and I played at a small private gathering this past weekend, we finished our first set with Bruce's "Hymn Song", and our second set we were joined by a friend and finished with Vince Gill's Go Rest High On That Mountain

Bruce, thanks for all of it, raise a little hell up there for us all :-)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 26 May 08 - 05:15 PM

I tried to call KVMR but couldn't get through.
Maybe I can get the memorial service tonight.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 26 May 08 - 05:56 PM

Hear him sing it--Starlight on the Rails. It is so alive it is as if Iwere hearing it from just over the Great Divide.


A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 May 08 - 06:27 PM

Kendall,

I couldn't get through either, but I've on their air 2 or 3 times in the last week. Hope you saved me some scotch.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 May 08 - 06:45 PM

I played an hour of Utah on my show yesteday. I also played Kendall's recording of "Ashes on the Sea". Beautiful recording of a beautiful song. It was a very difficult hour to get through, but one of the notions that got to me was hearing Utah talk about "passing it on". He certainly planted the spirit in so many people.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: BK Lick
Date: 26 May 08 - 07:21 PM

Derk Richardson in SF Examiner on Saturday
Scott Alarik's 1999 piece in the Boston Globe [Scroll down past the "I must be a dog - Every year Bush is in office feels like 7 to me" sticker]
David Rovics on Wobblies web site
Utah on collaborating with Ani DeFranco


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 26 May 08 - 07:27 PM

Thanks Ron, that was so good to read.
Mark, If I run out of scotch, I know where there is a huge stash!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Mark Ross
Date: 26 May 08 - 07:33 PM

This just got posted today.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1653616551680713368&hl=en


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 26 May 08 - 11:19 PM

Like virtually everyone in the folk music community, I've been deeply saddened by the death of my old friend, Bruce Phillips: U. Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest.

Like everyone else, I have wonderful memories of Utah Phillips on stage. I presented him on stage at least 15, if not 20, times. And like many others, I have some personal memories of a long friendship.

I first met Bruce back in the summer of 1971 when he spent some time in Montreal working as MC of an extended Folklife program being presented by the Smithsonian Institution at the American Pavilion, at Man & His World (which ran for several years on the Expo '67 site). Even though I was just 17, a long friendship began.

In 1972, as a student at Dawson College in Montreal, I founded a folk music concert series and, of course, wanted Bruce to play it. I made some phone calls and tracked him down in San Francisco and asked him to come and play. At that moment, he was with Malvina Reynolds and suggested that he and Malvina would make for a good concert combination. Well, he didn't have to convince me and the concert with Malvina, in the spring of '73, remains a vivid and wonderful memory.

Over the 1970s and '80s, I produced a lot of concerts with Bruce. A few were in concert halls, but most were at the Golem, the Montreal folk club that I ran for a long time. He came to Montreal once or twice a year, often for several days at a time, and I'd spend many hours with him exploring parts of the city I'd probably have never gone to, and talking to people I'd
probably never have met, on my own. One time we were in Mendelsohn's, a junk shop in the skid row area. The old man behind the counter was giving Bruce a load of BS about a deck of cards that he was trying to sell him for $10. Bruce bought the deck of cards.

Walking out of the store, I asked Bruce why he let the guy con him out of $10 for a used deck of cards when he could have bought a new deck for a buck or less. "I got the cards for free," Bruce told me. "I paid $10 for the show – and for all the years he put into developing the show."

I was once given the hat Bob Dylan wore on the cover of Nashville Skyline. It came to me from the late Tex König, a folksinger friend who was friendly with Dylan in the early Greenwich Village years. Tex had it from someone who had it from Dylan.

That hat was a prized possession for awhile. Until Bruce Phillips conned me out of it by convincing me he was starting a folk music museum in Spokane, where he was then living, and that he "needed" the hat for the museum. I kind of knew there was no museum, but, hey, it was Bruce Phillips and he really wanted the hat. Who was I to say 'no'?

A couple of years later he told me that he'd given the hat to Ed Holstein in Chicago. I was in Chicago a couple few years after that and tried, without any luck, to get Eddie to give the hat back to me. That was more than 20 years ago.

The old Philo recording studio in North Ferrisburg, VT, where Bruce had an old caboose, was just a two-hour drive from Montreal and I was part of the crowd that hung out there in the '70s. We had a lot of good times there back in the day, and also over in Saratoga at Lena's, and at the Executive bar next door, at a ton of festivals in Canada and the Northeast. In 1976, I
spent a week on the road with Bruce driving him around to gigs in New England. It was when he was running for president on the Sloth & Indolence ticket.

The last chance I had to spend some time with Bruce was in 2005 at the Champlain Valley Folk Festival, in Ferrisburg, just a few miles from the old Philo studio. Despite a busy festival schedule for both of us, we had a chance to visit, share a meal, and do a radio interview. I hosted an annual songwriter's panel at Champlain Valley from 2000-2006 and Bruce was one of
the participants that year. There's a picture of the panel and another of just me and Bruce in my Myspace and Facebook galleries.

