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Obit: Utah Phillips (1935-2008)

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astro 24 May 08 - 10:24 PM
GUEST,Richard B 24 May 08 - 10:39 PM
GUEST,bflat 24 May 08 - 10:59 PM
katlaughing 24 May 08 - 11:12 PM
katlaughing 24 May 08 - 11:13 PM
Padre 25 May 08 - 12:12 AM
astro 25 May 08 - 12:57 AM
Genie 25 May 08 - 01:43 AM
Stephen L. Rich 25 May 08 - 01:58 AM
elfcape 25 May 08 - 07:31 AM
Stephen L. Rich 25 May 08 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Dani 25 May 08 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,kiyohide kunizaki 25 May 08 - 10:07 AM
topical tom 25 May 08 - 10:15 AM
Ron Davies 25 May 08 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Texas Guest 25 May 08 - 12:39 PM
EBarnacle 25 May 08 - 01:31 PM
kendall 25 May 08 - 06:14 PM
Barbara 25 May 08 - 09:42 PM
GUEST,George Mann 25 May 08 - 10:29 PM
GUEST 25 May 08 - 10:50 PM
Big Mick 25 May 08 - 10:56 PM
Art Thieme 25 May 08 - 11:40 PM
BK Lick 26 May 08 - 12:27 AM
georgeward 26 May 08 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Sheila 26 May 08 - 08:19 AM
catspaw49 26 May 08 - 08:39 AM
Bob Hitchcock 26 May 08 - 09:07 AM
GUEST,Sheila 26 May 08 - 09:33 AM
Charley Noble 26 May 08 - 11:09 AM
Mark Ross 26 May 08 - 11:53 AM
Jeri 26 May 08 - 01:17 PM
Art Thieme 26 May 08 - 02:27 PM
katlaughing 26 May 08 - 04:30 PM
Def Shepard 26 May 08 - 05:02 PM
kendall 26 May 08 - 05:15 PM
Amos 26 May 08 - 05:56 PM
Mark Ross 26 May 08 - 06:27 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 May 08 - 06:45 PM
BK Lick 26 May 08 - 07:21 PM
kendall 26 May 08 - 07:27 PM
Mark Ross 26 May 08 - 07:33 PM
Mike Regenstreif 26 May 08 - 11:19 PM
katlaughing 26 May 08 - 11:35 PM
Stilly River Sage 27 May 08 - 12:05 AM
open mike 27 May 08 - 12:19 AM
Art Thieme 27 May 08 - 01:52 AM
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Joe Offer 27 May 08 - 04:13 AM
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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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