Phil Ochs–I Ain’t Marching Anymore

One of the most iconic voices of the 60’s, Phil Ochs was more known for his original works than his covers of folk standards.  They were often acidic and despondent.  Others had sparks of hope and humanity in their music, but Ochs didn’t see a way out from the military, social and economic turmoil in which the country found itself.  I Ain’t Marching Anymore was one of his signature tracks, telling the tale of any eternal soldier who’s been present at war after war, but finally refuses to participate any longer.  The song not only questions what has been achieved through seemingly endless war, but also indicts the military-industrial complex that feeds it:

Now the labor leader’s screaming when they close the missile plants
United Fruit screams at the Cuban shore
Call it, Peace, or call it, Treason/Call it, Love, or call it, Reason
But I ain’t marching anymore

The song is one of Ochs’s simplest statements, not just condemning war, but also those who allow it to proliferate and do nothing to stop it.  As always, his voice soars with stirring clarity, angry and sure.  It’s one of the definitive protest songs from perhaps the definitive writer of protest songs because of this impassioned timelessness.


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