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Phil Ochs Trivia

Phil Ochs Trivia Quizzes

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3 Phil Ochs quizzes and 35 Phil Ochs trivia questions.
  White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land   top quiz  
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Phil Ochs was a protest singer (although he preferred to refer to himself as a topical singer, or a singing journalist) of the 1960s and 70s. Here are some questions about a few of his best-known songs.
Average, 10 Qns, looney_tunes, May 29 11
looney_tunes editor
2613 plays
  "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song    
Multiple Choice
 10 Qns
Phil Ochs was one of the great protest song writers of the sixties, and his "Draft Dodger Rag" was emblematic of that period. That's the reason I've chosen to dissect it for my fiftieth quiz!
Easier, 10 Qns, janetgool, May 15 11
747 plays
  Phil Ochs Trivia    
Multiple Choice
 15 Qns
Trivia about folk singer Phil Ochs. The questions are about Phil's life and music. Difficult...know your Phil Ochs!
Tough, 15 Qns, raskol, May 15 11
206 plays
Related Topics
  Folk Music [Music] (39 quizzes)

Phil Ochs Trivia Questions

1. Phil Ochs acknowledged Woody Guthrie as being a major influence on his songwriting. What song, sharing its title with Woody's autobiography, did he write as a tribute?

From Quiz
White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: Bound for Glory

Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was one of America's most famous singer-songwriters, and inspired such artists as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton, amongst others. His autobiography, "Bound for Glory", was originally published in 1943, and recorded his experiences to that point using language that attempted to reproduce 'Okie-speak', as the desperate plight of many during the Dust Bowl years was a central theme of the book. The title has since been used for a biographical movie released in 1976, as well as for Phil Ochs's tribute song. As the last lines of the song suggest, many people can sing "This Land is Your Land", at least in part, but not many remember that he believed in the power of song to effect political change - his guitar carried a label saying 'This Machine Kills Fascists'. "Oh why sing the songs and forget about the aim? He wrote them for a reason, why not sing them for the same?" All four of these songs come from Phil Ochs's first album, "All the News That's Fit to Sing" (1964). Actually, it should be called his first official album, as an album titled "Camp Favorites" (1962 or 1963) which he recorded uncredited has come to light. This album only involved him as a singer of traditional camp songs, and was not known about outside his family until early in the 21st century. It is not generally considered part of the canon (especially by those of us who were buying his albums when they were first released).

2. Folk-singer Phil Ochs was probably best known for his many anti-war songs, including "Draft Dodger Rag" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore". What personal experience did Ochs have with the military?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: He attended a military prep school for several years.

Phil Ochs was born in 1940. His father suffered from bipolar disease, which Phil apparently inherited. After a long bout with depression, Ochs took his own life in 1976. As a teen-ager, Ochs attended the Stauton Military Academy in Virginia from 1956-58. This was his only personal experience with the military.

3. What was the last album Phil Ochs released in his lifetime?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: Gunfight At Carnegie Hall

'Gunfight At Carnegie Hall' was the last album released in his lifetime. It is a live recording of his rather disasterous performance at Carnegie Hall in 1974. Phil chose to play Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard tributes instead of the folk-protest songs the audience came to hear. It's still Phil, and a great record.

4. "Too Many Martyrs" is a Phil Ochs/Bob Gibson song about the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. It was inspired by the 1963 death of which NAACP field worker, whose name is included in the alternative title for this song?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: Medgar Evers

Alternatively known as "The Ballad of Medgar Evers", this 1963 song also refers to the death of Emmett Till, and laments all the deaths over many years associated with the struggle for equality in an ostensibly free and democratic society. As the chorus says, "Too many martyrs and too many dead, Too many lies, too many empty words were said, Too many times for too many angry men, Oh, let it never be again." Bob Dylan's "Only a Pawn in Their Game" (1963) also deals with the shooting of Medgar Evers (1925-1963), the first NAACP field secretary in Mississippi, by Byron De La Beckwith. "Here's to the State of Mississippi", a Phil Ochs song originally released on the album "I Ain't Marching Anymore" (1965) offers harsh criticism of the social structures in that state which he saw as having perpetuated racism through the years.