My Folk Roots/Folk Branches feature segment to air this week on CKUT during Folk Directions was already recorded before Bruce passed away. My next Folk Roots/Folk Branches feature, scheduled for June 12, will be a tribute to Bruce.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 May 08 - 11:35 PM

Those links and everyone's memories are really great. It helps those of us who didn't get to meet him, know more about what a special person he was. I liked this from one of the links:

Well, when I stop getting old, I'll be dead, so I like getting old.

What great way to look at things. Wish he was still getting old...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:05 AM

Thanks for all of the links and memories.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: open mike
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:19 AM

The news came to us at the Strawberry Music Festival, where he had often attended and shared with us stories, songs and wisdom. The festival radio station broadcast a memory-filled afternoon on sunday
with Moose Turd Pie and other glorious offerings from U.Utah.

Many people from the festival offered up their memories of him and
most were filled with iomages of being inspired by him.

In the night time song circles, we sang many train songs, and others including Goodnight Loving Trail...."It's a wonder the wind don't tear off you skin...." what a line!!

Oh, the green , rolling hills of West Virginia....

Expect to hear more from www.kvmr.org as they plan a memorial broadcast soon. (probably on Sunday) Blessings to Joanna and all the others who are missing him tonight.

When he performed in Chico, CA, a couple of years ago, he was encouraging us in the Folk Music Society to include many organizations in our area to benefit from the event: the hungry, the homeless, the
peace and justice center, and to build a network with every like-minded person and group in our area.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 May 08 - 01:52 AM

Bruce once introduced me at the Earl Of Old Town in Chicago as, "The man who did for folk music what pantyhose did for sex."

Art


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 May 08 - 02:02 AM

Also, in th mid-1980s I asked him to make a cassette recording that'd be our phone machine message!? Well, he sent it.

"Hello---This is Utah Phillips. I'm living with Art's wife, Carol, now! Leave a message and I'll be sure to give it to him."

If you know Carol, there is absolutely no way she'd allow that as our phone machine message. I was pretty pissed off 'cause I loved it; but it never got used.

Art


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: evansakes
Date: 27 May 08 - 03:49 AM

Martyn Joseph has written of his memories of Utah in his blog

here


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:13 AM

Here's the obituary from the Sacramento Bee:

    Singer Utah Phillips left a colorful legacy
    If your wages were low and your hands calloused, his songs – and his heart – were all yours.


    By Stephen Magagnini - smagagnini@sacbee.com
    Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Folk singer, anarchist, social reformer and man of the people Bruce "Utah" Phillips died in his Nevada City home Friday night of congestive heart failure.

    Phillips, 73, was beloved on two continents for his big heart, along with his wit, wisdom, wild, white beard and willingness to stand tall for his beliefs.

    He ran for president but never voted. Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Tom Waits and his friend Arlo Guthrie all sing Utah Phillips songs, but he refused to let Johnny Cash make an album of his standards, his eldest son said, because he didn't trust the record industry.

    Phillips, a onetime hobo and railroad tramp, reached out to the homeless in Nevada County in 2005, when he and his wife, Joanna Robinson, created a rotating homeless shelter at area churches.

    "They're housing 25 to 30 people every night," said longtime friend Jordan Fisher Smith. "Instead of asking the government to do it, they solicited the help of their friends and neighbors and local churches and just created services for these people that weren't there.

    "Bruce at his core was an anarchist," said Smith, who befriended him 20 years ago when he moved to Nevada City. "The name 'Utah' stuck because he'd lived in Utah, riding freights in the West."

    In "All Used Up," Phillips sings of a boss who "used up my labor, he used up my time, he plundered my body and squandered my mind. Then he gave me a pension, some handouts and wine,

    And told me I'm all used up...

    "They use up the oil, they use up the trees

    They use up the air and they use up the seas

    But as long as I'm breathing they won't use up me

    Don't tell me I'm all used up."

    The son of labor organizers, Phillips was a lifelong member of the Industrial Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, Smith said.

    He served in the Korean War, then came home devastated by the misery he'd seen and began drinking and drifting.

    In the late '50s, broke and broken-hearted, Phillips rolled into Salt Lake City on a freight train and ended up at the Joe Hill House, a homeless shelter run by anarchist Ammon Hennacy.

    He helped out at Joe Hill House and became a pacifist and a performer influenced by folk legends Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, country stars Hank Williams, T. Texas Tyler, comic Myron Cohen and novelist Thomas Wolfe, Smith said.

    Phillips ran for U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Ticket in 1968 and lost, then left Utah for Saratoga Springs and became a fixture at the Caffe Lena.

    After his first record, "Moose Turd Pie," about laying track for the Sante Fe railroad, hit the airwaves in 1973, Phillips hit the road.

