R.I.P. Utah Phillips

I am a latecomer to the wisdom, the radical truthiness of Utah Phillips.  I discovered him through my love of Ani DiFranco and their 1999 album “My Fellow Workers”.  Both artists helped me further along the progressive path and deprogramming the flawed logic of corporatism.  While there are many things I could say (which have been said before by better people), I thought the best memorial I could offer is a chance for other people to hear why he is so special.  So I have included some worthwhile quotes of Utah’s in case there are still people out there who are interested.

I would also like to use the comment section of this post for you all out there to post your own radical quotes that you have found uplifting.

“Kids don’t have a little brother working in the coal mine, they don’t have a little sister coughing her lungs out in the looms of the big mill towns. … We organized; we broke the back of the sweatshops in this country; we have child labor laws. Those were not benevolent gifts from enlightened management. They were fought for, they were bled for, they were died for by working people, by people like us. … That’s why I sing these songs.”

“The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. You’re
born with it, like your eyes, like your ears. Freedom is something you
assume, then you wait for someone to try to take it away. The degree to
which you resist is the degree to which you are free…”

‘You are about to be told one more time that you are America’s most valuable natural resource….. Have you seen what they do to valuable natural resources?! Have you seen a strip mine? Have you seen a clear cut in the forest? Have you seen a polluted river? Don’t ever let them call you a valuable natural resource… they’re going to strip your mind.. your soul…they’re going to clear cut your best thoughts for the sake of profit unless you learn to resist. “Cause the profit system follows the path of least resistance and following the path of least resistance is what makes the river crooked. Hmmmm….”

“the stories I tell don’t just come out of my own life. many of them come to me from my elders. i strained to hear them through the roar of my own ego, my own needs and desires. but when i became quiet and open to the thoughts and feelings of my elders, i learned that my life-story deepens, grows richer, by taking in the stories of those who have led extraordinary lives, lives that can never be lived again. except in memory – through mine, through yours – as the fragments of our story – lives mix and blend into a common whole, the great river of our collective memory of which we are all a part and into which each one of us will, some day, dissolve.”


  1. Yes Ani Di Franco was one of the inspired connections for sure and is partly what inspired me to do a flowgram tribute: http://growingcurious.typepad.com/growing_curious/2008/05/utah-phillips.html?cid=117154436#comments

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