June 2nd, 2008

rock shadow

I guess it's old buddy goodnight

Folk singer and activist Utah Phillips passed away last Friday from heart disease at the tender age of 73. I was first introduced to his music to my dad, who sang Utah's song "Old Buddy Goodnight" as a lullaby to my sister and me (along with Joplin's "Mercedes Benz"). It's a rather dark, sad song for a lullaby, but I liked it. I learned a couple of his (many) songs about trains in elementary school.

I also got to see Utah in concert at Freight and Salvage, probably eight years ago now, with my uncle and aunt. My uncle told me of a time decades ago when he was sleeping on the floor in a cabin in the Sierras with Utah and a bunch of other hippies and got no sleep because Utah snored so loudly.

As an important figure in both folk music and labor rights, he'll surely be missed.