    He toured North America and Europe, and was the first – and last – performer at the iconic barn and roadhouse in Davis, the Palms Playhouse, which closed in 2002 and was reborn in Winters.

    About that time, Phillips began his struggle with chronic heart disease but never lost his wit or passion for social justice.

    At the Strawberry Music Festival last spring, Phillips mesmerized the crowd using "a guitar handed down by my grandfather – unfortunately he was still on the ladder when the cops came."

    His oldest son, Duncan Phillips of Salt Lake City, who reunited with him 15 years ago, said, "He was truly a man of the people – he represented the working class, the working poor, the homeless, he was part of them.

    "He spoke for them in many ways, through song and activism. He's probably the most principled person I'd ever met – he would stick to what he believed in no matter what, and he'd sacrifice for it."

    Duncan Phillips recalled the day Johnny Cash called "and wanted to record his songs, and my dad wouldn't let Johnny do it because he didn't like what the record industry stood for."

    Mr. Phillips' own label was called "No Guff."

    He ran for president in 1976 as an anarchist with a do-nothing platform, and told Bee reporter Blair Anthony Robertson, "I guarantee that if I took over the White House I would not do anything. I would scratch my butt and shoot pool."

    Mr. Phillips, for all his activism, "never voted," his son said. "He said he cast a vote every day he went out in the world and did something. If you want to make change, go out and actually do it yourself. He didn't need to hand over any responsibility to politicians who aren't beholden to the working class."

    Duncan Phillips said he'll never forget all the people who would come up to his dad in the lobby before the shows "and say he'd changed their lives."

    Phillips, who declined a heart transplant earlier this year, died in bed with his wife around 11:30 p.m.

    "You would never know his problems by talking to him," he son said.

    "He was a very engaging, very upbeat, very happy person. He was like that when I last talked to him."


All Used Up (click) - lyrics in the Digital Tradition.

Utah Phillips live performance of "All Used Up": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4M2ABPpp1vY


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:02 PM

I know of Utah Phillips only by recorded music and reputation. He was "old school," as they say; an activist and seeker of social justice in the tradition of the 1930's, but very much a contemporary man. I have a tune running through my head - Tom Paxton's "Last Hobo." "...The last hobo, ridin' the last boxcar, on the last freight train - leavin' here." I imagine he will be stirring the pot in the Celestial Kingdom, as I write this.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Franz S.
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:59 PM

To my mind one of his greatest monuments---no, there must be a better word---works---was the Loafer's Glory programs. They were and are great entertainment, but more important they were an amazing education. After every program I would go off to the library with a list of things I wanted to know more about. Later I could go to the Internet for more information.    They are worth more than any college course I ever took.

And, as did his songs and performances, the songs, rants, poems, stories he presented moved us listeners to deep feelings and social and political action.

I hope some way can be found to make use of the archived programs, both to aid his widow and to spread the word.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 27 May 08 - 02:34 PM

What to say...This is a sad one. Rest in Peace Bruce.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:06 PM

Received from my friend, Len Wallace, who performed at the benefit for Utah at The Ark in Ann Arbor on May 14, 2008:

The Things I Learned From Utah Phillips


from Len Wallace


I am still stunned by the news of Utah's passing and figuring out ways on how to respond to this loss. So I thought I'd take pen in hand and jot down some of things Utah taught me over the years. Here they are transferred to computer.

1. Utah was correct. Computers suck. They rob you of the ability to write and read.

2. Mean people suck. Nice people can suck too sometimes.

3. Bertold Brecht had the right idea when he said that the barrier between the performer and audience must be abolished.

4. When you're performing with other musicians adjust your microphone stands at an angle where you can see both the audience and the other performer. You want to work off that other performer, see them perform and look them in the face, see their movements and hands. It's not all in the listening.

5. You can drink out of your hat if you must, but only by necessity.

6. The past and remembering the past is a very subversive thing. It points to the not now. The powers that be want us to think that the way things are are the way they have always been and always will be.

7. Be careful of the garp you put in your brain from reading newspapers, listening to radio and watching TV. If you stuff your brain with garbage then garbage will come out.

8. You can teach an old dog new tricks but the old tricks are still the best.

9. Old age and treachery will always overcome youth and passion.

10. You too can be a part of the hidden agenda.

11. You can reinvent yourself as often as you like. You still are who you are and can be what you want to be.

12. Direct action does get the goods. Not only that, it forces us to be creative and have some fun.

13. You don't know where you're going unless you know where you come from.

14. Never empty your pockets on stage in the middle of a performance. Embarrassing things can pop out.

15. You don't need to reinvent the wheel in order to change the world. Our elders gave us a lot of good wheels we can still use.

16. We gotta wise up.

17. The revolution will happen and it will be humorous.

18. Don't put yourself or your music down. There are enough idiots around who will do that for you.

19. Be careful singing your heart out and devoting yourself for the cause because the organisations behind it can break your heart.

