Remembering Utah Phillips

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Scott Simon takes a moment to remember activist folk singer U. Utah Phillips who died this week.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. U. UTAH PHILLIPS (Singer): (Singing) Will have freedom from wage slavery and come join the grand (unintelligible) band?


Anarchist, activist, organizer and folk singer U. Utah Phillips died this week at his home in Nevada City, California. He was 73 and had heart disease.

Mr. Phillips was a Wobbly, member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He joined the Army, rode the rails, sang songs and worked at the Joe Hill House in Salt Lake City. For an anarchist, he ran for office a lot: the Senate in 1968 and president in 1976. He lost. Mr. Phillips wrote working-class songs that were recorded by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Tom Waite. A new generation of listeners got to know his music in the late 1990s, when he collaborated with Ani DiFranco on the album "Fellow Workers." It received a Grammy nomination.

U. Utah Phillips also wrote a famous song denouncing NPR for its corporate ties, called the "Talking NPR Blues."

(Soundbite of song, "Talking NPR Blues")

Mr. PHILLIPS: Well, I got tired of being treated like a veg, so I called up the station and canceled my pledge, and in a mighty act of liberation, sent the money off to my community station. I said I love you, but if you blow it, I'll sure as hell let you know it. I'll knock the radio off the shelf, buy a transmitter and do it myself.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of applause)

Mr. PHILLIPS: Whitebeard the Pirate. This is radio station HOBO, broadcasting on a vagrancy of 60 to 90 days signing off for now.

(Soundbite of applause)

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