5. "I Ain't Marching Anymore" is the title song on Phil Ochs's second album. What conflict, for which American involvement was beginning to escalate in 1965, sparked this anti-war song?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: Vietnam War

"I Ain't Marching Anymore" may well be the song for which Phil Ochs is most remembered. The song recounts some of the experiences of American soldiers in wars, starting with the Battle of New Orleans in 1812, when "the young land started growing, the young blood started flowing" and hitting 'highlights' through the years, commenting that "it's always the old who lead us to the war, always the young to fall". The final verse ends "Call it peace or call it treason, Call it love or call it reason, But I ain't marching anymore, No, I ain't marching anymore."

6. "And I always carry..." What did he carry?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: "a purse"

The military in the United States has historically demonstrated intolerance towards homosexuals, beginning with Lieutenant Golthold Frederick Enslin who was drummed out of the army after having been charged with sodomy. In 1943, homosexuals were banned from serving in any branch of the US military. While declaring himself as a "purse-carrying gay" would have earned an exemption for our young draftee during the sixties, this was a rather unlikely scenario. The prevailing attitude towards homosexuals during the fifties and sixties in the United States was extremely unwelcoming and any other reason for avoiding the draft would have been preferable.

7. What was the first instrument Phil learned to play?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: clarinet

Phil started playing the clarinet in his early teens, and showed much musical talent as a boy.

8. Whose death inspired Phil Ochs to write the song "That Was the President", released on his 1965 album "I Ain't Marching Anymore"?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: John F. Kennedy

While all four of these presidents were assassinated, it was the death of the man popularly perceived as a vibrant and inspirational leader on November 22, 1963 that stirred Ochs to write this tribute to JFK. Conveying the emotional atmosphere of the time, he wrote "It's not only for the leader that the sorrow hits so hard, There are greater things I'll never understand; How a man so filled with life, even death was caught off guard, That was the President and that was the man."

9. Which Phil Ochs song, targeting the social inequity of the way in which the death penalty is applied, contains the line "And a rich man never died upon the chair"?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: The Iron Lady

All four of these titles come from Ochs's second Album, "I Ain't Marching Anymore" (1965). "The Ballad of the Carpenter" is a Ewan MacColl song about Jesus as a man of the people; "Links on the Chain" is a criticism of labor unions for failing to support the civil rights movement; "Days of Decision" is a challenge to all to face the reality of the civil rights movement; "The Iron Lady" criticizes the death penalty. 'The iron lady' is a reference to the electric chair, a common form of execution. Ochs describes the death penalty as a form of legalized murder in the lines "Both the Bible and the courts agree, that the state's allowed to murder in the chair", and finishes by pointing out the social inequity of the fact that "a rich man never died upon the chair".

10. And now, for the first verse. "Oh, I'm just a typical American boy from a typical American town I believe in G-d and Senator Dodd and keeping old...down". Who does our young man believe in keeping down?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: Castro

Fidel Castro, president of Cuba, came to power after a revolution that extended between 1956 to 1959. He was able to overthrow the government of Batista, due in part to support from South American revolution Che Guevara and the KGB. As a Soviet satellite, Cuba was an anathema to the United States during the Cold War. Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut served in both the House of Representative and the Senate. Prior to being elected to Congress, he spent fifteen months as a prosecutor during the Nuremberg trials. I'm sure the Almighty needs no introduction.

11. What is the title of the song that, in 1972, Phil Ochs rewrote from his number "Here's To The State Of Mississippi"?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: "Here's To The State Of Richard Nixon"

In 1972, in the midst of writers block, Phil could only come up with "Here's To The State Of Richard Nixon" to comment on the upcoming presidental election. The reworked song featured only one different verse from the original "Mississippi" version.