20. Repackage yourself in a way that sells. Then, when they hire you, sing what you want.

21. We are artists and we must hone our craft.

22. Men should wear hats. Baseball hats worn backwards and sideways do not cnnstitute hat wearing or any fashion statement. If you don't have a Stetson then a Borsalino fedora will do.

23. Most people don't know the difference between a spad and a gat.

23. Otter water truly is a delicacy.

25. Good stories should be based on objective reality but should never be hampered by the facts.

26. We can build a fundamentally better world.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:34 PM

Some years ago, Utah called me, and he was having a hard time. Among other things, he said "Oh well, it's better to write one Kendall than to curse the dark".

He dearly loved to lead you down the primrose path, and then when you were hooked, he would say something that let you know you were had and dealing with a master.
That show we did in Grass Valley CA. on April 8 2006 was just great. He even got to me with a wild story, and he was so pleased with himself he was giggling like a kid. He exclaimed, "I have just reached the "Pinnocle" of my career! I put one over on Kendall Morse.
Anyone who has a copy of the DVD we made knows what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Pistachio
Date: 27 May 08 - 06:40 PM

What wonderful tributes - condolences to his Family and all who miss this remarkable human being. H.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:42 PM

A true legend. I'm sure the very mountains mourned as he left the Earth.

Heartfelt condolences to all his family and friends.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:22 AM

Utah lived a true life. He told the truth and lived by it. His truth was in the songs he wrote and the stories he told, in the the way he lived his life and in the people he helped along the way. His wasn't the smile for the camera and then tell it a different way later kind of truth - it was the honest, get your hands dirty, look a person in the eye and let them know the facts type of truth. He could weave a great tall tale and lead you on with laughter and a wicked light in his eyes but in the end it all boiled down to truth. We were lucky to have him around.

Take care my friends,

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: astro
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:29 AM

Kendall,

We have your DVD and do really appreciate it, only wish we could have been there to see it live...thanks for the pleasure...

astro....


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Joybell
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:40 AM

I only knew of him from afar. I found one of his records back in the 70s. Played it so much I almost wore it out. I'm so very sad too. I felt close to him even though I never met him.
My thoughts to those of you who knew and loved him.
Joy


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Fortunato
Date: 28 May 08 - 10:37 AM

Dear Dad, A Note From Utah. Here's one of the last things he
wrote. And I thought it a pretty fitting goodbye that
shows his character and where he was at even near the
end. Matt (my son)

Dear Friends,

Utah here, with a rambling missive pandect and organon
regarding my current reality. At no time should you
suspect me of complaining (kvetching); I am simply
grepsing (Yiddish word for describing the condition of
that reality).

First, medical: My heart, which is enlarged and very
weak, can't pump enough blood to keep my body plunging
forward at its usual 100 percent. It allows me about
25 to 30 percent, which means I don't get around very
much or very easily anymore. I'm sustained (i.e., kept
alive) by a medication called Milrinone, which is
contained in a pump that I carry around with me in a
shoulder bag. The pump, which runs 24 hours a day,
moves the medication through a long tube running into
an implanted Groshong catheter that in turn runs
directly into my heart. I'll be keeping this pump for
the rest of my life. I also take an extraordinary
number of oral medications, of which many are
electrolytes.

My body is weak but my will is strong, and I keep my
disposition as sunny and humorous as I'm able. It's
hard enough being disabled without being cranky as
well. Though I'm eating well, my weight has gone from
175 to 155 pounds. I look like a geriatric Fred
Astaire.

We manage to get out a good bit, visiting the Ananda
(a local spiritual village and retreat center) flower
garden up on the San Juan Ridge and occasionally going
to lunch at various places around town. The bag is
always with me. Believe me, none of this would be
possible without my wife Joanna. She has the deepest,
most loving and caring heart one could ever imagine.
She's taken charge of all my medications and makes
sure that I'm well fed and don't fall into the
slovenly ways of a derelict. She also has enormous
physical beauty—I have never seen a more beautiful
woman in my life. She is endowed with intelligence,
deep insight, compassion, and a capacity for love that
passes all understanding.

Heart disease aside, I find that I have a hernia that
needs to be repaired. Someday I suppose I'll become
like Ernie Bierwagen, the old man who owned the
orchards outside town. He said to me once, "I know
that God wants me to say something, because the only
thing I have left that works is my mouth." But for
now, I'm enjoying my life and can think of no good
reason not to. Joanna and I both know that the
chemical regimen I'm on can't go on indefinitely. We
take things a day at a time, deriving joy and solace
from a solid, loving relationship.

