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  • Singing Through the Hard Times: A Tribute to Utah Phillips
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Singing Through the Hard Times: A Tribute to Utah Phillips

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Audio CD, February 24, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Not only does Singing Through the Hard Times pay tribute to the life and work of Utah Phillips, it also, by default, pays due tribute to the accomplishments and struggles of the working class, labor unions, and those who dedicate their lives to community service and social justice. These 39 songs present a history of working people, and would serve as an excellent introduction for folks just discovering that realm of American history through music." -- About.com, February 2009

"Utah Phillips, who died last year at age 73, and Ani DiFranco weren't quite the odd couple that their pictures suggest. Phillips' traditional folk music was as politically conscious as DiFranco's contemporary folk-punk. Of the familiar names on this loving collection, released on DiFranco's Righteous Babe label, Emmylou Harris and Mary Black harmonize beautifully on "Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia." A quavering-voiced Pete Seeger picks his way through "Or Else (One-A These Days)," pondering a future where every vote counts and the Navy has to hold a bake sale to build a battleship. But most of the 36 cuts (one-third of them brand new) serve as introductions to lesser-known but worthy wanderers of the folk trails, such as Gordon Bok and Rosalie Sorrels. Phillips, bearded and burly, was a rugged and thoughtful fellow, curious about the world, and we have to find more like him." -- Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY, February 27, 2009

From the Artist

The project itself started as a way to help Utah through his own hard times. Last year, folksinger Dan Schatz spoke with fellow musicians Kendall and Jacqui Morse at a musicians' gathering about putting together a CD to help Phillips defray medical expenses. Phillips had been ill for some time when the project began, and died in May of 2008. "It was a blow to lose Utah," said Schatz. "It gave the project a wistful feeling, knowing that he would never hear the final result of so much love, or hold the CDs in his own hands. We do know that he was very pleased and excited about what was going on. It meant a lot to him that his songs would continue to live for years to come."

Utah himself once said, "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 of the Northeast. Why? Because 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. Kids ought to know that. That's why I sing these songs. That's why I tell these stories. No root, no fruit!"

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Singing through the Hard TimesMagpie with, Dan Schatz, Emma's Revolution, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Friends 3:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Going AwayWill Brown with Cindy Kallet and Grey Larsen 4:55$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Green Rolling Hills of West VirginiaEmmylou Harris and Mary Black 3:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Dump the Bosses Off Your BackSi Kahn 1:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. All Used UpJohn McCutcheon 3:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Starlight on the RailsSaul Broudy 4:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. All About PreachersLisa Null 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. She'll Never Be MineHarry Tuft and Jack Stanesco 3:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. The Popular WobblyLarry Penn 2:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Room for the PoorCathy Fink and Marcy Marxer 5:09$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Reuben's TrainSparky & Rhonda Rucker 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. Paddy Welcome BackFast Rattler 4:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. MichaelMagpie 4:53$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. The Telling Takes Me HomeEd Trickett 3:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Phoebe SnowKendall Morse 3:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. If I Could Be the RainFaith Petric 2:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
17. Queen of the RailsDan Schatz 3:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
18. Kid's LiberationJudy Cook 2:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
19. Or Else! (One-a These Days)Pete Seeger 3:24$0.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Goodnight Loving TrailGordon Bok 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. The Soldier's ReturnRosalie Sorrels 2:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. I Remember Loving YouTom Paxton 4:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Jesse's CorridoElizabeth Laprelle 3:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Hood River, Roll OnBruce Brackney 2:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. Old Buddy, GoodnightPop and Bodie Wagner and Dakota Dave Hull 3:19$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Hallelujah I'm a BumMick Lane 2:45$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. The InternationalAni Difranco 2:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. The Faded Roses of DecemberKat Logan 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Daddy, What's a Train?Jay Peterson 3:37$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Bill McCarranRay Bierl 3:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
12. He Comes Like RainFinest Kind 3:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
13. Look for Me in ButteMark Ross 3:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
14. The Miner's LullabyJacqui Morse 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
15. Larimer StreetRik Palieri 3:20$0.99  Buy MP3 
16. Old George's SquareJean Ritchie 3:05$0.99  Buy MP3 
17. Rock Salt and NailsTaylor Whiteside 3:41$0.99  Buy MP3 
18. Hobo's Last RideArt Thieme 2:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
19. Singing in the CountryCaroline Paton 3:01$0.99  Buy MP3 
20. Hymn SongEmma's Revolution 3:46$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 24, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Righteous Babe
  • ASIN: B001O54TFC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,200 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By William E. Adams on March 4, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Bruce Phillips became known to me back in the late 1960's when I became friends with a New Jersey folk singer and newsman named Jim Labig. Jim has been dead quite awhile, but in his mostly amateur singing career he put out one record for a Vermont label. He was a friend of Utah's, and asked him to contribute the liner notes. Mr. Phillips turned in the funniest version of liner notes I have ever seen on an LP or in a CD booklet in my life. Reading that piece made me want to meet him and I got my chance at the 1969 Philly Folk Festival. If memory serves, he played before a small audience on a Sunday afternoon in a farm field, right after Jean Ritchie. I do not recall what songs Utah chose, but I have never forgotten his guitar, with "I.W.W." taped or painted on it, for Industrial Workers of the World, a.k.a. The Wobblies, one of the more radical labor unions ever created, and by that time, one with a tiny membership compared to most. Utah was known as a left-leaning social justice kind of guy, a fine storyteller, and better at writing songs than performing them. On this tribute two-CD set, you will find a variety of performers, a few famous, a few with "authentic" vocal talent rather than smooth, and a range of songs that reflect Utah's interests. He was anti-war, sometimes anti-clergy, occasionally anti-capitalism, anti-authoritarian, and anti-urban renewal projects which chased out the hoboes and down-and-outers and free spirits from city streets. While these songs are often interesting and clever, and less dated than I expected, his love songs, whether about people or places, are the ones I think will endure. Some of his early songs were championed by the likes of Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, John Denver and other artists with mass popularity.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mudcat Janie on December 17, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"Singing Through the Hard Times" has been nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album. That nomination is well deserved. 29 songs, all but three written by Utah are sung by a variety of artists, some very famous, some known regionally, and some completely unknown to the general public, who collectively represent the many voices of American folk music. This tribute CD is a labor of love, and it shows in both the song selection and the voices of the singers. As others have noted already in their reviews, Utah was a songwriter of the people. Love songs. Labor songs. Hobo songs. Train songs. Social commentary. Simple, pithy, passionate and compassionate.