12. On the 1966 album "Phil Ochs in Concert", there is a song about the plight of illegal immigrants working in the fields of California. What is the name of this song?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: Bracero

"Bracero" (a Spanish word meaning farmhand or agricultural worker) is an indictment of the exploitation of illegal immigrants in the agricultural industry, describing the ways in which people desperate to earn a living wage to support themselves and their families were being harshly treated in the 1960s. The chorus sarcastically offers this greeting: "Oh, welcome to California Where the friendly farmers Will take care of you." Woody Guthrie's 1948 song "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" described the unfeeling treatment given by government officials to the illegal Mexican immigrants who were being deported when their plane crashed in Los Gatos Canyon.

13. "And when it came my time to serve, I knew.... But when I got to my old draft board, buddy, this is what I said" What, precisely, did our young man know?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: "Better dead than red"

"Better dead than red" was a slogan used in the United States during the Cold War. The "Cold War" describes the period of tension and hostility between the Soviet Bloc countries and the West, primarily the United States, between the end of the Second World War until the Soviet Union fell, in 1991. Several military conflicts were part of the Cold War, primarily the Korean War and the Vietnam War, although the United States and the Soviet Union never fought each other directly. One of the uglier parts of the legacy of the Cold War, at least from the American side, was the witch hunts conducted by Senator Joseph McCarthy. One of the few positive outcomes of the Cold War was the marvelous spy novels of John Le Carre.

14. Which song did Phil Ochs compose as a commentary on the assassination of JFK?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: "Crucifixion"

"Crucifixion" is the correct choice, although Phil wrote other songs that dealt with the assassinations of JFK, RFK and MLK (like "Too Many Martyrs"). The song never mentions JFK by name, or the presidency for that matter, but when Phil sung it for Robert Kennedy personally in 1967, it made Kennedy cry.

15. What Phil Ochs song, criticizing American imperialism, contains the lines "We've got too much money we're looking for toys, And guns will be guns and boys will be boys"?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: Cops of the World

All four of these songs are from his third album, "Phil Ochs in Concert", which was actually a combination of live and studio recordings released in 1966. "Cops of the World" criticizes a perceived tendency of the American government to use military force to gain desired outcomes in international politics, ground also covered in "(The Marines Have Landed on the Shores of) Santo Domingo" on the same album. "Cannons of Christianity" attacks the failure of religious authorities to uphold the roots of Christianity and speak out against war. "Ringing of Revolution" offers a description of violent revolution by the desperate poor, surprising the unaware members of the middle class as well as the exploiting classes of society. "There But For Fortune", more familiar to many from Joan Baez's version, describes a prisoner, a homeless person, a drunk staggering out of a bar, and a country that has been bombed, with each verse ending with the statement that "there but for fortune may go you or I". The title has been used for several biographical movies about Phil Ochs.

16. "I've got a dislocated disc and a wracked up back I'm allergic to flowers and bugs, And when the bombshell hits..." What happens to our young man when the bombshell hits?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: "I get epileptic fits"

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by seizures. There are several types of epilepsy, the best-known being "grand mal", in which the seizure includes loss of consciousness, convulsions involving the limbs, and loss of bladder control. According the, one percent of the world's population suffers from epilepsy. Some famous people who had epilepsy include Napoleon Bonaparte, Lenin, Gustave Flaubert and Alfred Nobel.

17. The tombstone on the cover of "Rehearsals For Retirement" has Phil dying when?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: Chicago, 1968

Phil was emotionally wounded by the riots at the Chicago Convention in 1968, which he was a witness to. It had such a profound affect on him that he was never really the same again. It's his death date on the tombstone on the album.