I want to share with you something about where we
live. If you're reading this on the Internet, I've
sent Duncan some photos to show you what it looks
like. Our house is on a country lane right off Red Dog
Road, about a mile from downtown Nevada City. Nevada
City is an old gold-mining town in the Sierra
foothills with a population of about 2,800. The old
buildings are all still here, including the National
Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in the West that's
still doing business. The town is a quirky, mystical
sort of place, populated by poets, writers, artists,
misfits, and just regular folks. When you drive down
Berggren Lane where we live, you come to a brown house
with green trim, lap-strake siding, a steel roof, and
a high green fence around the front. The steel roof is
there because we live in an ancient oak and cedar
grove, which includes in the front yard a couple of
towering poplar trees. Sometimes the wind coming down
from the high Sierra breaks off tree limbs, and if it
weren't for the steel roof, we could well be eating
our salad by the roots.

When we first moved in here, the house was tiny. Using
her remarkable ingenuity and the prodigious skills of
our friend Steven Goodfield, a fine independent
carpenter, Joanna has added a hallway and two rooms
going up the hill, which gives us a bedroom and
bathroom, and me a study. The French doors in our
bedroom open out onto a dappled hillside with
hawthorns, cedars, pines, wild cherries, and oaks. The
lot itself is quite narrow, the result of a bad survey
many years ago. The old part of the house was built in
1912. When we bought it, there was a greenhouse along
the southern wall. It was rotting out, so we replaced
it with a new, insulated and thermo paned greenhouse
so that we could remove the interior wall and make it
almost part of the living room. Our house is a
beautiful, comfortable place to live, absolutely
surrounded by greenery.

Looking out the greenhouse windows now, I can see the
huge poplars in front, already in full leaf. The front
yard is Joanna's flower garden, a great splash of
color amid the green. As I look over my shoulder out
the greenhouse door, which is also the front door to
the house, I can see the hawthorn trees covered with
cascades of white blossoms, as though their limbs were
burdened with new snow. There's a brick patio just
outside the greenhouse with a fireplace and a small
pond crowned with a bronze frog who emits a stream of
water into the pond, which, when the weather is warm,
we can hear from the bedroom when we're going to
sleep.

Opposite the greenhouse is the kitchen, with a
wonderful early 1930s gas range, one of those with a
two-lid firebox on one end. Outside the kitchen window
is a railed porch built by our friend Kuddie, which
overlooks another flower garden and an old apple tree,
still bearing, that was probably planted when the
house was built. The lot itself, narrow though it is,
goes up the hill quite a way, where it levels off
through the cedars and ends at a large open space that
was a vegetable garden when I was still able to do
that sort of thing.

The cedars are gigantic and quite an anomaly, a patch
of forest that was never logged, probably because of
the bad survey. It simply got missed. Walking in it
now is like walking in the quiet of a much larger
forest.

Walking up the hill, you pass three small
outbuildings. One, called Marmlebog Hall (Joanna's
children call her Marmle), is where Kuddie ordered and
maintained the CDs I used to travel with. It also
contains a small labor library. The second building is
a small barn on uneven stilts because of the hill.
It's there for storage. Don't ask me what all is in
it, but I do know it would drive an archaeologist mad.
Among other things, it houses about 15 collapsing
cardboard boxes that contain what academics have
characterized as my personal archives, but are in fact
a jumble of papers and objects, the detritus of over
half a century. The University of California at Davis
once said they wanted to accession my archives. I
said, okay, if you hire somebody to come and plough
through those boxes, because I'm not going to. They
never called back.

The third building up there is an old shed, tiny,
drafty, but a place where I spent many happy hours
making things when I wasn't traveling: wooden swords,
bird feeders, and such. For the past few years the
workshop has been a henhouse with a chicken-wire
enclosure. Nothing fancy: five hens and a large
rooster named Ralph (Rooster-Dooster). Ralph enjoys
the good life. You could poke three holes in Ralph and
go bowling with him. The hens all have names, but I
forget what they are. They give us eggs, which I think
was the idea to begin with.

Last winter a bear broke into the chicken yard and
tore the door off the henhouse. The hens and Ralph
managed to escape by hiding behind an old chest of
drawers. The first hen to reappear showed up in our
dog Bo's mouth; she was uninjured, but that condition
would not have lasted much longer. The others came out
of hiding one at a time. Before our friend Che
Greenwood could come over to fix the door, we feared
the bear would return, plus a great storm was kicking
up. So we set up a round of chicken wire in the
greenhouse, which, as I say, is part of the living
room, and installed the chickens there. Eventually,
the smell was overpowering. How can chickens live with
themselves? It was Friday evening and I'd turned on my
small portable radio, as at this time the power was
out, to listen to a station in Sacramento that
broadcasts opera from 8:00 p.m. till midnight. That
Friday one of the opera excerpts featured was an aria
from Puccini's Tosca sung by Maria Callas. That's when
Ralph decided he liked opera. As she sang, he began to
crow along, so I got Tosca as a duet between Callas
and Ralph. That's when I said, these chickens have got
to go back up the hill. I mean, it was Puccini, for
God's sake.

