Utah Phillips’s principles

utah phillips 2007

In a 1997 interview, Bruce “Utah” Phillips (1935–2008) described himself as a “Catholic, anarchist, pacifist, draft dodger of two world wars, tax refuser, vegetarian, one-man revolution in America.”

“My body is my ballot,” he continued, “and I try to cast it on behalf of the people around me every day of my life.”

“I don’t assign responsibility to do things to other people; I accept the responsibility to make sure that things get done. I love to tell that to people who are frustrated with the ballot box. How many people do I know who have never voted for anyone who won, ever in their lives, and are really frustrated? It’s not the end of the road. There’s another way to go, and that’s with your own labor, your own sweat, your own body. I think there’s a lot of hope in that.”

Quoted in “Radical folk: A conversation with Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips, kindred spirits and collaborators on a daring new album” by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers (Acoustic guitar VIII/2:56 [August 1997] pp. 62–70).

Today would have been Phillips’s 80th birthday! Above, the singer, storyteller, and labor organizer at a peace march in 2007; below, classic Phillips from 2005.

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