18. And now for the second verse! "Ooh, I hate...and I hope he dies, One thing you gotta see, That someone's gotta go over there, And that someone isn't me" Who does our draft dodger hate so much?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: Chou En Lai

Chou En Lai was born in 1898 in China. In 1949, shortly after the Chinese Revolution, he became the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, a post which he held until shortly before his death in 1976. (Information from Wikipedia)

19. What was the name Phil gave to the violent, drug abusing/alcholoic alter-ego he created as he was spinning out of control towards the end of his life?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: John Train

Phil started calling himself "John Train" in 1975, claiming he "murdered" Phil Ochs. Phil, as Train, became a kind of local crazy, and his rampages through the bars of Greenwich Village have become legandary. As Train, Phil was banned from every bar and often was seen sleeping on park benches and in alleyways.

20. "So, I wish you well, Sarge, give 'em Hell! Kill me a thousand or so And if you ever get a war... I'll be the first to go" What kind of war is our brave young man willing to fight in?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: "Without blood or gore"

The Vietnam War exacted a high human price. Between one to two million Vietnamese citizens lost their lives during the conflict. Approximately 58,000 American servicemen were killed in action, and 350,000 were injured.

21. Which Edgar Allan Poe poem did Phil Ochs put to music?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: The Bells

Phil turned Poe's poem 'The Bells' into an amazingly melodic song. While playing it live, he was often joined on stage by Beat poet Allan Ginsberg who played buddhist finger symbols in time with the music.

22. The Phil Ochs song which gave this quiz its title is a song of protest about the Vietnam War. What aspect of the war does this lyrical song emphasize?

From Quiz White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land

Answer: American interference in another country's civil war

All of these aspects of the Vietnam War are mentioned in "White Boots Marching in a Yellow Land", but the overriding theme that ties them all together is the argument that Americans are fighting in a civil war that is none of their business, aside from imperialist imperatives. As the final lines remind listeners, "We're fighting in a war we lost before the war began We're the white boots marching in a yellow land." This song was originally released on the 1968 Phil Ochs album "Tape From California", recorded as he was moving from New York to California.

23. And just to wrap up our song - when did the draft end in the United States?

From Quiz "Draft Dodger Rag" by Phil Ochs: Anatomy of a Song

Answer: 1973

Richard Nixon made a promise to end the draft as part of his election campaign for the 1968 presidency. He thought that by ending the draft and creating an all-volunteer military, he could put an end to the anti-war protests of middle-class young men who were concerned about being drafted. The last soldiers to be drafted by the Selective Service were in December 1972, and the draft formally ended in 1973. However, in 1980, Congress passed legislation requiring young men to register for the military in the event that the United States was faced with an emergency.

24. What year did Phil Ochs organize 'The War Is Over' rally in Los Angeles, CA in response to the escalation of the Viet-Nam conflict?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: 1967

In an attempt at absurdist politics, Phil decided it would be a good idea if the people themselves declare the VietNam war over in 1967. At the concert rallies to commemorate the "end" of the war, he was joined by such folkies as Joan Baez, Tom Paxton and Peter, Paul and Mary.

25. Phil Ochs wrote the title song to which roller derby movie? Hint (or not)- it starred Raquel Welch.

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: 'Kansas City Bomber'

Phil wrote the title song for 'Kansas City Bomber'. Suprisingly, the film wasn't a hit at the box office, but Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees sing back-up vocals on the tune.

26. What was Phil's most popular song in his lifetime?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: Changes

In his lifetime, "Changes" was his most sucessful and most popular song. It was covered by Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, Ian and Sylvia, among others. That song, in recent years, has been overshadowed by "I Ain't Marching Anymore" and "Love Me, I'm A Liberal" as Phil Ochs songs that are recorded by other artists.

27. Phil Ochs commited suicide April 9, 1976 at the age of 35. How did he go out?

From Quiz Phil Ochs Trivia

Answer: Hanging by his belt.

Poor Phil hung himself by his belt in the bathroom of his sister's house. He was discovered by her 14 year-old son, David.

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