So. That's domestic life here at our place.

A few words about me and the trade before I wind this
up. When I hit a blacklist in Utah in 1969, I realized
I had to leave Utah if I was going to make a living at
all. I didn't know anything abut this enormous folk
music family spread out all over North America. All I
had was an old VW bus, my guitar, $75, and a head full
of songs, old- and new-made. Fortunately, at the
behest of my old friend Rosalie Sorrels, I landed at
Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York. That seemed
to be ground zero for folk music at the time. Lena
Spencer, as she did with so many, took me in and
taught me the ropes. It took me a solid two years to
realize I was no longer an unemployed organizer, but a
traveling folk singer and storyteller—which, in Utah
at the time, would probably have been regarded as a
criminal activity.

I spent a long time finding my way—couches, floors,
big towns, small towns, marginal pay (folk wages). But
I found that people seemed to like what I was doing.
The folk music family took me in, carried me along,
and taught me the value of song far beyond making a
living. It taught me that I don't need wealth, I don't
need power, and I don't need fame. What I need is
friends, and that's what I found—everywhere—and not
just among those on the stage, but among those in
front of the stage as well.

Now I can no longer travel and perform; overnight our
income vanished. But all of those I had sung for, sung
with, or boarded with, hearing about my condition,
stepped in and rescued us. I can't tell you how
grateful I am to be part of this great caring
community that, for the most part, functions close to
the ground at a sub-media level, a community that has
always cared for its own. We will be forever grateful
for your help during this hard time.

The future? I don't know. But I have songs in a folder
I've never paid attention to, and songs inside me
waiting for me to bring them out. Through all of it,
up and down, it's the song. It's always been the song.

Love and solidarity,

Utah


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 28 May 08 - 10:54 AM

Perfect.

Just perfect.

Dani


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:05 AM

THose last three sentences are gonna make me break down again.

But I thank you for 'em.


A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: MikeT
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:38 AM

I first posted this on the umgf forum, and I'll copy it here:

I'm devastated. Bruce was like a second father to me. I grew up in Saratoga, and my parents were among the original patrons of the Caffe Lena. By the time I was a freshman in high school, fall of 1968, I was the dishwasher there every weekend. the music was incredible. We had heard of Bruce through Rosalie Sorrels stories of 'her good friend U. Utah Phillips, the Golden Voice of the Great Southwest.' Her stories of him were hard to believe, and when she sang his songs, well if you haven't heard Rosalie sing 'Starlight on the Rails'...... Bruce had gigs booked in the east, but never showed up, so as strange as it may seem now, we thought that he was her alter-ego, someone she made up, and that she wrote the songs herself. One night in the fall of 68, I showed up to work and there was this buzz....'He's Here!!' Who? Utah Phillips!!

It was unbelievable. the first song he sang at Lena's was 'Enola Gay'.

Bruce was the smartest and most creative person I have ever known. There were amazing musicians in town already, and Lena and Bruce created an environment that attracted so many more. Andy Cohen, Kate McGarrigle, Roma Baran, Jim Ringer, Mary McCaslin, Patti Nunn, Bill Vanaver, Martin Grosswendt, Kurt Anderson, Luke Baldwin, Jack McGann, Bill Hinckley, Pam Ostragan were a few of the people that lived in town. In those days, Lena booked the performers for the weekend, so they would play Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and usually crash at her place. The scene was amazing, and don't forget it was the 60's. Bruce was a social activist, and realized that he could continue his work as a folk performer. Watching him refine the character of Utah, and create sets of stories and song was a gift to me. He gave me my first guitar lesson. He taught me a history of this country that wasn't taught in schools. By his actions and words he instilled a sense of compassion and caring for the less fortunate among us. He was kind to a young kid who was just hanging out. He taught me how to drink Henry McKenna, which I can't do anymore.

During the summer, like most kids on town, I worked at the track. Breakfast there was always fun, and sort of the traditional way to end a night out in August. On morning Bruce and a few other folks showed up. the maitre d' asked him if he was there to see some horses. Utah said he was. 'Which stable are you with?' 'Oh, I'm from Purina, I'm here for the losers.' They threw him out.

Being the labor activist he was, he started the Wildflowers, a musicians co-op that was a local of the I.W.W. It worked pretty well until they got ripped off by a concert promoter.

He lived in town all through my high school years, and except for my parents, he is most responsible for who I am today. in 1972, I went off to college, which was tame after being around Utah. A bit after that, he moved to Spokane, and was a resident performer at the Folk Life Festival there. He told a story about the day he covered his face with charcoal, and got into the boiler of an old steam engine on the grounds of the festival. when a tourist would look in the firebox, Utah would say hello and start telling old train stories....

