Tag Archives: political songs


today, while slowly driving through rush hour traffic, 1905 came on the old shuffle. this happens every so often, and when it does, it reminds me how much i really like these guys. they are, by far, the most positive punk rock band i’ve ever heard. all their songs ooze with passion, honesty, and sincerity, and you can tell that they are playing music for all the right reasons.

i really don’t know much about 1905, other than they’re from washington d.c., they formed in 2000, released an album in 2003 on exotic fever and “Amor y Lucha”, and that they love freedom.

they are a ‘punk band’, but definitely don’t fit into the standard ‘punk rock’ mold. the album, “Voice”  has more than one instrumental track, more than one acoustic track, and even a spoken word track. don’t worry, though, there’s plenty of screaming, gritty guitars, sloppy performances, and raw energy.

another thing is that there really aren’t any songs that are “just a good song”. it feels like every song truely means something to them, that they are trying their hardest to speak to anyone who is willing to listen. and unlike many musicians that are trying to say something, the sociopolitical lyrics come across more as introspective and candid, rather than preachy or xeroxed. example:

Just because i can’t change everything,
doesn’t mean i can’t change anything.
Dance on the ashes of what was and fall head first in what could be.
Beyond the barricade…is there a world you long to see?
To envision a world without chains but recognize that we,
as individuals, can only chip away at the links.
One at a time, day by day.
To have the ability to wage quiet wars in our everyday lives,
and recognize the subtle victories when they happen….
An opinion changed by something you said.
A lifestyle adjusted by what you suggested.
A brighter path taken with directions you gave.
A world revealed by what you did.
One brick today is one less for tomorrow

i saw these kids play in des moines FOREVER ago. if i remember right, it was at the fallout shelter? ah, the good old days…

oh! and i’m assuming the band name refers to the russian revolution of 1905, but i could be completely wrong. (if anybody knows, please leave a comment.)

i really wish i knew more about these people, because then i could actually write something other than “this band is cool!”, but… i don’t, so… hopefully the music will speak for itself…

Can’t Change Everything:



A Conversation:


AND… i stumbled across these live performance videos tonight:



here’s an interview with Jess (vocalist) and Brian (bassist)

and the unofficial 1905 myspace page



nick (guitarist) has also put out a solo acoustic album under the moniker “Songs Of August”…
sorry, all i could find were:
some bits and pieces of songs
a last.fm page


Phil Ochs

phil ochs. i first learned about this man maybe two years ago through a reference in a billy bragg song. i first heard his tunes maybe ONE year ago, and he’s now easily one of my TOP 5 favorite folk singers.

(i haven’t actually made a top 5 list, but off the top of my head, and in no particular order… woody guthrie, phil ochs, jim croce, john hartford, and some other boring asshole probably)

phil was a “left social democrat” and “early revolutionary” who wrote and performed “topical songs” from 1962 through 1975. he was also bi-polar, manic depressive, and had an alternate personality as well as alcoholism and an addiction to valium and sometimes lithium. i think i like him a LOT because he was an actual political activist and his songs are about real, important things. so many of these stupid folk singers sing ‘political’ songs, but don’t actually get involved in any real activism. phil ochs was serious about it.

when he was 18, he was arrested in miami for sleeping on a park bench, and was held in jail for 15 days. while in jail, he realized he wanted to write, and more importantly, to become a journalist. so… during college, he wrote a lot of articles for the school paper, many of which were refused publication because they were too radical. getting fed up, he started his own underground paper and continued pursuing radical jounalism. during this time, he was also introduced to folk music and learned to play the guitar (he was already a somewhat acclaimed clarinet player).

the natural next step for ochs was to combine his love of music with his love of journalism, and he began writing political songs. he described himself as a troubadour jounalist whose songs were built from the stories read in newsweek. in the early sixties, phil was getting rather popular in the new york folk scene and would hang out with such well knowns as joan baez and bob dylan. he was also heavily involved in political activism, performing at and organizing anti-war rallies, civil rights rallies, labor events, etc.

however… he seemed to become more disillusioned and depressed with every passing year (his mental problems were becoming more and more serious as well), and when 1968 rolled around, it really took its toll on phil with the assassination of martin luther king jr. and robert f. kennedy, the riots at the dnc, and the election of nixon. he was also getting negative reviews on his new “baroque-folk” style album, which didn’t help the depression.

in 1970, in order to have more influence on the general public, he commissioned a gold suit from elvis’s costumer and went on tour, playing buddy holly, merle haggard, and elvis covers as well as his own songs. he also travelled to chile, hung out with victor jara (who’s death was immortalized in the song “washington bullets” by the clash), a staunch supporter of allende, and performed in the first greenpeace concert.

1973 was another bad year for ochs… not only did both jara and allende die in the u.s. backed coupe in chile, but he was attacked in africa by robbers who strangled him and injured his vocal chords. the attack worsened his mental problems, and he became increasingly paranoid, believing that the attack was arranged by government agents. (it later turned out that the FBI did, indeed, have a 500 page file on ochs, but they didn’t actually have anything to do with the strangulation)

in 1976, phil ochs hanged himself.

here are a couple of mp3s off the one album i own… “there but for fortune”, a compilation put out by elektra in 89.

There But For Fortune

Is There Anybody Here

Draft Dodger Rag

here’s a live clip of phil performing “the highwayman”:

and here’s a clip of victor jara:

AND… Washington Bullets by The Clash: