I’ve been thinking about the death of Utah Phillips since I heard about it last week. I’ve been a big fan and supporter of Phillips for years. I have a bunch of his recordings, and I was even lucky enough to have seen him perform twice. One time I got to see him in my hometown of Pittsburgh, and the second time I saw him in Ann Arbor. Both shows were amazing. I also got the chance to chat with him at each one. In Pittsburgh he yelled at me because I didn’t have my IWW rigging with me (I was a delegate for the Union at that time) and he wanted to pay up back dues. The second time I met him I showed him my rose tattoo and he poked at it…perhaps not knowing that it was very new ad still relatively sensitive. My two run-ins with Utah Phillips were wonderful and I wouldn’t trade those memories. He was a crusty, old, weathered Union man, and at least to me, he behaved like it. He was also kind, (amazed that we had driven all the way from Pittsburgh to Ann Arbor to see him), and FUNNY. As an anarchist he did something that so few anarchists seem to be able to do well…have a sense of humor that can resonate with people. He talked sense that people were hard pressed to ignore. I was lucky to have met the man. He will be missed.
Here’s to U.Utah Bruce Phillips.