In 74 I took the year off from college to get my head together. Halloween 74 with a full moon I decided on the spur of the moment to join Al McKenney, Tom Mitchell and Steve Martin to drive Blanche, Bruce's white 1957 Chevy panel delivery to Spokane. We hitch-hiked to San Francisco and spent a few nights with Faith Petric, and then I hitched back to Saratoga. It was a great trip, and I still can't believe I've hitch-hiked across the country.

I hope the westbound is taking it easy and slow with him, and that his trip is calm. He left a lot behind for those of us who knew him. I hope to carry his message with me, and carry him in my heart. I'm sooooooo grateful that I got to know him back in those days.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:17 PM

Of all the images on Duncan's blog, this one touches me the most.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:25 PM

We just bought a camper and it needs a few repairs. While working on the flaws, trying to keep busy and avoid thinking, I put an unlabeled tape into the tape player, and wouldn't you know it, up comes this song: "He comes like wind like rain he goes". He did this to me...I know he did. He wanted to see an old seaman weep.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: JedMarum
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:22 PM

So sad to see his passing, but glad to be alive during his era.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:24 PM

Goodbye to Utah Bruce. I've been singing and playing his songs for decades, since I first heard him at Cafe Lena's decades ago. He was 'the real thing,' and the honesty of his spirit infused his songs. His songs will never go out of style because they speak of the truth of his life and our lives; sometimes joyous and silly, sometimes harrowing and mournfully sad. He will be missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:45 PM

A giant like him is bound to be missed, knowingly or not, by a lot more than those who knew him - I didn't, though I'd heard him, and I can see why his influence was so enormous. RIP, Bruce, your legacy is safe in the hearts of many.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:44 PM

I haven't any elegant words to add, and sit here reading them all, and echoing them, and wondering- How many of this world's people have lost a best friend? Many knew him and many more knew of him but not met him, but all held him a friend, and there are many, many, many thousands. It is good that reading these few friends' words has helped me to say goodby.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:59 PM

It was a cruel twist of fate that he started with the heart problem right after we made plans to do a tour of the Northeast, but at least we did get to do one last performance together in Grass Valley two years ago.
I guess it's true that one can't have everything... where would you put it?


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Big Mick
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:19 PM

That picture, Dan, is the one we used on the poster for The Ark concert, and are using for the concert in Grand Rapids on June 18.

When I was last talking with him, I asked him about being called "Bruce" or "Utah". He said he would never stop anyone but he preferred "Utah".

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,Dan's laptop
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:49 PM

It was the combination of the photo - a familiar image of Utah - with the message. You may have to scroll all the way to the right to see it. Just brought tears to my eyes.

Dan


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:05 PM

My Folk Roots/Folk Branches feature segment to air this week on CKUT during Folk Directions was already recorded before Bruce passed away. My next Folk Roots/Folk Branches feature, scheduled for June 12, will be a tribute to Bruce.

That tribute scheduled for June 12 has been moved up to June 5.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:18 PM

Damn, I hate crying at work. I haven't been able to get through everyone's comments since I would only cry more. Bruce was a legend in every sense of the word. I only saw him live once. I was quite young and had never heard of him. That one event made me a fan, and I have several records and CD's. He was truly a renaissance man and truly a man of the people. He will be missed by many more than I. My condolences to his family. He certainly had a life fully lived and well-lived.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 May 08 - 08:53 PM

See Amy Goodman's radio show, Democracy Now for a taped interview with Utah in 2004. (There's both an audio file and a transcript.)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,George Mann
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:01 PM

So good to see everyone sharing stories of Bruce/Utah (by the way, he once told me "You can call me Bruce or you can call me Utah, either one is fine with me")...

For those out there who did not personally know him or meet him, I hope these stories give you a better sense of the man behind the recorded works.

When Utah and I finally met in 2003, I felt like an "instant friend"-- we spent time talking at the Western Workers Festival and Utah was extremely pleased to finally meet my musical partner, Julius Margolin, who is now 91. Utah ALWAYS took a keen interest in the elder activists; he spent time talking with Julius and asking so many questions about Julius' time in the CIO, National Maritime Union, the blacklist, etc. Utah already knew of our political/labor music and the "Hail to the Thief" anti-Bush CDs we were producing-- he volunteered on the spot, first day I met him, to be part of the series (he was on the second and third CDs, and he was planning to be part of the final one coming out this summer-- I'm hoping he still will be represented).

Two months later, Julius and I found ourselves in Ithaca, NY at Utah's concert-- he had invited us and at the beginnning of his second set, he had us come up on stage and do a song. That's how sweet he could be to people! Julius had never sung solo before 900 people before. We did a new song, my parody of "If I Only Had A Brain," and since it was so new, Julius was holding the lyrics in his hands.... but his hands were shaking so much I couldn't read the sheet and of course, I flubbed one of the lines! Utah just sat there with a great smile on his face.... one of my greatest joys was sitting backstage with him before the show, him holding that big Guild guitar, and talking with him about how he started out.

