Phil Ochs: When in Rome / On the Road

The option I chose was an addition for Phil Ochs’ song ‘When in Rome’ and the relation to beat author Jack Kerouac’s book ‘On the Road’, published in 1957. As influential as the book was, it isn’t surprising that Phil Ochs read it during his time at Ohio State in 1958. This book documented the ‘real’ America while Jack Kerouac hitchhiked across America, which explains some of the topics of Phil Ochs’ songs including understanding the plight of liberals in ‘Love Me, I’m a Liberal’. Additionally, much as how Jack Kerouac quested forth to find the real America, Phil Ochs also had his own personal journey against America as documented in the documentary  There is but Fortune (Minute 57).

In addition, both Kerouac and Ochs became men great than themselves. One leading to the counterculture of beats, along with writers like Allen Ginsberg, and the other being a folk hero who lead forth across America with the reality of the every man. Who lead forth with the reality of those going against the stream in dodging drafts and civil rights. Who lead forth with the voices of the unspoken, both from the system and from the inner struggles.

On The Road Map.jpg

Image from Jack Kerouac’s diary of his hitchhiking odyssey.


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