I don't get tired of listening to this CD. And the more I listen, the more I sing along.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James Morgan on April 12, 2009
Format: Audio CD
If you haven't heard the music of Bruce "Utah" Phillips, this is a wonderful introduction. You won't hear his voice but rather the voices of others who clearly loved both the music and the man. Utah Phillips was a man of the common man. He understood living through hard times, life on the road and on the rails: the pleasures, hardships, sacrifices and losses. If you already know his music you will love this tribute. You'll hear a variety of interpretations from like-minded performers. It's a CD you will likely listen to many times.

James Morgan
an old activist, present musician and a friend of traditional folk music
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Johnson on January 20, 2013
Format: Audio CD
...he came like wind, like rain. He came like an old time biblical prophet, all white-bearded, all flannel-shirted, all denim-panted, all work booted, came out of the heartland like so many prophets in the American land, spreading the common word, the word that has been around for a long time but was in need of updating and in need of some righteous gentle anger, to a new age, an age that knew not of old time struggles in this land, the old boss and worker struggles, the old downtrodden struggles, that dotted our common history. He spoke in a manly voice, a deep voice, no shame, although perhaps out of fashion in a world that sought quietude, sought quietude when action was the order of the day.

You could see him sing and tell his off-the-cuff stories in all the big little clubs, the quaint coffeehouses after they fell out of fashion, places like Club Passim, The Sparrow, Mickey's, The Viking , The Joe Hill House out in the valleys of Utah, and above all second home base Café Lena out there in the foothills of the Adirondacks, out in Saratoga, where he and Rosalie Sorrels lit up the joint (the place, not what you think, come on now) for many years. You could see him too, and here is where he was kindred, out there in the public square fighting the good fight, fighting against the multiple angers of the day, fighting, struggling any place or time a brother was down on his luck, or a sister was in need. Some of the things he spoke of were, well, weird, weird to a chastened world, some too was old time Wobblie out of fashion stuff too when moral suasion fell flat against moloch in a rigged-up world but all who took the time to think could see a kindred in that wandering old- time troubadour.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By millometter on February 11, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
utah phillips was the most famous of wobblies that i know of..that iconic group of international labor organizers during the late 1920's...that organization and the group of artist on this cd have quite a bit in common...both seem to have had a short burst of popularity than slowly fizzeled ...out of sight to the mainstream...that doesn't mean this is a disappointing album... contraire ...it's wonderful....the musicians read like a who's who of the folk world of the late 60's and early 70's......but they sound as fresh as the newly falling snow that has blanketed the east coast the past week(2 10 10}"singing through the hard times" is a labor of love from artist who loved and respected utah phillips for his music and his genuine commitment to his music and his ideals of making the world a better place for the working person...if this cd suffers from anything its that it reminds us how much we will miss the"voice of the great southwest"
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