Folks have mentioned how Utah took an interest in the towns he was performing in, asking in advance for copies of local papers, etc. so that he could talk about local issues from the stage and make the people feel he cared about them. But no one has mentioned another "secret" that Utah shared with me. He'd keep a notebook and after each concert, while things were still fresh in his mind, he'd jot down names of the activists he'd met, notes about the things they were into, their jobs, etc. Then, when he came back, a year, two years or more later, he'd refresh his memory from those notes beforehand. And when he got to the gig, and he met some of those same people again, he could ask them about their families, jobs, and local issues, etc. He told me people were often amazed that he'd remembered such stuff-- to him it was always important to make people feel like they mattered to him-- since it was so clear how much Utah mattered to them!

Finally, he was so generous with his time and encouragement to those of us who were younger and less experienced in the trade. If he believed in the integrity of your work, he could be your biggest supporter and greatest fan. That's what I loved about knowing him.

Keep searching out his music and stories. Keep reading these tributes (especially on Duncan's blog, linked at http://www.utahphillips.org (his son Duncan has a blog with much info and tributes).

We know we've lost a giant of a person and we cannot replace him. But we can treasure his memory, remember what he said (the long memory is the most radical idea and dangerous weapon we have), and put just a little more time into improving this world, your communities, and the relationships you have with those you love. That will make a good and lasting tribute to Utah.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Franz S.
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:37 PM

George, that's exactly what successful politicians do! And it's not necessarily a bad thing.   I remember that in 1956 I was one of a group of Young Democrats assigned to whip up the crowd at an Adlai Stevenson rally in Portland OR. After the rally we cornered Wayne Morse (the first vote I ever cast was for him), the senior senator from Oregon at the time, and asked him to autograph out signs. My ball point pen didn't work and I had toborrow another.

Three years later I met Morse in a reception line at a convention.   Upon hearing my name, Morse said," Oh, yes. You're the Young Democrat whose pen didn't work."    I'm sure Morse or someone in his crew was taking notes.

Once again I encourage everyone to get and listen to the Loafer's Glory programs. They're woth at least a year at an Ivy League college.

The worst thing that could happen to his memory would be to make him an icon like Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks or...   I'm not denigrating them (Azizi, what's the derivation of that word?), I'm just saying that we have a tendency as humans to create heroes and then let them do all the work.

And George, I expect to see you again next January at the WWLHF.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:45 PM

That picture just socked me in the solar plexus; a great soul looking straight out at anyone who comes by to see it, and the prose was just what he would have loved.


A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Franz S.
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:47 PM

And until this moment I never thought about the origins and implications of the word "denigrate". I've looked it up in an etymological dictionary and I will never use the word again. I sholud have known better. My apologies to all.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: GUEST,George Mann
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:49 PM

Franz, I hope no "negative" connotation is taken, it was not intended.... when Utah was telling me about this, it was in the context of advice about how to build your "career" in the trade-- this was 2003 and I was fairly new to playing producing folk music. To me, it was not just ingenious but a clear indication that he wanted people to know that he cared about them, even if he'd just met them once before!

I'm going to the memorial/tribute concert Saturday and Sunday morning is the memorial for Utah at the Little League field in Nevada City, where he spent many an hour cheering on the kids. I hope anyone within a decent drive of Nevada City will try to make it. I expect it to be a life-affirming and life-changing two days. For those who can't be there, I hope that others who are there (I included) can give a sense of this in a report to you all.

Peace, George


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Amos
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:06 AM

"Denigrate" means to tarnish a person's reputation. It has nothing to do with race, as far as I know.

1. To attack the character or reputation of; speak ill of; defame. 2. To disparage; belittle: The critics have denigrated our efforts.
ETYMOLOGY:        Latin dnigrre, dnigrt-, to blacken, defame : d-, de- + niger, nigr-, black; see nekw-t- in Appendix I.

The fact that it has a root in common with the color is not to be taken literally, as reputations do not have colors as far as I know.

A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: Haruo
Date: 29 May 08 - 01:01 AM

There is no more reason to refuse to use the word "denigrate" than there is for the flipside refusal to use "illuminate". That's silly. Consider these lines from "Lift Every Voice and Sing":
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered;
Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou Who hast brought us thus far on the way;
Thou Who hast by Thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
There is nothing racist (or even racial) about those uses of "white" and "light". To allow such concerns to dictate wholesale changes in not merely English-language but general human connotation and phrasing is ridiculous. With due respect,

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: jacqui.c
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:04 AM

Please stop the thread creep - especially on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Utah Phillips 5/15/35-5/24/08
From: kendall
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:10 AM

Franz S your comment about making Utah an icon reminded me of a conversation he and I had some time ago. I accused him of being a legend, and he said "I don't want to be a legend. A legend has to show up, so I'd rather be a myth."

Yes, please stop the thread creep.


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